While numerous cards and gifts are purchased to celebrate Father’s Day, there are many people who dread the holiday altogether. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children, more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home.
Whether that absence is due to death, desertion, decision, or detainment, the pain is real. Even in a society which seeks to devalue unique contributions of dads and moms or males and females, the statistics reveal some alarming trends. When dads aren’t around, the fallout is catastrophic.
Maybe you are one of the many who dread Father’s Day.
- You plan on avoiding social media for all the pictures and posts that have the potential of causing you to envy.
- You are contemplating a reason to skip church for fear that they are going to talk about the importance of dads.
- You will be reminded of what should have been and what will probably never be a reality.
So, what do you do? If you are one of the many who dread Father’s Day, I would love to give you some tangible advice.
- Resolve to be the type of role model that you never had. If your dad wasn’t your hero, it is what it is. That might not change, but you can be the hero in your own child’s or mentee’s eyes that you never had. Reverse the trend. Defy the legacy.
- Learn from the mistakes of those before you. Don’t waste your hurt. Don’t avoid the lessons. If you don’t want to have the same story, you better seek to find out where they went off script.
- Seek reconciliation however it is available. If your estranged father is still living, reach out in an appropriate way without too high of expectations. If your father has passed away yet you live with regret, try to find some resolution. Have a conversation by a graveside. Write a letter about what you wish you could say to him. Pray to God and pour out your heart before him (Ps. 62:8).
- Encourage others who have a similar story. You are not the only one hurting. In fact, God may use your greatest point of pain as the greatest source of your ministry. If your testimony includes God carrying you through those hard times, you can provide encouragement for another going through the same situation.
- Remind yourself that your Heavenly Father excels in how your earthly father disappoints. None of us had perfect earthly fathers, but we do have a perfect Heavenly Father (Isa. 64:8; 1 John 3:1). He carries us through those times when we could no longer walk (Deut. 1:30-31). I know you are hurt, but you are not abandoned.
For those of you who struggle with this holiday and the pain of your past, I pray you don’t sweep it under the rug anymore. Begin to find healing in the power and direction that God provides.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.
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