My dad’s early part of life was pretty rough…which in turn made mine a bit bumpy. As a child, he was a victim of abuse in more than one way. When he was old enough, he joined the Air Force and went to Vietnam, where he served on the front lines. He witnessed and participated in some pretty horrific things.
When he came home, he struggled with alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder (it would be the 80’s before we’d start to hear about this form of mental illness). By then he was married to my mother and was not only raising me, but my aunt. My mother’s much younger sister came to live with us when my maternal grandfather killed my maternal grandmother. Eventually my sister came along.
We were poor and mostly lived in bad areas of the city. There was a lot of fighting and violence in the home. It was not the ideal upbringing and although I legitimately have every reason to focus on the imperfect parts of my father, I choose instead to remember there is only one perfect Father.
My dad left my mom right after my husband and I had our first child. It was devastating. Eventually my dad remarried a much younger woman, who had three children around the ages of 10 and 11. Suddenly I had to embrace this new family. It wasn’t easy. It seemed his new wife got the better of him. Her children benefited from his improved financial position. They got to enjoy things, and a side of my dad, that I never did.
My dad changed as he got older. We became closer and I got to experience the more loving side of him. He enjoyed being a grandpa to my three children and warmly embraced my husband as his own son. The latter part of my life with him was much better. And I got to hold his hand as he took his very last breath just over two years ago.
My dad wasn’t perfect. No dad is perfect—even the most loving, available and caring one. I believe with all my heart that he parented the best way he could. It’s easy to blame our parents for the wrongs in our life or to make excuses for our bitterness because of what we experienced. Perhaps God’s expectations are a little lower than ours.
I don’t know your story…what type of father you were brought up by, or even if your father has been around for you. I don’t know about your disappointments or the rejection you felt. You may not have a single bad thing to say about your dad. Regardless, he is (was) imperfect.
God’s perfection is what enables us to forgive and see past our own pain to better understand someone else’s pain. It doesn’t diminish the hard times we’ve gone through. But what’s the point of having a perfect Father if we can’t enjoy the benefits of it?
It’s His perfect love that enables us to love.
It’s His perfect love that allows us to show grace.
It’s His perfect love that helps us to trust again.
It’s His perfect love that enables us to remember we’ve all sinned and fallen short.
May this Father’s Day be a time of healing…of self-reflection…of determination to forgive…of recognition there is only ONE perfect Father!