May I brag on my Dad? It will only take a moment.
Yes, it is Father’s Day and that is part of it. But it also the fact that I have spent many hours the last few weeks in ministry with hurt, angry, wounded, wandering fathers and hurt, angry, wounded, wandering children (from ages 10 to mid-50’s). As I reflected on some of these many sessions, thankfulness for my Dad came crashing to the forefront.
Before I say anymore, let me make this honest but important disclaimer: My Dad is not perfect. Like all of us, he has made mistakes over the years. Additionally, he and I did not always see eye-to-eye when I was growing up. But I just have to brag on him in the following areas, for it was these qualities I experienced in my childhood home that have made the difference in my life over the years:
He did not quit. It could not have been easy raising me and my younger brother; or being married; or working rotating shifts for decades. But Dad never gave up or withdrew or shutdown. If he struggled (and I am sure he did), it was never obvious.
He did not let me quit. As an immature college freshman on a Bible college campus, I succeeded in getting myself kicked out of the dorms. I was all for packing up and moving on. Dad made me go back and complete my sophomore year before he gave his blessing to me joining the Navy. I did not like that decision at the time; however, my dad got a lot smarter in my eyes the older I got.
He did not leave. I never questioned whether my father would come home from work or anywhere else. It never crossed his mind to move out (or take his own life) and leave mother to raise us boys. He was always there.
He did not hit me and rarely raised his voice. He was firm in discipline but realized that yelling was ineffective and destructive. He instilled respect, not fear. And he never raised his hand to me.
He did not let our modest estate limit him. Dad was a lifelong blue collar worker and there was little discretionary money. However, my dad was never ashamed or embarrassed by the way we lived. Instead he taught us the value of relationships and gifts of the heart. One of my fondest memories is of the old and rusty red Radio Flyer wagon that my dad spent hours refinishing and re-stenciling for me. There was a lot of love in that wagon.
He did not (and has not) stop loving my mother. I have never questioned my dad’s love for mom. My childhood was full of images of them holding hands, napping on the couch Sunday afternoons, camping in the Olympic National Forest. After almost 67 years of marriage, they still laugh together.
He did not ever miss church. This is actually the thought that started this entire article. My dad worked rotating shifts for many, many years. Obviously, when working days he was not able to attend church. But he never used the rest of his work schedule as an excuse to miss church. I still remember the fast paced mornings after dad would come home from the “graveyard” shift just in time to eat, shower and put on his suit before heading off to worship. His commitment to his and our family’s connection with God laid a solid foundation in my spiritual life. I knew God was important.
You know, if there were some miraculous way in which I could convince, to the point of action, all the men who come to my office that these are essential commitments in their homes – well, not as many people would need to come to my office.