Saturday, June 20, 2015

Red Flag Warning: Tomorrow is Father's Day

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. 

Normally, the holiday celebrates by honoring the deeds of fathers and their critical role in nurturing their offspring into productive citizens of the nation.  However, I would like to make it into something else.  I would like to make it into a day where Fathers honor their children.

I do not know what I did or how it came about, but I have three awesome children.  My oldest serves the senior community through her work at a multi-tiered retirement community.  She helps the elderly manage the daily tasks of life, requiring great communications skills and an ocean full of patience.   She is a stickler for being on time and dedicated to meeting the client’s needs to make their lives more wholesome and safe.  She is courageous in serving others while battling her own health challenges, with perseverance and a calmness that continually amazes me.

My second daughter is both psychologist and researcher of young children with developmental disabilities. I do not fully understand all that she does, but know the work is daunting in its technical and statistical rigor, and most importantly, the work goes to improved outcomes of children.  She is a terrific mother to her own child, intensely loving wife to a great husband, and serves her extended family with a beaming ray of sunshine.

My son, the youngest, years ahead of maturity than me at his age, is a visionary architect.  He designs and manages the creation of big, giant, huge, commercial buildings as well as produces exquisite home renovation designs in his personal side business.   He takes his role as father of two very active children as seriously as he builds multi-storied commercial towers.  He too has chosen a life mate who brings joy to all those who met her, her smile could drive away the clouds of Portland.  She dotes on the children, teaching them the way they should go, and never seems perturbed by their childish messes.

So then how do we honor our children?  We do so by continuing to be a father, not only to our own children, but to others as well.  I know, and my heart grieves, many have had fatherless lives and this father’s day business drives just another painful stake into their hearts.  Likewise, I know fathers on this day may give but not a thought to their children.  In both cases, the concept of ‘father’ is but a negative trigger word bringing resentment and contempt, with the unfortunate outcome of perpetuating the same story over again one generation after another.  The day becomes a festering unhealed wound in the heart of the wounded.

I often then think of how God the Father sees us, His unique and wonderfully made creation, in his own image.  It is then I understand God responds to us every bit as much as we respond to our own children.  Just as I often disapproved of my own children’s behavior and actions, God likewise is not happy with some of the stupid stuff we do.  In His father’s love, he set up certain rules to help us govern our lives and aid in our protection and security.  Nevertheless, just as every earthly father knows their children can chose to run against the rules, so does God the Father.  He cries over our sins, but He still deeply loves us all the same. We are all prodigals, searching for love and acceptance, and when we finally wander back home, God is there to embrace us, making us whole once again.

Perhaps the answer to the cry of the fatherless is to become the father of those who have never experienced their own father or, who are fathers but never experienced fatherhood with their children.  I do not pretend to know how this would work out, but sense it starts with building a relationship as a father reaching out to the fatherless or the absent father.   Look around you and pick someone.  Do you see a child without a father?  Get to know them and earn their trust to be a mentor.  Do you see a father who wants to return to his children?  Reach out and mentor them as well.   Remember too, there are adults who are missing their fathers, so become their ‘father’.  Sharing life’s experiences together can bring a timely joy upon those who cry out for the love of the father.