(This is a shortened version of last year’s Father’s Day post). This post also contains Amazon Affiliate links at no cost to you. For questions about Amazon Affiliate links, please see our Disclosure Page.
“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 (in the U.S. English language) 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 have been truly blessed with wonderful father figures in my life. Men who are godly and who love and serve their families. It has always been easy for me to relate to God as “Abba” since I already knew what it was like to have a loving relationship with my earthly father and with other father figures in my life.
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 positive, male role model to follow.
What happens to them? Is it harder for them to relate to God as “Abba?”
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.
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. And it can only be filled with the love of our Heavenly Father, our “Abba.”
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 deeply 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 not perfect.
Your father is/was an imperfect human being. 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, he probably still felt proud of you and just didn’t know how to show it.
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 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 spouse to give you grace when you make mistakes. After all, we are only human. We are not perfect.
#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 made. 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 it overflows into 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 painful 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? Because they will, whether directly or indirectly.
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. Honoring them involves forgiving them, and forgiveness is a step towards healing. It’s a step towards peace.
Forgiveness is not an event; it’s a process.
I heard on KLOVE Radio once 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. It may even take years! 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.
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.
Have a blessed Father’s Day,