Father’s Day is tomorrow. Are you a brokenhearted dad because of your child’s poor choices, struggles, and dangerous behaviors? Is your soul shipwrecked with disappointment, worry, and sadness? Is there constant pressure on your chest? Do you explode in anger because of the hurt? If so, tomorrow will be hard. Tender memories from better days when your child was young can’t compete with today’s harsh reality.
You pray no one asks, “How’s the family?” The question sounds harmless, but underneath the pleasantries they really want to know about them, however, they don’t want to mention their name for fear of causing you more pain. Those well-meaning friends don’t realize even asking the question is like pouring salt in an infected wound.
The lump in your throat swells, threatening to erupt—but you hold your emotions inside. You can’t allow anyone to see you cry. You’re a man. You’re tough. And besides, if you let out your tears, the dam might break. The flood could rage—and never stop. Then someone would certainly ask, “What’s wrong?”
You couldn’t handle that.
You can’t talk about them or your pain over them.
Can’t I get a free pass for Father’s Day? Most of your friends made plans with their happy families. You envy their fun-filled weekend. Their children show appreciation and enjoy spending time with them: cookouts, beach trips, yard games, and other fun activities. Perhaps you have other children who will be with you—but not the one you ache over. The one you can’t stop thinking about. You haven’t heard from him for a long time. You don’t know where she is. You’d give anything to be reconciled; to see them, to hear their voice. How wonderful it would be if they wanted to be with you or talk to you, and not because they need something from you–just because. God, our heavenly Father, feels the same way about us. He understands our painful longings. He’s a brokenhearted dad too. Here are 6 tips that can help.
Six Helpful Tips:
- Keep trusting God. He’s faithful to help in your time of need.
- Lower your expectations and thank Him for what you do have. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison always leads to disappointment and steals your joy.
- Limit the amount of time you allow yourself to fret about your troubled child.
- Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get busy helping someone else.
- Release your pain. Give the hurt to God. Focus on who He is and what He’s already done for you.
- Hold on to hope and don’t give up. You have no idea what Father’s Day could bring next year.
Longing for the Past
“You’re only as happy as your saddest child.” I’m not sure who said this, but are they right? Should we be affected that way?
I remember how difficult Father’s Day could be for my husband during the darkest years with our daughter. If he didn’t hear from her my heart would ache for him. He tried not to show the hurt, but how can you hide feelings so big they threaten to lay you out flat? The sadness in his eyes couldn’t be missed.
He needed distractions until the day was over. I did my best to provide them. Those twenty-four hours became a bitter reminder of what he didn’t have. How he’d yearn for the past, when he was our daughter’s hero.
Dad, can you remember those days? Do you wonder what happened?
Drugs and alcohol happened. Rebellion and bad friends happened. Depression happened.
Anger, lying, and many other things happened.
Nothing’s the same.
I hope you’ll hear from your son or daughter on Father’s Day, even if they’re not ready to say, “I love you.” But if you don’t, please remember this isn’t the end of the story. The Master Author is still writing the next chapter of their lives . . . and yours. You never know what tomorrow might hold.
In the parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15: 11-32), Jesus gave hope that one day wayward children could come to their senses, do a turn-about, and be restored to their parents once again. “I love you, Dad. Please forgive me for how I hurt you. I’m sorry I’ve been such a jerk.”
Our heavenly Father longs to hear these words from all of His wayward children. The awful truth is that you might not hear those words next week, next month, or ever. When my husband was on the verge of despair, a wise friend told him, “As long as Renee is still breathing, there’s still hope!”
Dear dad, please don’t despair. Persevere with your prayers. There is still hope.
Which one of my 6 tips stands out most to you? Focus on it tomorrow, for the week ahead, and as long as you need to.
This Bible is our source of hope: This land that was laid waste has become like the Garden of Eden (Ezekiel 36:35 NIV).
Father God, comfort me in my hurt and disappointment. Remind me that You see my pain. You understand and You care. Renew my hope. And if reconciliation is delayed for a long time, help me continue to trust and keep my eyes on You. For in You I have everything I need. Everything. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Recommended book: The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. This is the book my husband said helped him the most.
*from the archives