While others are celebrating what a great dad they have, you may be feeling lonely, hurt, or resentment for the relationship you have—or don’t have—with your father. Your father may no longer be around, or maybe you have never had a father in your life. Happy Father’s Day? Not so much. Father’s Day is hard.
That used to be me.
When your dad was an absent father who worked through most of your childhood, Father’s Day is hard. While I’m thankful my dad provided for our family, we didn’t communicate much. When we did, it was usually when I was getting in trouble. I felt sad and angry I didn’t have what my friends had. As the years passed, my resentment grew. I let my lack of relationship with him define who I was. I built a wall of hostility in my mind that I couldn’t get over. I didn’t let many people get to know me well because I was afraid of more rejection. Even my husband had to work extra hard to earn my trust.
When we started attending our church, Life.Church, Pastor Craig talked about how important forgiveness is. I desperately wanted to forgive my dad for his past mistakes. I prayed to God to show me how to let it go. As I prayed, I started seeing my dad in a whole new way. I saw how he had been trying to communicate more with me for years. He was making an effort and was fighting for our relationship. It dawned on me that He had been trying for a while, but I hadn’t seen it because my hurt and anger clouded my perspective.
I wish I had forgiven him years earlier. Here’s the thing. If Father’s Day is hard for you too, forgiving your dad isn’t about freeing just your past, but your present and future too. As soon as I realized this, we were able to enjoy a decade of good times together. Four months before my dad passed away, he called me and told me how proud he was of me and how proud he was of who I’d become. Those life-giving words mean the world to me. In that one memory, I saw the power of a father’s love in a way I’d never experienced before. It’s amazing where forgiveness can lead.
Fathers are a big deal. In fact, the word “father” is used in the Bible over 1000 times. Because of Jesus, God calls Himself our father. We get to be sons and daughters of the King of the world, the Creator of the universe, and the Savior of our souls. And God is the perfect Father. He never leaves us. He heals our broken hearts, and He provides for us. He knows everything about us and loves us completely! He listens anytime we talk to Him. That’s just who He is—love, hope, and grace all wrapped into one. He’s a good, good Father.
When you think about what you didn’t get or may never get from an earthly father, it’s hard. You might not be able to hear words of affirmation from your father like I finally got to hear. But you still don’t have to live in the pain of unforgiveness! God made it so we don’t have to. When you cast your cares on Jesus, that’s when you can make progress toward restoration and healing.
If Father’s Day is hard, here’s how to see it differently.
- Pray. Honestly share what’s on your heart and mind. God cares for you and loves you very much. As you begin to talk out your feelings and thoughts, He can change your way of thinking. He can fill you with His love so you can love others. (Matthew 6:6, James 5:13)
- Forgive. Forgive your father for any past mistakes. Even if he’s no longer around. Try to see him as God sees him. We all fall short, and only God can bridge the gap. Remember, forgiveness isn’t telling your dad the hurt didn’t matter, it’s deciding he matters more than hanging onto the hurt. As you forgive, you’ll feel lighter and you’ll experience God’s forgiveness toward you in a fresh way. (Colossians 3:13, Luke 6:37)
- Accept God the Father’s love for you. Let Him comfort you and help you heal. Focus on what you have with Him, not what you don’t have from your dad. (John 14:18, Psalm 10:17-18)
If Father’s Day is hard for you, you are not alone. You are a child of God! You have a heavenly Father who is with you, at all times. He made you just the way you are and delights in you. He wants you to know He is proud of you and who you’ve become.