It's been four and a half years since my father passed away and Father's Day still makes my heart drop.
It always brings me right back to the weeks before my father's death. The call to the hospital to check on him. The nurse telling me he'd been rushed into surgery...that things weren't looking good...that he was sedated...that he couldn't speak. I remember my mother's call the next few days and the urgency in her voice telling me to fly into town immediately. I remember walking into his hospital room and seeing the shell of the man who could fix anything and knew just about everything. I recall him mustering all the strength he could to open his eyes and search the room for my face. And I remember kissing his warm forehead, holding his hand in mine (those same hands that held the bike seat as I unsteadily learned how to ride a bike) and leaving his hospital room for what I knew in my heart would be the last time I'd see him alive.
What I wouldn't give to pick up the phone and call him to chat about everything and nothing. When he first died, I would forget and pick up the phone to call him for a recipe or tips on how to fix something. Four years later, I don't forget but the urge to hear his voice and laughter is still strong.
That's why it pains my heart when people who know their fathers and still have their fathers cut them off. I want to scream at them, "time waits for no one. You never know how much time you have left with your father."
Those who have severed ties with their father, always have reasons why:
He's not living right.
He hurt me.
He wasn't the father I wanted or needed him to be.
He's full of empty promises.
He severed the relationship.
And the list goes on.
Most of us have been hurt by our fathers in one way or another. It's inevitable because we are human and that's what we do. Sometimes we hurt those we love.
I understand that it may be difficult or darn near impossible to have a relationship with the man we call father. Maybe he's locked the door. Maybe he's got mental challenges. Maybe he's incarcerated. Whatever the case, we are still called to honor our mother AND father.
I know full well what it's like to be disappointed with your father and not want anything to do with him. (I wrote about it here.) I know the sting of being hurt by a father's choices and feeling like you're second choice to dumb decisions. But to have a relationship with your father you don't have to take anything from him. You don't have to keep trusting in those empty promises. Instead, you can be the one to stand on your word for him. Even if it's as simple as calling when you promised. You don't have to be a participant of his wrong lifestyle choices. You can love him from afar by sending a text message of love or dropping a card in the mail. Even if they're snubbed at first, few people can keep rejecting tokens of love.
If a relationship on this earth is just not possible, honoring your father could be as simple as you not bad-mouthing them to your children--or anyone else for that matter.
Sometimes in adulthood, we hold grudges against our daddies for what we thought they should have been to us. Let that go and just love your father. A postcard saying I love you. Praying for him when no one else is--if that's all he will accept (because really, who can refuse prayers offered up to God on their behalf?)
"Honor your mother and father. This is the first commandment with a promise." The promise? That all may go well with you and that you will live a long time. Maybe you don't want to live long. But I'm sure you want all to go well with you. I'm not just talking about living a comfortable life with the signs of success (car, job, etc)., I'm talking about the kind of well that includes your heart, your mind and soul. You know when all is not going well with you.
There are no stipulations to honoring. It doesn't say: honor your father...if he lived up to your standard or if he loved you right or if he was there or if he's not on drugs. We wouldn't be called to honor if it weren't possible.
Stop making excuses and start making up lost time.
If you are a parent, one day your kids will grow up and may not agree with how you lived your life or loved them. How would you feel if you were written off?
Let's start now with building legacies of lasting love and honor for future generations to walk in.