When Fathers Day Hurts

Fathers Day can be an extremely joyous, celebratory day for a lot of people. But for some, it comes with pangs of pain from the remembrance of past hurts and neglect.

When social media blows up with people expressing their pride and gratitude for their fathers, there are those who wish that they could do the same. But instead, they’re wishing they ever knew his name. Ever saw his face. Ever spent time with him. Ever received a letter. A visit. A fulfilled promise.

Their fathers may have left their mothers while she was pregnant, walked out when they were young, were physically present but absent in mind and heart, provided food and shelter and maybe even lavished gifts but never gave their time or affection. Maybe these fathers even hurt them with consistent harsh words, name-calling, psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse.

How do these people celebrate Father’s Day? How could they possibly post a picture with the caption “Best Dad Ever!” How could they call their fathers or have a real conversation after all the pain that they may still carry today?
. . . .

I want you to know, that if this is you, you are not alone. Many can relate and you are not a terrible person for having these feelings. Your emotions are valid. They are real. But also know that regardless of what your earthly father was like, there is and always has been a Perfect Father who loves you without condition.

God is not your (earthly) father, but He is your Heavenly Father. And He wants you to live free from the pangs of these pains. He will be the Dad you never had. He will be the Dad you missed out on. He is the Father who has always called your name and has not stopped, regardless of your fears or pain.

He will never disown you. So don’t run away from Him. Run to Him. He will never be cruel or unjust. He will never manipulate, condemn, reject, shame, deny, disqualify, belittle or abuse you.

Your earthly father may have done that, but your Heavenly Father is God. He made you and He loves you. He is Love. And He loves you with the original and true heart of A Father.

Your father was only human. He did things he shouldn’t have or failed to do what he should have done because he is only human. That does not give him an excuse but it does give some explanation. He is human and he is imperfect. He is fallen and broken and hurting just like all of us are without Jesus. He may have struggled, tried, gave up, got angry, depressed, stressed, aggressive, tired. He probably failed you. Multiple times. But he is just a man. And he is not strong on his own… none of us are.

But perhaps you can begin to forgive him. I know that stings. Your defenses may be up. Your lists of why “I would never!” is out. You’re asking, “who are you to ask such a thing?” And you’re absolutely right. But these are not my words but words from Scripture: “…as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13b)

It stung for me too. I fought hard as to why I couldn’t. But when I looked at the Cross, and the price Jesus paid to forgive and liberate me, all of a sudden, any and every offense I ever experienced looked small.

Not because they were small. But because in light of His love for me, I can obey His command to forgive. I can let go and move forward. Either to reconcile the relationship or release it (if he’s no longer around), we need to forgive.

And for our sakes as well. Bitterness, resentment, anger and grudges are some of the heaviest weights we could ever carry in our hearts and one of the worst poisons to pass on in our bloodline.

. . . .

So we forgive… Not necessarily because they deserve it or because we start to feel like we can. We may never feel like forgiving them. But forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a choice. And by our own strength, we can’t do it. But our Heavenly Father says we can run to Him and He will give us the strength. His strength, His ability to forgive…

God helps us to see them as people who simply and deeply need Jesus, just like the rest of us. And out of that brokenness, we sincerely let go and pray for them instead of carrying bitterness in our hearts…

 . . . .

Fathers Day can be an extremely joyous, celebratory day for a lot of people. But for some, it comes with pangs of pain…

But regardless of the past and what your father has done or failed to do, there is grace. God is not like your father; rather, He is your Heavenly Father and He loves you no matter what. Run to Him when you’re afraid and hurting, don’t run away. He will receive you with wide open arms, because He has been waiting for you dear daughter, dear son, all along.

When you run to your Heavenly Father, do not fear that He may respond to you like your earthly father might. He will receive you with wide open arms:

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

And they began to be merry.