Thursday, June 25, 2015

Father's Day

Every year it comes and every year it is hard and every year I wonder if I should be open and honest about it and write a post and every year I am afraid. I don't want to be told I am ungrateful. I don't want to be called a complainer. A whiner. This year I didn't write about it either. Not on the day, at least. But I am writing about it now because I know that I am not alone. And sometimes the hurt hurts less when you know you aren't the only one doing the hurting.

Father's Day. Ugh! Why do we have these holidays? It seems to me that there isn't a holiday out there that divides up the Haves and the Have Nots like Father's Day. Every year the posts are there. I scroll down my Facebook news feed and there they are. Tributes and photos of beaming fathers and smiling daughters. Accolades. Special memories. He was, to them, a source of wisdom and strength, a friend, a rock.

With each post, I wince. My heart cries out. Not only for my own pain but also for the pain of so many who will never know that kind of love and care and support and security.

There seem to be so many of us who hurt. Death, divorce, desertion, dysfunction. The entire country is buying cards and giving presents and having cookouts to celebrate a relationship that is beyond the comprehension of so many. A Hallmark spotlight on a gaping hole.

The fix for us, supposedly, is to just think of God as our father. If I had heard this once I have heard it a thousand times. As if it is that simple.

Part of the problem comes in the word itself. Father. Just the word means so many different things to people. What does father mean? What is a father like? What does a father do? It is like vocabulary class. Learning a definition. And if we learn the wrong definition of what a father is, then we will view God in that very same way. This "think of God as your father" just doesn't help very much after all.

For some people the very word "father" stirs up confusion or frustration, sadness or terror. Depending on their experience, they view God as a cosmic form of their earthly father. God as cruel taskmaster. God as demanding perfectionist. God as detached workaholic. God as groping rapist. God as disinterested. God as powerless. God as gone.

It has taken me years, and will take me many more, to get around this and to learn that the very definition of "father" that is etched in my soul is wrong. I have started on the path of learning anew what a father really is.

In the 1986 movie Crocodile Dundee (watch clip here), the main character and his girl are held up by a gang of thugs. One pulls out a switchblade and demands his wallet. The girl says "Give him your wallet. He's got a knife." And, in the most famous line of the movie, Crocodile Dundee pulls out a huge machete and says, "That's not a knife. THAT'S a knife!"

So to all my dear friends who struggle with God because of the pain associated with an earthly father, I say to you "that's not a father." And after examining the character of God...God as merciful. God as compassionate. God as wise. God as creator. God as protector. God as ever present. God as completely and utterly safe...I proclaim, "THAT'S a father!"

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