This Sunday is Father’s Day, and I am not looking forward to it. To be clear I am looking forward to the breakfest in the morning (hint hint), the happy Father’s day wishes from my kids, and the gourmet burger I will get when we go out for lunch (hint, hint, hint). What I am not really looking forward to is the church service.
Father’s Day isn’t exactly a Christian holiday but most churches pause to make mention of the day. If you happen to find yourself in a church this Sunday allow me to sum up what you will likely hear the minister say;
‘Happy Father’s Day! Some fathers are pretty crappy. Some fathers have died. You might be sad because of this. Some fathers are doing ok, good job fella’s. Whether your dad sucked or was ok God is the best dad ever, you should spend more time with him.’
I will probably say something like this. I will take longer to say it, and I will likely use more poetic and polite terms, but this will more or less be my Father’s Day sermon. It always is.
I always give this sermon because Father’s Day (like Mother’s Day) can be very emotional for people. Some people really did have fathers that ranged from mildly lousy to absolutely terrible. On Father’s day they struggle to know how to process these feelings. Likewise some people deeply feel the pings of grief as they miss their fathers on this day.
In that sense I stand here as one of the lucky ones. My father who is very much alive went to great lengths to ensure he had a good relationship with me and my sister. He made that very deliberate choice because he didn’t have that kind of relationship with his own father growing up. And I am fortunate enough to have been blessed with children of my own, that I am also trying to care for as best as I can.
As I care for my children I know I am standing on the legacy my father started. And I am not alone in this. I know many remarkable dad’s that are doing as much as they can for their families.
Father’s Day is meant to be a day to celebrate the good things that good fathers do. Yet Father’s Day more often becomes a time when we commiserate the lousy things that lousy fathers do; and I hate it.
Studies continue to show that good father’s play vital roles in their children’s emotional and social development. I want to take the time to celebrate the people who are trying to do this right. I want to encourage them, and to remind them that we see what they are doing and appreciate their work.
I know that Father’s Day can be a hard day, and that elevating those fathers who are doing well can cause pain for the people who never had the relationship they wanted with their father. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take time and make the effort to celebrate all the good dads out there.
It means we also need to take time, on a different Sunday, to really address the very real hurts we can feel when we mourn the loss of our fathers, or mourn the relationship that we never got to have.
Call me crazy, call me selfish, call me insensitive, but as a father when I leave church on Father’s Day to go enjoy my gourmet burger (hint, hint, hint, hint) I want to leave feeling uplifted for trying my best, not dejected because others haven’t.
There needs to be a time to mourn with those who mourn. But can’t we also have a time to rejoice with those who rejoice?