They were meant to be courageous….And so much more.

Did you know that today is a holiday?  Well, technically not.  Much like mother’s day, if I haven’t gone to sleep yet I’m counting it.  It’s even celebrated in 59 countries.  I know that because I looked it up on Wikipedia and everything on Wikipedia is 1000% truth.

Today is a special day, an important day.  It’s father’s day.  A day set aside to honor and recognize dads.  Being a parent is no easy thing.  It’s rewarding, but it’s not easy.  You have to choose it.  Merely impregnating a woman doesn’t make you a father.  Yes, biologically, but being a dad is so much more than genetics.  It’s a lifestyle, an action.  You make a choice to dedicate yourself to your child (blood or not); to protect and serve them, to love and be there for them.  It deserves honor.  It deserves recognition.

Part of getting the father’s day cards created for church was looking up Bible verses to go on them.  To do that, I looked up “father’s day Bible verses” on Google.  There’s always that helpful person that has compiled a list of verses for any given holiday.  If you are that helpful person: I love you.  I love you deeply.  I found a lot of verses about being strong and courageous, about leaving your parents to be a husband, you know – the typical stuff.  I wanted something deeper, though.  Something that really demonstrated the depth and importance of being a dad.  I wanted to have something that displayed more than just a need for courage and strength.  Do dads need that?  Absolutely.  Do they need to be beat over the head with that?  Probably not.

Dad’s are so important; so important.  They are called to be more than the standard for strength, more than the money-maker.  Look at the ultimate father – Abba Father.  Our example of a good, good Daddy.  God, guys; I’m referring to God.  We have the greatest example of parenthood in Him.  He loves selflessly, endlessly, unconditionally, just like dads here are called to do.

We had some fantastic guest speakers today (Jan and Debra Moore – go look ’em up), and he gave such an awesome message about dads.  Of course we all know that life and death is in the power of the tongue – AKA words matter, and they are able to hurt.  If you didn’t know that, well, now you do.  Jan talked about the importance of fathers not only loving their kids, but telling their kids that they are loved.  He talked about fathers being with their kids, spending time with them.  It was a good message, and one that I was able to personally relate to as well.  However this is not about me (goodness, girl, get over yourself, huh?).

It’s so easy for us to lose ourselves in this world of business, overdoing it, getting rich and the internet.  The internet has definitely earned a spot on that list.  These things are time-stealers if we let them be.  Things that we can so easily (and mistakenly) allow top priority, thinking that the end result will be worth it and better for everyone.  But it’s not.  The end result is important, yes, but it’s the middle and the beginning that shape us.

I love my dad.  My dad, well, he’s my dad.  I’d do anything for him, I really would.  Okay, maybe not anything, but anything within my means.  The thing is, though, he didn’t grow up with a dad.  His dad died in a horrible accident when he was only five years old.  He didn’t have a father figure.  He had a mom who gave everything for her kids, working more than one job to earn the money to support her five boys.  Take a moment to ponder that: having little money as well has five hormonal teenage boys.  Yikes.  Are you getting the picture?

My dad was never really shown how to be a dad.  Please, I beg you, do not take this to be bad-mouthing my dad – I am not.   He has done pretty good by me and I love him immensely.  My dad has never been so good with the emotional side of parenting.  He knew how to work, work, work.  Get paycheck after paycheck after paycheck.  Which, coincidentally, is how he lives (paycheck to paycheck).  He took the shifts that others didn’t want and he took any job he could, because he knew the importance of caring for his family.  He understood the importance of providing for his kids.

I wasn’t told a lot that he loved me.  I wasn’t hugged a lot by him.  There was a point when he would angrily give me permission to do something because he didn’t want to deal with me getting upset.  I actually had a talk with him about this once.  I had just moved in with him (my parents divorced when I was 3 and at the time of this conversation I was just entering high school), and I asked him to go for a walk with me.  I asked him why he said yes when what he really wanted to do was say no.  He said it was because someone convinced him that if he told me no too much I’d move back in with my mom.  He also said that he figured I’d just throw a fit anyway so he said yes to get me out of his hair.  I had to remind him that I was a female teenager, I was bound to get angry with him on a regular basis.  Even if he did say yes (the answer I wanted) there was a 50/50 chance I was going to lose my cool.  I told him that sometimes he was just going to have to say no anyway; he was the dad and I needed his guidance.

I think, probably, that deep down he really wanted to be my buddy.  I think he couldn’t stand the thought that any of his kids wouldn’t want to be near him, so he usually gave into whatever we wanted, albeit grudgingly.  My point is, he didn’t have a dad to teach him how to be a dad.  His upbringing reflected in his own parenting style.

Dads, you are important.  Dads, you matter.  Dads, your words have an effect.  Dads, it’s okay to be emotional.  Dads, it’s okay to be vulnerable.  Dads, it’s okay to really love your kids.

My husband is a father, obviously, and he loves big.  The day our 4-year-old started preschool he and I both came home (he took the day off of work for the momentous occasion), laid on the floor with our arms wrapped around our one year old and both of us cried.  He might be annoyed that I shared that story, but I say, “why not?”  He loves his kids so much that he cries in joyous moments, in hard moments, in momentous moments.  That’s a good thing.

I hear the saying, “real men wear pink,” and although I get the sentiment (I’d rather not see my husband in pink to be honest with you) I think the phrasing is too subtle.  I think it should be, “real men cry,” or “real men feel.”  That’s what it means to be a dad.  A dad like my husband.  He is a good man.  He is an amazing dad.  It was hard for me not to cry while watching him read his homemade cards (I was too cheap to buy him a card; that or, you know, I forgot to); while watching the expression on his face transform .  The joy that our kids bring to him is visible – it’s tangible.

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Dads, don’t be afraid of vulnerability with your kids.  Don’t be afraid to let them see you both loose and stern.  That’s what real strength is, after all; it’s about being able to be vulnerable and having that mix of hard and soft.  Knowing when to be those things.

I won’t pretend how to be a dad (I do – I just typed don’t, Freudian slip? – know a bit about being a parent), but I do know that I respect the crap out of them.  I honor you, dads.  Young and old.  Here and gone.  Biological dads and emotional dads.  The sacrifices you face are real.  The struggles you go through are real.  The joy, sadness, madness, clarity you experience are real.  And yet, yet you make the choice to be a father every day.  To do more than take responsibility.  By being a father you willingly sign up to shape these little people, to love them and embrace them daily.

Father’s, keep doing what you’re doing.  Know that even if it’s not said enough (it never really is), you are loved.  You were created.  You are strong.  You are honored, and you are respected.  Continue to be there for your kids, being hard when you need to and easy when you can be.  Your kids will never forget it.  Continue teaching them.

Fathers, keep up the great work.

And thank you.  From the bottom of my heart.  Just thank you.

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