When I was growing up, one thing I was always sure of was my dad. There was never, ever a moment in my life that I didn’t believe that my dad would be right there. We are a lot alike in temperament, which resulted in a lot of arguments between us, but I never once doubted that he really loved me. And he always, always had my back–even when I was being a brat. He worked at my school and was always a part of any sports events, choir performances, or band performances that we participated in. He fought me when I wanted to stray, and he was waiting with open arms when I returned. He cried over me, prayed over me, and waited for me to find my way. And he always loved me and cheered me on in my hopes and dreams. In fact, he’s still my number one fan!
As I’ve gotten older and become a parent myself, I have seen just how precious my dad truly is. I have seen other dads who abandon their children, who give up on them when they stray, who miss the big and little moments in their lives, and who just can’t even stand being around their kids. That has never once been my dad.
In fact, now that my dad’s a grandfather, I can see just what a unique individual he truly is. Many grandfathers can’t tolerate being around their grandchildren, or they are too tired to do much more than greet them when they stop by. But my dad? He sees potential and beauty in each of his grandkids, and his desire is to help each one of them grow into the best person they can be. So he takes them out on individual “Pops’ dates.” He takes them visiting with him or on tours with him or to the local ball game. He buys them donuts while talking to them about how they are doing. He listens to them, and he loves them so well. In fact, my kids fight over whose turn it is to go with him, and they carefully count down to see how many of the ten grandkids are left before it’s their turn to go again.
You can see how difficult it could be to find a man who could father as well as my dad does! But my husband is one of the unique ones as well. When I first met him, one of the reasons I fell in love with him was because I could see how well he loved his nephew. He was compassionate, gentle, and loving toward the only child in his world. He immediately volunteered with me at our church to help children who came in from the less-fortunate side of town, and he loved them with his big heart as well. He worked in the nursery with me, was full-force in the children’s ministry with me, and helped me babysit our friends’ kids. When his second nephew came, and then all of my nieces and nephews after that, he continued to love each of them as his own.
When we were dating, my husband specifically told me of his desire to adopt. He wanted there to be one less child in need of a father. His heart for the fatherless was overwhelmed by the needs of so many. And so together we pursued adoption.
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute–Ps. 82:3
When the babies cried in the middle of the night, he would tell me to go back to sleep while he fed and changed them. As he saw it, I was with them all day, and he needed to help out when he was home. As they have grown, he continues to “relieve” me at the end of the day, taking over parenting duty despite coming off of a very hard, labor-intensive job. He takes them out on individual “Daddy dates” (or “Dudes Day Out,” as my son calls them). He lets them crawl in bed and snuggle with him in the morning. He plays games with them, attends their events, and makes a point to remember their favorite treats. And they adore him.
When we decided to foster, he dove right into that as well. We are new to this adventure, but he was right there by my side for our first placements. He loved them, cried with them, prayed with them, read to them, played with them, and tucked them in at night. He showed them grace while setting firm boundaries. And he quickly became “Daddy” to them. It was extremely difficult for him when they had to leave, and he cried as he said goodbye. He loved them well.
As I see these two strong, wonderful dads that are part of my kids’ lives, I am humbled to realize that “more than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father” (National Center for Fathering). Twenty million! That means 20 million kids did not understand why anyone was celebrating fathers today. They don’t know what a father can (and should) do for their health and well-being. And those children do not understand the value of having and loving their heavenly Father. They have no example to follow.
I’ve posted this before, but I think it’s worth posting again–especially on Father’s Day:
The statistics prove that these children need a father! They need a man in their lives that will come alongside them, cheering for them from the sidelines as they stumble, get back up, and try again. They need someone who will still be there when they mess up and will love them despite their failures. They need someone who will gently lead them to God, who will pray for them when they have doubts and lose their way, and who will welcome them back with open arms.
How can I let Father’s Day go by without begging with you, pleading with you to see one less fatherless child in the world? Remember those statistics? Twenty million kids? That’s just in America! Those are the kids sitting next to your kid in school. They are the ones your kids play with on the playground. They are the ones you walk by on the street. They need you. They need a father.
There are over 130 million fatherless in the entire world. That number will never stop overwhelming me, so I will never stop pleading their cause. I will never stop asking you to do something!
Today is Father’s Day. I am beyond grateful for the wonderful fathers in my life, but my heart aches for those who don’t know where their father is tonight. Or perhaps they know where their father is because he’s the one abusing them when he should be loving them. Some don’t even know who their father is. And some wish that they didn’t know their father.
So what can you do? Be a father to the fatherless! Step up and add one more to your family. Love one more child. Foster. Adopt. Volunteer at the local boys’ home. Mentor the young men in your church. Pray for them. Love them. Fill that void and point them to the Father who loves them more than any earthly father ever could.
If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,
or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
17 or have eaten my morsel alone,
and the fatherless has not eaten of it
18 (for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father,
and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow),
19 if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,
or the needy without covering,
20 if his body has not blessed me,
and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep,
21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
because I saw my help in the gate,
22 then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,
and let my arm be broken from its socket.
23 For I was in terror of calamity from God,
and I could not have faced his majesty–Job 31:16-23.