Everyone has a story, everyone has a father, everyone had some good, some not so good experiences from a father or being a father. In a world that is being devoid of true examples of fatherhood, or might even debate on what it means to be father, I would like to share a story that might lend some perspective.
Coming from a culture that has so many festivals, occasions to celebrate in India to a point I remember growing up we had as many as over 30 days designated as holidays in a calendar year. Holidays to celebrate big occasions and religious importance and some seemingly mundane things. As a kid we always loved the religious holidays because my mom always bought new clothes for us and that was the only occasion that she could think of buying anything and as difficult as it was she did it. I always looked forward eagerly to it. So when I heard about a designated “Father’s Day”, though initially my reaction was “really why?” It seemed like one more way for the commercial world to capitalize on it. Honestly to me a “Mother’s day” seemed more justified than a Father’s day. For some of you readers who are familiar with my story my mother was the principal figure in my life growing up. Let me indulge.
Fathers come in different packages for each relationship. Some of you had a great dad that you can reminisce on, some may have a great dad that is in your life as you read this, some of you might have dad “well he is there”. Some you had an absentee father, some of you had an abusive father and yet some of you never had a sense of what a father is like and the list can go on.
You see, in my case my father died on of a heart attack at the age of 48 when I was 12 years old. Prior to that I had an experience of a Dad, who was always on the move and gone, very angry even though he married my mom out of “love” ( for all my American friends as you wonder, I didn’t know there was any other way, need to take a peek in the bible. Arranged marriages were the predominant way back in the day and we Indians, the curry kind, just stuck to it.) bucking the tradition of arranged marriages, resembled one of traditions and not love, once the knot was tied. He was hard working, very entrepreneurial. Me and my brothers are 6 years apart and it was clear I was the favorite child (I was the youngest) and he had no inhibitions showing it. To a point my brothers bore the brunt of the bad side of who he was. From the outside though it looked I was being loved, it started building a character base in me that had some major implications growing up and later in life. As life went on, though I didn’t see much of him, when I do see him I only saw the angry side and his lack of “whatever” in his life whether he could or could not provide well for us or his addictions. My mom paid a dear price of loving a person so unconditionally who abused her very badly. I remember as young child coming in between to protect my mom from his physical abuse. See, he loved me but in way I never felt it. When I came in between, the abuse stopped because I know he didn’t want to beat me up. Yet he was beating me up. This partiality towards me did more damage than not. Later in life with the multitude of stress in his life and my smart alec syndrome, I did become the target of his anger. Let alone mental scars I have physical scars to prove it.
With this as background and when he suddenly passed away mom became the central figure of this family. It does not matter what the reasons why a child does not have dad, it begs to point out that the impact of father in a child’s life, or lack thereof shapes the man or woman he oe she is going to become.
I paid a dear price a for a long time in my life and worse yet people around me paid a dear price of a man who was wrapped up in a concept of dad or who a man should be like. This seems all too convenient to blame a childhood that was manifesting itself into the adulthood. True, but one does not have to be stuck in that. It is as simple as a decision to be different. But yet again there is an issue with being different. Most of us in our eagerness to be different, define our lives by modeling what we don’t want to be based on the experiences of life rather than actually taking the time to define what they want to be. I know what I don’t want, but do I really know what I want? If I’m allowing what I don’t want to define me, then the consequences of what I do can be as disastrous of the very things I am running from.
My father failed me. Maybe your father failed you, or maybe your father was great, but I can guarantee you he failed you in some way. That is just the way it is. You say, what do you mean? It’s this word called SIN. Our culture over the years slowly but surely removed this word from our vocabulary. Yet not until one understands this very word SIN, one will never be able to reconcile with our past. I tried to meditate, tried to transform transcendentally, tried to become one with the universe, tried to get close with ‘the god within’ and ‘the god without’ and all that search just left me empty. I did not like this word SIN.
I have to realize the fact that I am a wonderful creation that God made in His own image. Genesis 1:27. Nothing around me is an uncreated thing. The laptop I am using, the Starwars theme I hear on my son’s X-box game, the chair I am sitting in and the beautiful front yard that I overlook, everything was created. He created you for one and one reason alone and that is to have fellowship with Him. 1 Cor 1:9. Genesis3:8 says He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. Something happened to this fellowship. Read Genesis 3. SIN entered and SIN separated us from God. SIN is more powerful than I am as human being. God has set up order and rules also to protect His most prized creation without violating the free will He gave him. The only way to reconcile SIN is through a blood sacrifice. You might say why? In order for God to be good because He is the only one who is truly good bible, says He has to be not only merciful but He has to be just. But the blood sacrifice cannot be marred with SIN for it to qualify as a sacrifice. Here is where John 3:16 has so much relevance. We have heard this verse so much that many a times it lost its incredible relevance to what is happening here. God is the only one who can reconcile. He had to send His Son to be that sacrifice. Jesus had to be that sacrifice.
See until I saw my dad through this lens or revelation I kept him in my captivity. The captivity is not as much as my father but my own captivity to my SIN. I had to be released. When I am released then I have the capacity to see my father through that lens and everything changes. You see, Jesus would have done everything He has done on the cross and resurrection even if I was the only person in this world. He loves me [and you] so much that He paid the ultimate price to reconcile me back with my Father to once again have that fellowship with Him and walk with me and you in the garden. That is where I understand the true love of the Father. My earthly father is not capable of it.
One of my friends a few years ago blessed my then 18yr old son(he is 22 now) with a fishing trip of a lifetime. I was humbled to see how he treated my son to create an amazing memory that my son will share with his grandchildren of the first shark he caught. You might say “that’s nice” and it is. You see, my friend grew up with a quite a messed up paradigm of father in his life. The reconciliation he received via the finished work on the cross transformed him and allowed him to be one of the best dads to his children that many men can model. Yet he will be the first one to admit he is a sinner saved by grace. There are men in this world that have taken the price of the cross seriously. My friend happens to be one of the men I know that have made a covenant with each other that they will model the best fatherhood they can because of the price Jesus paid on the cross to allow us to have that fellowship with our heavenly Father.
It does not take a village, it does not take a community, it does not take role models. It takes but real men who are surrendered to Christ to model a fatherhood that can create a virtuous cycle of legacy instead of vicious cycle this world is so desperately stuck in. Will you, my reader, make a decision to embrace the message of the cross and start the virtuous cycle. We need you to. Your sons and daughters need you to.
God bless you and keep you.