Drawing Near to Abba: a Message of Gratitude and Hope for Today’s Fathers

Danny and Caleb as baby

(Photo courtesy of Stephen Cook Photography)

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*Spoiler alert!  If you read through the whole post, you’ll get to enjoy a video (and song) that my sweet son helped me with! 😉

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  –1 John 3:1

The word “Abba” is listed in the New Testament three times.  It translates to what we know as “Daddy,” and it personifies the intimate, child-like relationship that we have with God as our Heavenly Father.  A relationship filled with warmth, love, grace, and forgiveness.

I was blessed to grow up with a loving Daddy.

My brothers and I called him “Papi,” since in Argentina the word “Papi” is Spanish for “Daddy.”  My Dad was a kind and loving father.  He would wake us up every morning for school and make us oatmeal or toast.  And when he made my toast, he would spread it with Dulce de Leche (a caramel spread) and cut the bread into four little squares, just the way I liked it.

Me as baby with Dad

He drove our family all over the city for various church activities, sporting events, park outings, or long-distance trips.  He would drive over one and a half hours (round trip) to pick me up from volleyball practice my junior and senior year of high school.  He attended all of our choir shows and “actos escolares” (school performances), and I could always feel his support and encouragement.

My Dad showed me how he loved and respected my mom.  He would help her with the dishes, yardwork, and housework.  He made sure to hug her, kiss her, and hold her hand in front of us kids.  He would buy her flowers, run errands for her, and help out with special projects as needed.  I loved watching my parents play the piano and sing together, using their passion for music to serve the Lord as a couple.

My Dad worked hard for our family and was (and continues to be) well respected by his peers.  He is incredibly smart and talented, but he is also very humble and modest.  I deeply admire him and am so proud to call him my father.  My two kids and his six other grandchildren– six as of LAST NIGHT (Welcome, baby Jamie!)– adore their “Papi” too!  He gets down on the floor to play with them and is always ready for cuddles.

Me and Dad at wedding

I am so thankful for my Dad.  Because of him, it has been easy for me to relate to God as “Abba” since I already know what it’s like to have a loving relationship with my earthly father.

I am also so incredibly thankful for my husband, Danny, who is an amazing father to our two boys. 

Both of the boys are definitely “Daddy’s boys.”  Their Daddy hung the moon for them, and in their eyes, there is nothing he can’t do.  Ever since Caleb was a toddler, he would always tell his friends— and even strangers— “my Daddy is a ‘fighterfighter’ (firefighter)!”  He is so proud of his Daddy.  His Daddy is his hero.  Literally.  Danny has saved Caleb’s life on more than one occasion.

When Caleb was a baby (he was only a couple days old), Danny was the one who noticed Caleb’s severe jaundice when no one else did, and he was the one who insisted that our pediatrician look him over right away.  Sure enough, Caleb was severely jaundiced and the doctor said his situation could have been life-threatening had we not brought him in when we did.

Thus ensued a 5-day stay in the PICU while Caleb recovered with IV fluids and fluorescent phototherapy.  The nurses even stuck Caleb’s little skin over 30 times when they were trying to start an IV line.  Danny painstakingly watched the whole ordeal and had had enough, so he asked (more like convinced?) the nurses to let him do it; he got it on the first try.

Danny and Caleb at hospital

Another life-saving occasion occurred when Danny saved Caleb from a near-drowning accident when he was four, but that story is for another day.  Not only is he Caleb’s hero, he is MY hero, for protecting our boys.  I know there is nothing he wouldn’t do for our family.

Aden is still a baby, but even he has a special twinkle in his eye whenever he sees his Daddy.  Aden was saying “Daddy” several months before he ever said “Mama.”

As a father, Danny is a lion as well as a lamb— maybe with a dash of monkey… ok, a huge dash.  He plays and laughs with the boys (that’s where the goofy monkey comes in), and he shows them his strength and masculinity through sports, rough-housing, and outdoorsy activities.  But he’s also a gentle lamb at heart, and he knows when to be sweet and tender and to show them how to be compassionate towards others.

Caleb and Danny pillow

He loves giving cuddles and kisses (and our boys love it too, as they are both “cuddle-bugs”), and he always tells our sons that he loves them and is proud of them.  He shows our boys that he loves, respects, and helps his wife.  He also admits his mistakes, apologizes, and asks for forgiveness.  He is a wonderful father, husband, and family leader, and I am so thankful that our boys have a healthy, loving example to look up to— someone to also help them see God as “Abba.”

Danny and boys

Yes, I have truly been blessed with wonderful father figures in my life.  Men who are godly and who love and serve their families.

But what about the children and grown men and women out there who DON’T have a healthy relationship with their father?

What about the countless father-child relationships in this world that are marked with abuse, apathy, fear, resentment, and absenteeism.  Some children never even know their father and/or never have a healthy role model to follow.  What happens to them?  Is it harder for them to relate to God as “Abba?”

There is a wonderful resource called www.EncouragingDads.com.  It was founded by a man named John Finch, and he is also the producer of a recently-released film called The Father Effect.  I highly encourage you to check it out!

In his movie, John Finch talks about “the father wound”— the wound caused by abuse; resentment; and/or absenteeism of fathers.  It could also be a wound that wasn’t necessarily caused by a father but involves the absence of the father.  Maybe a child’s father passed away when the child was still very young, and the child grew up without a father.  It isn’t the father’s fault in this case, but the wound— the emptiness— is still there.

And I’m sure there are “mother wounds” too, but EncouragingDads.com and The Father Effect specifically focus on father wounds.

Regardless of the reason or cause of the wound, John Finch’s message is one of hope and forgiveness.  Wounds can be healed.  Scar tissue may remain, but the wound itself can be healed.

I personally know of some men and women who have had difficult relationships with their fathers.  Relationships marked with verbal, emotional, and some physical abuse.  One of them confided in me that they vowed to not repeat the cycle.  They vowed to love and honor their families and to do “everything opposite” of what their father did.  They would not repeat their father’s mistakes.

And they did just that.

This person has a healthy, loving relationship with their spouse and kids today.  But even though they broke the cycle of abuse and prevented their own children from having a father wound, their own father wound remains.

Do you have a father wound?   

If you personally have a father wound, or maybe someone close to you does, I first of all want to express to you that I am sorry from the bottom of my heart that you have experienced and/or are currently experiencing this grief.  Because a father wound is a deep, grievous wound.

Secondly, I want to share three encouraging truths with you today that I pray will somehow help you in the healing process.

#1: We are all imperfect humans.  Your father is/was an imperfect human.  We all make mistakes.  We all have flaws and sins.  Maybe your father didn’t have a good father figure or fatherly role model growing up, and he parented you the only way he knew how.  Maybe he never told you he was proud of you because his own father never told him— but even though he didn’t express it to you with words or actions, maybe he still felt proud of you.

Maybe he believed in “tough love” and thought he was preparing you for the harshness of life that he had personally experienced for himself.  Maybe his parenting and relational skills were affected by depression, PTSD, or other mental illnesses and/or poor coping skills or social skills.

I’m not saying that these are “excuses,” but they could be an underlying reason as to why your father behaved the way he did.  With that history and understanding in mind, I am encouraging you to give your father some grace, just like you would want your children and friends to give you grace when you make mistakes.  After all, we are only human.

#2: You are your Father’s child.  Maybe you didn’t hear me correctly.  You are your Father’s (with a capital “F”) child— your Heavenly Father’s child.  We are all children of God, and He made us in His image.  Yes, God gave us earthly fathers, but we belong to God first and foremost.  You do not have to repeat the same mistakes your earthly father did.  You can start fresh with your own family and follow your Heavenly Father’s example of love.

When you give your life to God and follow His teachings, the fruit of the Spirit begins to fill every aspect of your life and your relationships with others. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Galatians 5:22

As I mentioned previously, I personally know of people who broke the cycle of abuse in their own family.  They made a conscious effort to not repeat the mistakes of their earthly father and to instead embrace the attributes of their Heavenly Father.  But the fruits of the spirit aren’t developed overnight.  It takes discipline, and it takes a daily commitment to walk with the Lord and to love others with His love.

And if YOU are the one who is causing the abuse and/or you’re currently experiencing an estranged relationship with your own child, then you too can change— with God’s help— and you can start the healing process in your own life and in your family’s life.

It’s never too late to change and to ask God to forgive you and to help you become more like Him.  God will welcome you with open arms because you are His child and He is your Father.  A Father of love, grace, and forgiveness.

#3:  God calls us to love, honor, and forgive our parents.  This is a tough one, I know.  Maybe you’ve been deeply hurt by your father and the wound is so incredibly great that you don’t think you’ll ever be able to forgive him.

Do you really want to carry around that hurt, anger, and resentment for the rest of your life?  Do you really want those feelings to affect your own family?  Until you truly forgive your father and obtain peace, the underlying anger and resentment may bubble up to the surface in your relationships with others— sometimes without you even realizing it.

God calls us to “Honor your father and your mother.” Exodus 20:12.  This is the 5th commandment God gave Moses, so it must be pretty important to Him.  Forgiveness is a step towards healing.  It’s a step towards peace.

I heard on KLOVE Radio the other day that “Forgiveness is not an event; it’s a process.”  It’s a process… maybe even an ongoing one.

Your anger and hurt won’t go away overnight.  It may take time.  But God still asks us to take that first step.

Has your father passed away?  It’s not too late to forgive him.  If you watch the 15-minute short film of the Father Effect, you’ll see a gentleman share how he forgave his father just moments after the father had passed away.

He said, “I didn’t do it for him.  I did it for me.”  He forgave his father because God asked him to and because he wanted peace in his own life.  It’s never too late to seek, give, and receive forgiveness.

And again, I know I’ve been talking about fathers, but there are wounds caused by mothers, grown children, other relatives, close friends, even strangers, etc.  Everyone needs forgiveness for their mistakes.

Is there someone you need to forgive today?  Is there someone you need to seek forgiveness from?  Do you need to seek forgiveness from God, your Heavenly Father?

On this Father’s Day, I say “THANK YOU” to all the fathers out there.

Thank you for your sacrifice.  Thank you for your guidance.  For your leadership.  For your service.  You do so much— and are often undervalued in today’s society— but God sees you and values you, and so do I.

I encourage you to look to your Heavenly Father for guidance as you lead your families.  You will never be perfect, but no one is, and you’re not expected to be.  God, however, IS perfect.  You can rest in the assurance that He will always love you, always forgive you, and never break His promises.  He is our “Abba.”

I leave you with Chris Tomlin’s song, “Good Good Father”.  (My son, Caleb, and I sing the song in the LINK below).

You’re a good good father.  It’s who you are.  It’s who you are.  It’s who you are. 

I am loved by you.  It’s who I am.  It’s who I am.  It’s who I am.”

Rest in this today:  You are loved by a good, good Father.  That is who you are.  That is where you find your worth.  Not your past.  Not your present.  Not your job, bank account, health, or social status.  You are your Heavenly Father’s child, and He loves you so much.

“Good Good Father” YouTube link

Good good father video pic

Have a blessed Father’s Day,


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