It's early Sunday morning and today is Father's Day. I am waiting for Wife, Daughter and Younger Son to go to church with me. Later Older Son will join us and we'll have lunch here at the house.
I have stated earlier here that I don't receive gifts and/or recognition well and, although I will love having all of us together today, I would be fine to just bypass the Father's Day stuff. I remember reading, however, a post by Kelly where she talked about how maybe our children have a need to give to us and we need to learn to be gracious receivers. So that's what I'll be today and let me tell you, folks, I am ever thankful for those three people who give me one of my favorite titles -- Dad.
I'll be thinking of my own dad today, who left me in January 2006. He was far from perfect and sometimes I can still think of some of the things he said and did, especially in my adult life, and have imaginary arguments with him in my mind. That's probably material for my therapist to deal with one of these days when I finally go to one.
I decided shortly after he died, however, that I would do well to concentrate on the good things about my dad and let go of the things I might have liked to change about him (which is a work in progress). A female friend who lost her dad a few months before I lost mine told me that losing a loved one is kind of like childbirth. It's painful and grueling, but as time goes on the memory of the pain fades and you just enjoy all the blessings. I think that's a great analogy.
So when I think of my dad today, I'll think of how he worked and provided for his family; his wit and sense of humor; his total, unconditional love for my mother and how he cared for her when she was sick; and his sense of service (and what he taught me about that). There are other things as well but those are the ones that immediately come to mind. And I'll refrain from those imaginary arguments.
I have truly been blessed to be a father. I have made a truckload of mistakes and I have no doubt that, when my children decide to get therapy, it will take a few visits to deal with me. So, if I'm still around and they want to send me the bill, I'll pay at least half.
There are plenty of books and reading material out there about being a dad, being a good husband or just being a man in general. I have read my share of them, or parts of them. I am a bit of a skeptic, though, and I take some of the advice with a grain of salt. I'm especially cautious about the "latest and greatest."
Being a Christian, and being a part of a church of the Evangelical ilk, a lot of the reading material that has come my way has, naturally, been slanted toward that way of thinking. But some of it just doesn't do it for me and, at the risk committing heresy, some of it I just flat disagree with.
A few years back there was one of these latest and greatest books about manhood that was making great waves, especially in the Christian world. I had heard a lot about the book and what an impact it was having on men.
It did not have that effect on me. Not only was it, in my opinion, poorly written, but the author kind of gave this loose formula for what he thought constitutes a godly man, talked a lot about movies that he thought men should like and cited a few Bible passages. Problem was, the author described a man with whom I had very little in common. I didn't like some of those movies and had not seen some of them. And I thought he took a bit of license with the Scriptures he used to support his theories.
So here is where I have arrived:
-- Just because I read something that may not help me, that doesn't mean it is not helpful and possibly life changing to someone else. So I need to be careful in voicing my opinions or at least in how I voice them. By the same token, those who read the "latest and greatest" need to understand that, just because it might have been helpful and life changing to them, that does not mean it will necessarily be so for everyone else.
-- There is room for disagreement. I don't have to "break fellowship" just because I do not agree on some "formula" for being a man.
-- I am blessed beyond measure to have the privilege of being a husband and father. With all of the "how to" advice out there -- some of which is very good and some of which is not so good -- I find it amazing that the greatest commandment ("Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength") and the other one that is like unto it ("Love your neighbor as yourself") is the best advice I can get, and take hold of, for being the best husband and dad I can be.
Happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there.