Father’s Day this year will be bittersweet. I am delighted to share it with Phil, thanking God for the amazing dad he is. We’ll eat yummy food, share cards and make him lots of cups of tea. Marzipan will feature highly, as that’s his favourite, along with lots of hugs. Phil is everything a father should be, loving, patient, kind and a great example to us all of a faithful man living out his God-given calling of fatherhood.
I’ll reflect on the amazing gift of a relationship with my Heavenly Father. He is steadfast, merciful and ever loving. Without my Heavenly Father I couldn’t do what I do, I would just be a shell. I know there have been many times when the Devil has whispered in my ear how I’m not worth it, I should just be invisible, it comes from a place of painful childhood memories, but then God….He tells me of His love for me, He tells me He created me, ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb’ Psalm 139:13. He reminds me He had called me for a purpose and He tells me I am His masterpiece, ‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago’ Ephesians 2:10. He rescues me when I start to sink into that valley of lies which draws me in, the lies whispered in the darkness. I only have to turn to Him and He’s there.
This year I’ll give an extra prayer of thanks for my father-in-law. He’s a steady, faithful man who loves me as his own and continues to support us as a family.
This year will throw up strange emotions. Never have I had a Father’s Day without Dad. Earlier this week I realised it was Father’s Day this Sunday, and after working out what we would do for Phil I started thinking what I should give Dad. Then I remembered. Dad’s not here, he doesn’t need a present, a card, a phone call or a visit. He’s happier than ever, our Heavenly Father has him safely in His hands. Dad loved gifts, they were his love language. He had so much stuff I struggled to think of what other item of clutter I could bless him with! Whatever I bought he was happy though, he just loved to know I’d thought of him. He never let me forget a particular Father’s Day when I was four years old. I had told him, a few days before the day, that we had bought him a surprise pair of trousers! His gift may not have been a surprise when Father’s Day came round, but the humour of the gaff made him giggle for decades to come.
Losing a parent is never easy. The yearly celebrations always throw up memories, there are birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Easter, the anniversary of their death. These days punctuate the year preventing me from ever completely letting go, burying the pain (I know that’s not right) and moving on. I can almost pretend most days that he’s still here. I sadly was rarely able to see him, but I knew he was only a phone call away. I often think to call him, when we have family news to share, and then I remember he’s no longer here. The realisation steals my breath, tears well, but I move forwards, grief hurts too much. I bury it before the pain consumes me and sucks me down. If I dwell on it I start to remember Mum too and then thoughts of childhood, painful memories, insecurities all surface. The children will see and ask questions, I don’t have the energy for gut wrenching tears, a shoulder shuddering snot fest of memories is not scheduled in my day and so I hold it and hand it to God.
How do you grieve when you’re busy? I’m not sure there’s a right way. I’ve been working through grief for 30 years and I’m no expert. I do know that God sees my pain and He heals.
This Father’s Day will be a celebration. We’ll spoil Phil and remind him how much he’s loved. I will remember that Dad is now at peace and I will focus on the joy of his last minute salvation. I’ll choose joy, as there is so much to be joyful about.
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