The Gift Your Dad Really Needs On Father’s Day
How is your relationship with your dad? Are you excited to celebrate him on Father’s Day?
Those can be tough questions, as some of us have mixed emotions about our dads and Father’s Day. Maybe your dad was present in life, but he never showed the emotions or love that you wanted him to. Perhaps his presence was sporadic and unpredictable, leaving you unsure of if he’d ever really “be there” for you. Or maybe your dad wasn’t in your life at all. Each one of these experiences can leave us feeling less than celebratory about Father’s Day.
Growing up, my step-dad told me a story about his experience with his own dad growing up. His dad discovered that my step-dad was afraid of the water; he didn’t know how to swim and he was terrified of being anywhere near the water. His father was a hard man who would not tolerate fear in his son.
One day, his father drove him to a river on the back roads of Louisiana. He stopped his truck on the bridge over the river, pulled my step-dad out of the truck, and threw him off the bridge into the river below. As my step-dad was falling, he heard his dad say, “Sink or swim! Die or try! It’s up to you boy, if you live.”
As a father, my step-dad was a hard man himself. Everything was about performance to him; I always “missed it by that much”. I’m sure he thought he was at least a better father than his own dad, but I didn’t feel the same.
I’ve never met a dad who doesn’t love his children; most of them just don’t know how to show it. Many fathers I know wish they could go back and undo the mistakes they’ve made. Some dads may comfort themselves thinking they weren’t as bad as their own father, and that somehow justifies their actions. But trust me, they still know they’ve made mistakes.
You need to understand that fathers are only able to give away those blessings they’ve received for themselves. If your dad never blessed you, if he never told you he loved you, it’s likely that his dad never blessed him or said “I love you” either.
So is it possible to have the father you’ve always wanted? Is it possible to start a new story with your dad? I think the answer to both of those questions is yes.
First, you need to understand that we were all made for two fathers: Our biological father and our heavenly Father.
When God made you, He created you to be fathered by Him. So how does that happen? When Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross as the payment for your sins, He opened the door for us to have a close, loving relationship with God the Father—just like Adam and Eve did, and just like Jesus Himself did.
It’s not that God didn’t love you. The Bible teaches that God loved you, and chose you before the foundations of the world. But your sin has kept you separated from God. Jesus came to wash away your sins and restore your relationship with God the Father. This is His free gift of salvation to you. When you accept the gift of salvation that Jesus offers us, God the Father adopts you into His family. And guess what: you get the Father you’ve always wanted!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV, emphasis mine)
Second, you need to understand that no matter what your dad did or didn’t do, God loves him too.
Beloved, whether or not you’ve talked to him about this, I can almost guarantee that your dad already has a long list of things he wishes he had done differently. But even if he doesn’t, even if he appears aloof and uncaring, God still loves him too.
I received this testimony recently from someone who has gone through our latest program, “The Blessing of the Father for Families”:
“I learned how to be compassionate to my dad instead of blaming him for all of the things he didn’t do in my life. I realized that my dad really suffered with his father, and the expectations I was placing on him were unrealistic. When I learned that the blessing I really needed in my life was from God the Father, I was able to have compassion on my dad in a way that has changed our whole relationship.”
Beloved, the gift your dad really NEEDS on Father’s day is probably one he doesn’t even know about. He needs your compassion.
Having compassion for a father who has hurt or wounded you is impossible for you to do on your own. Forgiving a father who has left you or victimized you is impossible for you to do on your own. True forgiveness and compassion—the kind that sets you free from the hurt and pain—is only possible when we extend the same forgiveness and compassion that Jesus has given us. We need to let the forgiveness and compassion of Jesus flow right on through us.
When we allow God the Father to adopt us into His family, and when we receive His love and blessing over our lives, He enables us to then share that same love and blessing with others. It gives us a new capacity to show compassion to others, even those who have hurt us.
“Put on then, as God’s chose ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 ESV)
Beloved, why not make this Father’s Day the first step towards a new future with both your earthly father AND your heavenly Father, and give your dad the gift of compassion that he really needs!
Here are a few practical ways you can show compassion to your dad this Father’s Day:
Connect to God the Father’s compassion for you
Part of showing compassion to others and having a compassionate heart is to first connect with God the Father and remember all the ways that He has been compassionate to you. When I remember all of the things that He has done for me, it opens my heart to be compassionate to my dad.
One way I like to connect to God the Father’s compassion for me is to start by journaling or making a list of some of ways He has met me and ministered to me. This act of writing it down helps me to remember and recognize His compassion towards me, and helps me to have a more compassionate heart toward others. You may even consider this a Father’s Day card to God the Father!
Reach out to your dad
Sometimes the best step is a small step. Once you’ve prepared your heart by truly forgiving your dad for hurting you, reach out to him and let him know you’d like to have a better, more connected relationship with him.
If you are waiting for your dad to take the first step, you are leaving the healing of your heart in his hands. In other words, if you’re waiting for him to make the first move, you are essentially saying that healing will not begin until he does something. As I said earlier, Beloved, your dad is only able to give what he has received. He may not have the ability to initiate this conversation.
Share God’s love with your dad
Father’s Day is challenging for those of us with difficult father relationships or father wounds, because we don’t know how to celebrate our father. We can’t think of anything good to say. The greeting cards feel untrue.
The Bible, however, is filled with ways that God loves us. Sometimes, that’s the place to start. It’s ok if you can’t think of anything you love about your dad at the moment. Tell your dad what God thinks about him, and how God loves him!
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Published on June 13, 2018.