Grieving the loss of a father in my life continues to feel like a healing balm. I have learned to mourn with hope when Father’s Day rolls around every year. Such is good grief – grief with hope. But it hasn’t always been that way.
When I was a little girl, I dreaded Father’s Day because I didn’t know where or to whom I could take my sadness. Well-meaning teachers would quietly usher me out of class while the rest of the kids made Father’s Day crafts. I played board games with one other child and the principal for that hour. I felt such embarrassment because I didn’t have a daddy.
As I grew up, it seemed like everyone around me was gleefully heralding in the summer months and Father’s Day was all about wonderful family BBQs but June was never a good month for me and it took me years to figure out way. I would do my very best to muster up “happiness” but by the end of the day, I was so deeply fatigued from pretending, that crawling into bed to cry was my only relief. I remember many years when I told myself, “Tomorrow’s a new day – there won’t be another Father’s Day for 365 days.”
When I saw this picture a couple of days ago, (featured image) something deep within resonated with its truth. I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotions as I stared at the simplicity, trust and joy of a little girl on her daddy’s lap.
Growing up without a father was indeed unsettling – I felt unbalanced.
And I didn’t find my balance until about a year ago.
It’s taken most of my life to truly rest in the reality of such great loss.
I think I wrote about this particular situation a few weeks ago but it bears repeating. I was in church and two rows ahead stood a woman beside a man who looked like her father. The congregation was in the midst of singing a song when, out of the blue, the woman gently slipped her arm through her father’s arm and nestled in close to him. I watched and I wept. I stood there, closed my eyes and talked to my heavenly Father in tears. I have never had that opportunity to nestle in beside a protective, loving, accepting father. For so many, the word, “father” is another name for love but for me, “father” is a mystery word. An unknown.
I will go to my grave, having never experienced the tenderness of a father – no arms to hold me tightly, nor hands to wipe away my tears. No lap to sit on, nor attentive ears to listen. There are times that this reality takes a hold of me and shakes me fiercely. Other times, I experience it as a dull ache.
There is always loss but more powerful and settling is the presence and love of my heavenly Father.
I know and believe that every tear cried, heartache felt, and disappointment experienced become tools in the hands of God as He orchestrates my life.
This IS my life. Glorious and messy.
But I know my good, good Father. He knows what I need . . . and He loves me. Perfectly.
He is the Father of the fatherless. Psalm 68.5