I know this day sucks for you. You’ve been ripped off in the dad department. Most days, you hardly even think about it. Sure, there’s that dull ache in your psyche, but you can usually ignore it now. You’ve taught yourself how. Just like you’ve taught yourself all manner of things.
Does it help you to realize you’re not alone? I’m sure you know that already. Even if your friends haven’t shown you the scabs on their memories, you have seen it in the culture. You’ve seen it in the cynical presentation of fathers on TV. When was the last time you saw a good one? A really good one? My friends and I used to pose this question all the time. Why are TV dads so distant and aloof? Why are they incapable of being serious? Why can’t they, for the life of them, offer one piece of solid advice that their wives do not have to come sweep up afterward?
Cliff Huxtable was the shiniest of exceptions. He was always caring, but firm. He knew his kids inside and out, and he did not let them walk all over him. He was smarter than they were, but always deft enough to validated them, and guided them toward better wisdom. He was never intimidated by his wife’s graceful brilliance, but welcomed it and complimented her with his own keen insights.
We loved Cliff. He was a fantasy father for the millions who did not have one, and an uncle, at least, for those who did.
But I can hear you objecting: “Yeah, but look what happened! Even Cliff Huxtable turned out to be a—-”
Yes. Yes, I know the real-life allegations, and I can only imagine how that twists the knife on a day like today. Another father, letting us all down…
Listen, this is a crappy day. I’m not going to try to cheer you up, or tell you that you shouldn’t feel the way you do. That resentment… that frustration… those are real pains, and you have a right to feel them. Your dad had a job to do, and it was more than just helping you into the world. He was a sub-creator, and a sub-caretaker. He was duty bound, in everything, represent the One who brought all of us into the world: to bandage your knee; to hold you close; to listen. Oh, how he should have listened! But he didn’t.
This throbbing pain that rises to the surface on a day like today—this reason you want to stay home from church and mute any reference to “father’s day” on Twitter—it is a wound not easily healed. Even Dr. Huxtable, when he was still squeaky clean, could not do it. You cannot sub-lease a pop culture stand-in and live vicariously through his child actors. Fantasy only has the power to distract, not to fix. No matter how you bury your pain, you will get the same temporary result. It will resurface.
There is only One with the power to soothe those old wounds.
He is the One who your father was supposed to represent. And now, even that title makes it difficult for you to trust Him. How can you call God “Father,” and why would He even want you to?
Friend, I cannot explain why things worked out the way they did, but I can assure you of one thing: this original Father of yours is different than the one who hurt you. He has wept with you in your loneliness. He felt every fear, ached with every disappointment, burned with you in the midst of every searing-hot betrayal that branded your soul and convinced you that you were an orphan.
But you were not an orphan.
I will not try to push you toward Him today. I will simply tell you that He waits for you on His porch swing with tenderness and feasting. And through His gentle embrace, He will give you reason to trust again.