A Bittersweet Father’s Day

dad

This past Father’s Day was the best Father’s Day I’ve ever had. Not only did I get to celebrate it with the future father of my children (sorry, I can’t help it–I’m a newlywed), I got to rejoice in the story God is telling through my dad and me.

5 years ago, my dad told me he could never change, that God didn’t exist, that I was without hope in our broken relationship; that we were beyond repair.

5 years ago, he had no desire to step foot in a church, meet my church family, or apologize for being a “lousy father” to Elaine and me in front of 200 wedding guests (another story for another day).

But it was 5 years ago that God started healing our relationship; I started seeing my dad as a man who doesn’t know Jesus rather than a pillar of hurt.

Father’s Day is a bittersweet day for me. It is bitter when I see that my dad doesn’t know Jesus, and that the pain takes far longer to heal than I’d like; seeing him, talking to him, caring for him still hurts. But it is sweet when I see how Jesus has proven both of us wrong in how great of a healer he is, and that he’s not done with us yet. And in that sweetness I have a hope that overshadows the bitterness that still remains.

It’s through my mess of a relationship with my dad that I’ve begun to understand more deeply the grace of God in sending Jesus to the cross. When the residual pain of being abandoned arises, I am reminded that Jesus was abandoned by his Father at an infinitely greater degree to give me a Father–a Father who has never, and will never, abandon me.

And so I rejoice.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
(Hebrews 4:15)

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