I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. Today, my sweet daddy is 60. For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about all things fatherhood. I work with children on Sunday mornings and I see their big tears when daddy drops them off and I see their enormous smiles when they see their fathers return to get them. What tremendous responsibility most come with being a parent, but specifically a father.
Maybe its because I am a girl and am intimately acquainted with a girl’s relationship with her father, but I think dads of daughters have some even bigger shoes to fill. The term “daddy issues” is part of the vernacular when it comes to discussing a woman with an absentee father, but I would venture to say it’s the rule and not the exception that fathers influence their daughters choice of partners. I used to think that was not true in my own life until I dated someone that looked so much like Dad. Of course, I would have never admitted that until a discussion about said boyfriend where I admitted that he and my dad had “kinda the same height and similar hair” and my sweet friend Claire so eloquently responded, “dude, he looks just like your dad.”
All that being said, the importance of fathers has been on mind lately. Especially, the important role my dad has played in my life. So in honor of his 60th birthday, I have compiled a short list (and in no way is this exhaustive) of things he has taught me.
I am special. My dad, who…love his heart….is not musically inclined, used to sing me this song every day when I was a little girl. A few months ago, I found the “lyrics” to his song in my Bible.
My dad is definitely not perfect, but he has always made it a priority to show me how valuable and special I am. I mean…this man picked me up and carried me to the breakfast table until I was at least 13 years old (ok…maybe 14. Ha!). He has never shorted me on “I love yous” or “you are beautiful” A very wise woman once told me in college, one of your challenges in marriage will be to stop calling your dad for everything and call your husband. While that will definitely be a challenge, I can’t think of a better testament about my dad. He would literally drop everything to come to my aid whenever I need him. Just the other night, I was talking about the yard situation at my new house and how I was going to mow it and I said half-jokingly, “I’m just hoping you’ll put your mower in the car and come over.” And he responded, “I already figured that much.”
Its ok to fail. Both of my parents gave me the freedom and space to fail, but my dad especially taught me failure is a part of life. We aren’t perfect. One time I was going through a particularly hard breakup and I was being very hard on myself for giving the relationship another shot and my dad sent me this text.
He didn’t tell me, “I told you so.” Even though he very well could’ve used the moment to remind me that “Dad knows best.” Instead, he first loved me and then pointed me to Jesus. My dad never made me feel lesser for my mistakes. He might have disciplined me, but I never felt judged because of them. In the end, I was reminded that my dad did know best, but he gave me the freedom to learn that on my own.
Be honest about your shortcomings. For most of my life, my dad was a pastor and although I knew he wasn’t perfect, I still found myself falling into the school of thinking that our pastors are on a different level of holy. I think my dad would tell you as well, that he struggled with what people thought of him. He had a certain image of himself he wanted projected even though it wasn’t always the “real him.”
As I got older, my dad was more honest with me about his shortcomings. In the past four years, my dad has grown tremendously in the areas of humility and vulnerability. I cannot begin to tell you what that has meant in my own life. Because my dad is honest with me about his own shortcomings, it gives me the security to be honest about my shortcomings. I read this quote in a book that I think is so fitting, “If we live behind a mask we can impress but we can’t connect.” I cannot imagine as a parent admitting your failures to your children, but I am so glad my dad has and continues to admit his failures because I am learning more and more about who he really is and in turn he is encouraging me to let others see who I really am.
You are never done becoming the person God has created you to be. I used to think that once you had been a Christian for a certain amount of time, you were just kinda done changing. You’ve been a Christian for 30 years and there’s nothing really left to change, you’re as much like Jesus as you’re ever going to be. Obviously, I was wrong. The past few years, I have see more growth and change in my dad’s life than I have over the past 20 years and he’s not afraid to tell you that. He is teaching me that you are never done becoming more like Jesus. He is always transforming you into his image and its hard and you have to fight for it. But the results are beautiful. Who God created you to be is who really are. Never lose hold of that.
Happy 60th birthday to my awesome dad! Thank you for striving, daily, to love us like Jesus does. Even though I am getting older, I will never outgrow my need for your love, support, friendship and butterfly kisses.