As soon as the words ‘Fathers Day’ burst into our shops and onto our TVs and radio it instils a sense of something in us. Each and every one of us has a reaction to it whether we like it or not.
Some of us might think ‘must remember to buy a card, must get the kids presents to give their dad, must do this, must do that …’ and so on. A day that interrupts the busyness of normal life but yet is a day to have as an occasion.
Some of us probably think ‘must book that pub/eating place so we can all gather to celebrate’ or ‘must get the whole family together for a meal’.
Some of us probably spend months and weeks searching for THAT perfect card and gift to give to the one person in your life who has been a constant. A constant source of care and love.
For some of us Father’s Day is a day of joy and celebrations.
Yet for some of us as soon as those words appear that tell us Father’s Day is imminent in our lives, it fills us with the dread of knowing that for next few months and weeks in the run up to it and including it we are not going to be able to escape the reminders that evoke feelings of pain and hurt.
For some of us it’s because we have lost our children or because they are not with us for many reasons.
For some of us it is because we have lost our fathers. Men we held highly, and loved who are no longer here.
For some of us it’s a reminder that we haven’t known who our father is. Never had a man in our life to call ‘Dad’.
And for some of us, it’s because we have had a man who is a biological father who has been in our lives at some/various points but whose behaviour and actions have left us with scars so deep that at times we’ve lost hope and belief that they/we can ever heal.
I’m one of those people. One of those ‘us’ in the sentence before this one. One the people who usually melts down at this time of year because all around all I see is ‘treat your father/love your dad’ and it reminds me of what he did to me. It reminds me there is no relationship there. It reminds me I have only seen him two times in 10 years and that when we walked away from each other at a meeting several years ago we would never be in contact again. It reminds me that he was vicious, violent and abusive. It reminds me that year after year of trying to be the daughter he would have pleased with it was never good enough. It reminds me of the desperation I have felt in past years of wanting to see that relationship repaired and rebuilt. That maybe if I did x and y that I could be his daughter. Properly. It reminds me that none of that is going to happen.
I say it reminds me – it doesn’t actually remind me because I never forget. How can you? I think what it actually does is magnifies it. Makes the wounds wider and bigger until the dust settles and some normality can be regained.
Today can be one of the toughest days of the year. One of the toughest days of any of the ‘celebration days’ we hold in the UK. For many of us.
And yet today, for me, has been the first Father’s Day in my history where whilst the sting is still there it feels as though maybe the power of it has been taken away slightly.
I went to church this morning – not something I ever do on Father’s Day. Not since 10 years ago when I walked out of a service because it had no idea …
But I knew weeks ago that today was going to fall on the first service after my baptism. So I made the conscious decision to be at it. Ironically because of a mix up on the coffee rota I ended up being at both of them when I didn’t need to be.
A week ago at my baptism I acknowledged publicly that I believe God is my father. Which only one or two people in the church would have realised the deep deep significance of. The last month or two has been a journey down the road of discovering God as that. And it’s been massive. It’s been overwhelming. It’s been life changing. Realisations and revelations that I can’t even put into written words have occurred and with the support of just a couple of people I’ve been able to speak out loud and process and move on with. I’ve been able to start the journey of recognising/realising and acknowledging that God is a Father God.
And today during the worship during one of the services I got overwhelmed. And outside for some fresh air did I go. And whilst I was tearful, and whilst it had all gotten a bit too much at the same time it all felt OK. I was OK. Usually my head is chaos. Usually my mind is throwing around one thousand different things and it breaks down because it can’t process and it can’t cope. Usually I leave a service because I wanna scream and yell. Usually I leave a service because I can’t cope but I’m so all over I don’t even know what I can’t cope with.
But today, I KNEW what was overwhelming. And for the first time it felt OK. Because weirdly I was feeling overwhelmed by God. I was overwhelmed with being in the midst of a community who know me. Who really really know me and who still accept me. And by being in the presence of a God who also really really knows me and accepts and who for the first time in years I feel fully at peace with. That was overwhelming. And it’s not the kind of overwhelmed I’m used to experiencing.
I don’t have an earthly father who loves me. In fact I have an earthly father who has caused untold pain and damage.
But I have a Godly one who does love and is love. And I’m at the beginning of the journey of discovering a whole different life knowing that and discovering more and more of Him.
And it’s made today more manageable than any other year.
IF today has been a day of rejoicing, celebration, happiness and gladness, that I am really glad. If you have a Dad, a biological one, or one who takes on the role, as a step, or as a role model, or as a male figure in your life, I hope you have been able to/have enjoyed spending time with them/or celebrating them in some way. I join you in wishing those people Happy Fathers Day. It’s been a real privilege to text a couple of people today who have been positive male figures in my life.
IF today has been a day of remembering loved and lost ones, then I hope in your grief you have been able to remember the good times.
IF today has been a day of pain, hurt, sadness, anger, darkness or any other negative emotion and IF today has done nothing but remind of someone you have never had, or of someone who has hurt you beyond your wildest dreams then I am sorry.
I have been and am thinking of you today.