But today I want to speak to the folks for whom this is a challenging day: folks who have buried a father since last father's day, folks who have a living father who is not a part of their lives, folks whose father died when they were young and who continue to feel they missed out on something important, folks whose fathers are incarcerated, or deeply affected by failing bodies or mis-firing minds or so broken themselves as to leave them with little to offer their children, men who long to be fathers but for whom that has not been possible, men who have helped create a life but are excluded from that child's life by circumstances or choice.
Also, some of us had really deeply loved dads that were flawed or distant or not particularly skilled at parenting and the pictures of "perfect families" can rub us a little raw too. I can only imagine how painful it is for dads who are all too aware of their shortcomings and long for better relationships with their sons and daughters.
So as the advertisers poke at us with pictures of perfect families, we will summon our courage and peek around the edges of our determinedly happy faces and let our true faces meet other true faces that we might lay our brokenness open to God's healing touch, freeing us to claim our thankful hearts as we remember the times our dads tried, even when they came up short, and as we remember the men who helped fill in the gaps: good step-fathers and grandfathers and uncles and scout leaders and volunteer coaches and Sunday School teachers who had big hearts, big ears and a willingness to invest time in good kids who needed a little extra encouragement, and as we remember the single moms and grandmas who loved double hard.
We are so grateful that God, our Father, is both willing and able to help us sort through the challenges and heal the broken parts of our hearts; to free us to forgive those who failed to meet our longings; to inspire us and empower us to be available today to a child that can use a little encouragement.
Abba, Father, thank you for every good memory and every lesson learned from our fathers of birth, law and choice. Help us to forgive those who we longed to know and love even though they were not available to us, separated by miles, brokenness, illness, military service, conflicting priorities, incarceration or any of the things that disrupt or destroy relationships between children and their fathers. Help us to lean into you, Heavenly Father, for healing, renewal, restoration and the blessings of fulfilling the purposes for which we were created. AMEN