One of my least favorite days of the year is Father's Day. Around 14 years ago my dad left, and from that moment that day has been difficult.
For the first few years after my parents' divorce, I was angry and thought I'd never forgive him. The years went by, and our relationship became almost nonexistent. Greeting cards were about the only form of communication we had, and I felt as if I was just a check he wrote on holidays.
Being a teenager without the presence of my father was a struggle. I often felt a void, longing for someone who would show me what it was to be a true man of God. As I travel around and meet a lot of teenagers, I know that many young men and women struggle in their relationship with their fathers. For those of you who have a great relationship with your dad, please take some time to honor him this Sunday. For those of you who struggle, here are some thoughts from someone who's been struggling as well:
Seek your heavenly Father.
The greatest thing that has given me comfort over the years is that, above anything else, I am a child of God. We hear in 1 John 3:1, 'See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.' We are also assured that our Father will never forsake us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). Take some time to offer up in prayer your relationship with your earthly father. It will give you hope and help you to always remember that no matter what you have a Father who loves you unconditionally.
Your father is not perfect.
We all know that our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), and we also know that human beings are not. We make mistakes, and we are all in need of a Savior, including our dad. The more God worked on my heart through prayer, the more I began to realize my dad's humanity. Did I rush off to forgive him right away? No. But my heart was softened so that forgiveness could begin to enter in.
Support each other.
My greatest source of support over the last 14 years has been my friends and family, especially my mom, brother, and sister. Without them I don't know where I'd be. While we're not perfect, we have always been there to lift each other up, especially through the tough times. It always saddens me to hear about families falling apart when they deal with something difficult like divorce. It's in these times that we need to rely on each other even more. So, be sure to be there for your siblings, and allow them to be there for you. And if you are an only child, ask your friends or extended family for their prayers and support. It will give you great comfort.
Find a father figure.
After my dad left and my contact with him became so limited, I knew I needed to find good, holy men that I could look up to. I was blessed to find many, whether family members, coaches, and even the priests at my church. As young men and women, we need good male role models, who can act as father figures to us. So seek them out, and remember that it's important to have holiness modeled to us from both women and men.
If you're ready, take the leap.
About 4 years ago, after a lot of prayer, I made a decision. I called my dad on the phone. I was tired of carrying on a relationship through greeting cards. While I always felt that it was his job to reach out to me, I couldn't allow time to pass any more. I needed to reach out to him. After all, maybe he wanted to reach out to me but didn't know how. We talked briefly, and eventually, with my siblings, got together for dinner. This simple act was not easy but has led to a healing process that still continues today. If you're ready, maybe you can reach out to your dad. Maybe you can be the one, after careful prayer, to begin the healing process that desperately needs to happen. Maybe your dad will be receptive to this call. Maybe he won't. But that's why it must be covered in prayer, to ensure that you show him Christ's love, even if he doesn't know how to receive it or give it in return. I know that it's not easy, but I also know that anything is possible with God (Matthew 19:26).
If you're struggling in your relationship with your father, please know that I am praying for you. If you have a good relationship with your father, don't take it for granted. Thank them and honor them, not just on Father’s Day, but everyday. They love you and work hard for you. And to all the dads out there who are good, holy men of God – thank you for your example and witness. May all our fathers be blessed with God's love, joy, and grace.