Happy Father's Day to all of the incredible dads out there! Please take today to enjoy your brand new coffee mugs and hand crafted macaroni portraits! (Let's be real, macaroni translates love perfectly fine. Every stomach that agrees can just give an "Amen".)
Now, as much as I want to use this medium to celebrate who fathers are and what they do, I want to speak to those who never fully understood what a father really is. I mean, we get the idea, but we don't necessarily know, like the kind of know where you can't define it, you just feel it.
A little background on myself. I was raised in San Antonio, Texas, by my lovely Mother, Grandmother, and Uncle, who all went above and beyond parenting me. I had a full family experience, but I only saw my actual dad once in all of my childhood. Sure, he paid child support, but he just wasn't apparent in my life. To compensate for the lack of balance between parents my mother looked to the church to place multiple dads in my life, who were all great inspirations to make me want to strive to be that strong, disciplined man; yet, none felt like "Dad"...or what I thought Dad should feel like.
So, here I am, not some twisted human being that is a blight to society, or a statistic. I'd even consider myself a genuinely friendly and kind person. Things worked out fine, yet, I still would love to be able to feel what I see so many people just naturally have with the man who raised them. There's just something special about it that I can never truly define.
I'm not writing this to give some kind of "pity me" story. Honestly, just like many of you who come from a similar background it just really doesn't emotionally affect me that much. It just is what it is. Yet, when I start looking at my future of wanting to be a husband and dad one day, things truly start to haunt me. I begin to ask myself questions like, "Will I be just like I heard he was?", "Will I make the same mistakes?", "Will I actually be able to take care of a family without having had a real role model?", "Will I love my wife like I'm supposed to?". These questions aren't ones I just sit and ponder...they tattoo themselves to my skin. When I see a friend with his kids, I gain a sleeve of images. When I see a child run to their father because they're upset, I get words around my neck. When people ask me when I'm getting married, the ink settles into my back. I may not often think about it, but man do I feel it.
Yet, when I really think about it, this could be possibly one of the greatest positions to be in. Now, don't get me wrong, I think it's incredibly important to have the father around to raise his child, but I think my position deserves a positive spin as well.
Those of you that are fatherless, don't view Father's Day as something that makes a mockery of your past! Celebrate the future that you have to be the change that your child gets to one day experience. Celebrate the fact that you can still inspire young men and women today to positively affect the world for the better. Hold fast to the fact that because your dad wasn't there, you have a completely blank slate to write what it means to be a father. If you're a woman reading this then realize this could be total inspiration of the kind of man you SHOULD be married to. A man that will be there with you and your child, help you carry the responsibilities, and care for his family with all of his heart. Sometimes the greatest example could be the one that wasn't there!
Now, that emotional void that annoyingly shows up from time to time...
Disclaimer: Being involved in the Church I have heard over and over again that God fills the void of an orphaned heart. I believe God is the ultimate proud father, but I'm speaking for those that say "Yeah, that's great and all, but what about something tangible?" (I also understand this is a rabbit hole that can just go deeper and deeper, so I'm going to move on.)
First of all, you're going to be ok. You can live a fully functional life not understanding what it means to have had a dad. You can define that by the kind of father you become or by the one you decide to marry. The power to define Fatherhood is fully placed in your hands. And, even if you never felt it emotionally, that doesn't mean your child is going to feel that way one bit. That void, it's all you, those kids are going to be starting fresh. You don't have to let it carry over to them.
Secondly, it's ok to want to know where you came from and reach out, or reconnect. Understand that if you discover negative things by doing that, it doesn't rub off on you automatically, or make you exactly what you've been trying to avoid. Your curiosity to learn more about yourself and genetic makeup has no hindrance upon the incredible person of character you can be.
Thirdly (is that a real word?), that missing piece in your past isn't as ominous as you may think. You have been given the full capability to love and give honor. Maybe you have had it kind of rough, and not having a dad around has made you angry, confused, or even just depressed about life. It's ok to feel those things. You're not alone, but you need to understand that the power to be something great is firmly placed within your hands. Think of how incredible it is to say, "My dad wasn't around, but because of that I choose to be something greater than what a statistic may say.", or "My dad wasn't around, but I choose to be the leader he should have been." This is no reason to let your own life trail off to start a new cycle of pain.
Fourth and final, forgive. You need to let that "ish" go. I understand that many of you may not really care, but forgiving even the smallest hurt brings so much freedom. You don't need to call up the guy and start some kind of drama from saying you forgive him for not being there, but in your own heart, really forgive him. Think of all of the things that he missed out on, and forgive him. Think of all of the knowledge he could have taught, and forgive him. Reach deep down inside yourself, and any animosity and resentment need to be sacrificed on the alter of forgiveness. Let go, so that when you press on in your own life, you don't press on in bitterness, but rather in love and freedom.
Father's day is a day that we celebrate truly great men. These are men who take responsibility, men who understand the weight of the title, "Dad", men who hunker down to keep their family stable amidst the storm. Yet, many of us have been scarred by the exact opposite. Well no longer! Touch that scar and fill yourself with pride that you too can celebrate, and I'm right there with you! Happy Father's Day to those men who are going to be the opposite of the negative example you were given! Happy Father's Day to those who will help raise the next generation to not know what neglect feels like. Happy Father's Day to all of you who will be brave enough to take a stand to be that steady base amidst the storm in your future families. Finally, Happy Father's Day to those of you who will step in where other men can't and won't.