Father’s Day brings pain-filled emotions to the surface for me. I was born by one dad and raised by another. Although I was given two fathers, I never got to experience the love of a daddy. Through time and circumstances, the end result is that have no real relationship with either, and I wished I had a relationship with both. I had a grandfather who filled this role for me and loved me like I was his very own. I treasured him every moment of his life, but he is gone to heaven now and all I have left are the memories. Father’s Day is a tangible reminder of what I am missing and it leaves a gaping hole in my heart.
For many years I allowed myself be dragged under by the current of emotions on Father’s Day which had the ability to suck me to the depths. I decided this was not the way I wanted to live.
Life often doesn’t go the way in which we hoped, or dreamed or even planned.
It has been a process of mourning, accepting and moving on to gratitude. From this heart posture and vantage point I can see all the places God has worked to stitch together my hurting heart and the people he has lovingly given me to fill in the gaps.
His name is Jeff.
Once upon a time we met when we were but children ourselves and together determined that we wanted to do better, and be more. We linked arms and sealed it with rings and a kiss and set out naively on this journey of marriage and parenthood. Naivety is a gift. I think if anyone were to know the truth about parenting and how hard it is, there would be no human race!
Jeff cares. This sounds so basic but let me assure you it is far from simple. On a day to day basis Jeff places being a great husband and father at the top of his to do list. He comes home from work, (often after commuting 3 hours on top of his work day) and kids and I get a kiss before he has put his bag down, changed his clothes or even taken off his shoes. He helps with things that need to be done; never complaining, always an active participant. He wants to know how our day has been and what’s taken place in the world around us. He cares about how we are feeling about it. He’s given us all a deep love for hip hop music, most of us a love for basketball, and more than all of that, he has created the foundation for all members of our family to love and to be loved. He plays monopoly when he would rather be relaxing, he coaches team sports, he reads stories, he has pillow fights – he values quality time and he makes it happen. Because he cares.
He loves being married to me. I never question this for a moment. He listens to me, challenges me, he fights fairly, he kisses me, tells me I beautiful, he encourages me and pushes me to be the best woman I can be. Jeff believes in me, often more than I believe in myself. He dates me, sends me off on girl’s night out and even faithfully endures The Bachelor. He buys me flowers from Costco every week, because he knows I love them and because he is aware that our children are watching and learning. This is another way he demonstrates his intentionality in nurturing me as his wife.
He has shown me what a daddy looks like and he has set the bar very high for what a spouse and father should be, for our children. To me he is the finest man walking the planet.
His name is Bert.
Once upon a time I met a homeless man that stole my heart. He had no one, and so I quickly became his someone. Having a relationship with a man who battles mental health issues, addictions, and homelessness, has been full of highs and lows. It is often exciting, sometimes heart breaking, and always loving. I believe this is the closest thing I have felt to the love of my grandfather since his passing. Bert has taken me to levels of sadness I never experienced with my Grandpa, but my Grandpa was well and Bert is not. But the heart of how these men loved me – that root is the same. The root love that is beyond proud of me, would do anything for me, adores my children and loves without condition – my heart recognizes that as the same.
His name is Jim.
Once upon a time a man scared me half to death when I walking to get the mail! He apologized for startling me and introduced himself as James Brown. Immediately, “I Feel Good” started playing in my mind and I commented on his famous his name. This lead to a great conversation about his name, his career, and how he has stepped away from his law firm to take care of his precious wife Jeanie who was battling ALS. As we parted ways I heard the words “I don’t know if you believe in prayer, but I do, and I will pray for Jeanine” come out of my mouth. It was a weird moment for me and I figured this man I just met thought I was crazy, but something compelled me to say it.
I’ve honed my online sleuthing skills and it wasn’t long before I found James’ email address. I wrote to him letting him know what a pleasure it was to meet him and to see how Jeanie was. It was through email exchanges that we both came to realize how God had perfectly orchestrated our meeting. We were bound to meet as our lives intersected at numerous points and in fascinating ways. Turns out he didn’t think I was crazy after all.
James is now “Jim” as his friends call him. I feel fortunate to get to be included in this category. It is a pleasure getting to know this kind, wise man who is so clearly loved by all. Jim’s house is as lavish, as it is filled with warmth. The tea is always on, great conversation abounds, friends and family come and go ceaselessly and there is always a place for you. And me.
As Bert has become more unstable, and isn’t able to be much of a presence in my life, I can see how God has brought me Jim. He is inspiring, he is kind, he is hospitable, he is brilliant and considerate. I have learned so much from Jim, just by watching. His faith is strong and he is an avid studier of the Bible and his perspectives are so interesting. He is teaching me things my Grandfather would have taught me. He has a spot at his table for me, just as my Grandfather had for me; when I have all the answers or when I have none. Jim Brown is a man of the same caliber as my Grandpa and I see reflections of the man I treasured, in him. I see God in him. I see God’s love in him. I see God’s love for me in him.
As I have actively sought after God’s heart for me, I have been able to see him as a perfect father. It has been a process and a journey, one that I am still on, and one that I have found to be the biggest game changer of all. To know love is the greatest human aspiration in my opinion. We are wired for it. I also believe we often have to give it before we can learn to see it, know it, experience it, and accept it.
Self examination told me I didn’t want to be tossed around by life’s circumstances and necessitated I did something different. I started to give love. I wanted to feel love. It may not have come from the places my heart was desiring, but that in no way diminishes the love I have found. When God feels far, I have to look no further than the people who surround me with love, that he has given to me.
On Father’s Day this year, I will celebrate fully the man who is the best father on earth. I will celebrate my perfect father above, and I will do my best to bless them both. Jeff’s gifts have been purchased and are waiting to be unwrapped (or uncorked!) on Sunday. And the gift I am giving to my heavenly father is the gift of blessing someone else. My charity Experience Kaleo, will be blessing a single mom with a $100 to spoil herself with. When I was a young single mother myself, my mother did this for me, and I know how touching it is to be seen and honored for doing the job of two, as one.
If you have a hurting like like mine, I encourage you to look for your gap fillers, and to honour the one who gave them to you, by blessing them or someone else. You will be glad you did. Happy Father’s Day from my stitched up-grateful heart to yours.
A FEW PICS OF MY FAVOURITE FATHER MAN: 😉