This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day. In a world where it seems there’s no shortage of negative news lately, it may be tempting to gloss over this annual holiday. But the role of fathers in the lives of their children can’t be overstated. So in the spirit of celebrating all the wonderful, hardworking, cheesy joke-telling dads out there, here are 6 ways my dad has changed my life.
- Present at the Table. When I think of family dinners growing up, I think of laughter. I think of conversations that lasted long after our plates were empty. I think of storytelling and jokes where the delivery was funnier than the punchline. That time around the table created a safe space for my sisters and I to share our thoughts and the day’s events. My dad was always there at the head of the table, quick to laugh and engage. I remember thinking, “He doesn’t seem in a hurry to leave this table.” And I loved that.
- Full and Fun Time Together. My dad gave us horsey rides on his back when we were children and shot basketball with us as teenagers. We played ping pong, pool, watched movies together, and went on adventures to Lowe’s Home Improvement and Biscuitville. Looking back, I know there were so many responsibilities on my dad’s shoulders, but somehow he made time to have fun with us.
- Love for My Mom. For as long as I can remember, my dad has referred to my mom as “My Bride.” He would—and still does—talk about how talented she is and how much he loves her blue eyes. I’ve never wondered if my dad loves or respects my mom. He set the bar for how I expected to be treated by modeling it in the way he cared for my mom. When guys interested in dating me showed little respect for the women in their lives, it made it that much easier to turn them down. My dad made me believe I could do better.
- Present for the Big and Little Moments. My dad came to basketball, volleyball, and soccer games, and always cheered loud enough to thoroughly embarrass me. He was at every major event and graduation. He showed up at my door with silverware when I lived in an apartment by myself for the first time and realized I had none. He walked me down the aisle at my wedding. He held my son and daughter after they were born. And he held me after I miscarried three of his grandchildren. I always knew he wanted to be there. And I haven’t forgotten that.
- Taught Me to be Assertive. My dad used to make me practice introducing myself to others. “Shake hands, make eye contact. Initiate conversations instead of waiting for others to reach out to you first,” he’d say. At the time it drove me crazy. But over the years, I realized how much of a difference it made in my interactions with others—both professionally and relationally. My dad encouraged assertiveness and confidence, never once implying they were traits meant only for men. That persistence has opened doors for friendships, jobs, and opportunities I may not have had otherwise.
- Undercover Care. Due to medical issues, I didn’t start driving regularly until right before my first semester of college. As such, driving was a touchy subject for my 18-year-old I-know-everything self. Not long after I arrived at school, I found an envelope in the glove box of my Camry. In it were instructions, in my dad’s distinctive script, on how often to get my oil changed, rotate my tires, what to do if my check engine light came on, and a myriad of other car care details that, at the time, I was too prideful and “independent” to ask about. That display of quiet, “undercover” care and advice meant a lot to me. And after that I never hesitated to call him with questions.
The Perfect Father
I’m thankful I was blessed with a dad who didn’t buy into the cultural narrative that minimizes the role of fatherhood. In a world where almost 1 in 4 families is fatherless, it would be naive to expect that Father’s Day is a celebration for everyone. As a Christian, I believe God’s design for fatherhood is perfect. However, humanity falls short of God’s perfect design.
For those who grew up without a father figure or whose fathers are no longer here, we can find rest and joy in the truth that God, our Heavenly Father, loves us perfectly and unconditionally. He offers salvation to those who believe in the sacrificial death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ, and a relationship here on earth that will culminate in a neverending reunion with him in eternity. He is the perfect Father, the one we can learn from, follow, and imitate.
This weekend let’s show appreciation for the men who have been there for us. Send a card, make a phone call, or spend time with the man who is or who has been like a father to you. Let’s celebrate these men and the invaluable impact they’ve had on our lives!