I grew up without a father in my life. In fact, I haven't even spoken to my father since before I was married. He never calls. He only sends a Christmas card if we do. He never sends a birthday card or acknowledges his grandchildren. He lives in the same town as us. In fact, I live closer to my father than I do to my mother.
But I never see him.
For all intents and purposes, I might as well not even have a father. This day is a unique day for me.
I've felt through the array of responses that a childless father can have on this day. I have been angry. I have been bitter. I have been numb. I have been sad.
As an adult God's grace has moved me from those things to thankfulness and healing. Instead of being angry at his abandonment, I have compassion on my father, for he doesn't know Christ. Instead of being bitter, I am thankful that I have a mother who stood in the gap and that I have a Heavenly Father who stands in all the gaps that remain- and then some! Instead of feeling numb, I am filled with love for my own husband who is a wonderful father. Instead of sadness, I have the redeeming joy of now having a father-in-law that has become my own father.
I'll say this though, before you think that I'm all sunshine and lollipops, and have a grand Pollyanna complex. The pain of being abandoned and rejected by my own father is still carried with me. The scars are there, and they a deep and ugly at times. At moments that I don't expect or predict, the pain rears it's ugly head and hits me with the force of a bull chasing the red cape.
This Father's Day, that bull came after me. I have not felt overjoyed for this coming holiday. I've been affected by my father's absence. I have been saddened and the wound laid bare. There was definitely no sunshine and lollipops for me this year.
And that bothered me. It bothered me that I let my father have any power over me. It bothered me that I allowed the pain to steal my joy. Aren't I beyond that? Haven't I outgrown that sorrow?
That's the thing.
I don't know if it will ever go away completely. I don't know if it will ever not upset me that things are not as they should. I don't think that I should ever get to that point because if I got to that place where I wasn't upset about the sinful actions taken by my father, then I would be totally insensitive to the severity of that sin. It is a severe sin that hangs over my father's head. I don't want to forget that, not because I want to hold it against him, but because I always want to embrace truth.
The truth is, that he is under God's wrath, as we all are if we haven't come to Christ in repentance. The truth is, that what my father has done is wrong, and that it needs to be fixed. The truth is, that only the cross of Christ can cover that sin. It is only the cross of Christ that allows me to have any grace and forgiveness towards such a betrayal.
So the pain will always be there, to some degree. It has shaped me, and by God's grace it has molded me more into the likeness of Christ. I have compassion where I may not have had it. I have understanding where I may not have had it. I have an ability to comfort where I may not have had it.
There is so much that I can write about on this topic, for like adoption, the divorce of my parents has very much defined any parts of who I am. Real pain like that will do that. Real grace will take that pain and make it beautiful.