Pastor Devin Strong
Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church
Fathers are not perfect.
My own dad was an active alcoholic during my formative years. Fortunately for me, he was never physically abusive and was always steady in work.
Dad was a good provider, but he was sometimes harsh and often emotionally absent. His life revolved around his work, his handball games, and his drink. I don’t think that’s what my dad intended. He just didn’t know any different, and he did the best he knew how. Just after I was ordained, our family held an intervention for him, and he went into treatment for his alcoholism. As far as I know, he never had another drink after that, and I was blessed to know him for 26 years sober. Our relationship was better but still not what either of us hoped for. Whatever the hole was in his life that he tried to fill with beer and martinis, it never healed completely. I believe that my father yearned desperately for deeper relationships, but he just didn’t know how to get close.
He did the best that he could.
So did I with my own kids.
Partly because of my physical disability and party because of my general incompetence (!), I was not a great father when my kids were small. I changed diapers like Tim the Toolman Taylor, and whenever my wife left the house, my kids would push my wheelchair out of my reach so that I couldn’t chase them! My prayer is that I became an increasingly better dad as my twins grew older. I hope that I was there for them emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. I take great pride that they have both turned out to be pretty great young adults!
Perhaps a little of that is because of me; surely some of it is in spite of me! I did, and am doing, the best that I know how.
Father’s Day is coming up fast (Sunday, June 19th), though the day does not carry nearly as much weight in the church or the culture as Mother’s Day. This is probably as it should be, since even in the best of homes, most moms do a lot more of the childrearing than dads. Still, fathers deserve an honorable mention because a lot of us are really trying!
Some in the church really chafe against all the masculine imagery for God, especially if we did not have the most stellar dads. It’s hard to picture our Heavenly Father as gracious and loving if we did not experience that here on Earth.
Father’s Day is a time to give thanks for all the wonderful things that our dads did for us. We also raise a glass to all of those men--teachers and pastors, coaches and mentors--who served as powerful father figures for us. For all the rest of it, we ask forgiveness and try to let it go. We remember that we are all just doing the best we can.
The Good News is that no matter how wonderful or lousy our earthly parents were, our God is an even better Father and Mother then we can ever dream of.
God Loves You, and So Do I!