Every year for as long as I can remember I have dreaded Father’s Day weekend. Growing up in the small town where we lived, our church would take great pains each year to make at least half as much fuss over Father’s Day as Mother’s Day had gotten one month earlier. That meant some sort of public honoring of all the fathers who were there, usually by having the dads stand and one of his kids would pick out a gift, (a handkerchief, a pen, a Bible, what have you), walk to the front of the church and present it to him. Everyone would clap then sit down and the service would continue. Because my own father had been killed in a car accident when I was 3 years old, I never actually knew him and only have a couple of hazy memories of him at all. Sitting silent beside my mom and sister during those services while all my friends celebrated their dads only served to reinforce my awareness that we were different, and not in a good way.
In the years that followed, through high school, college and beyond, I have slowly begun to deal with my insecurities and fear of feeling different from ‘normal’. I ended up with a career in music and most of the opportunities I’ve had have been in the church. I’ve sung countless praise songs to my heavenly Father and experienced not only healing from the sense of loss of that roll in my life, but also a deeper understanding of what it means to be a son of a Father who is good and can be trusted. All of this was progress, I suppose, but it still did not prepare me for this past Father’s Day – 2013…
My wife and I are expecting our first child, a daughter, in September. Because we have not met her face to face yet, I wasn’t even thinking that technically we could celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day this year, but Last minute we decided to. I tried to make Mother’s Day special for Hannah with a card, flowers, and taking her out to eat and it was nice. What I didn’t expect, however, was how profound would be the experience of finally being on the other side of a day that has haunted me my whole life. As inadequate as I feel, I am, (am about to be), someone’s dad. The card my wife gave me from our unborn daughter called me ‘daddy’ and all of a sudden it hit me like a tidal wave. All things are made new by the power of Christ to transform the most hopeless and devastating times in our lives. This day on which I felt so much isolation and sadness throughout the years has been redeemed and turned my sorrow into joy!
This is how I believe God works. It’s not always to swoop down and rescue us from all the pain and heartache of the human condition, sometimes it’s the slow but sure path to redemption that He leads us to day by day. It heals us slowly until, miraculously, we realize we are changed and the difficult journey has revealed a character and hard earned joy we would never want to be without. Father’s Day? It will never be the same for me and I can’t help but look forward to next year! -Matt