I feel like I've been a good father to my four children. We had the faith talk, the sex talk, the “just say no” drug talk.
However, some of my children ended up on drugs. One son even became addicted to heroin and became homeless. I am the son of a long line of pastors and good fathers, so I was emotionally upended, confused and deeply crushed. I had imagined a good family tree and my desire to do this fathering thing well would insulate my family from the brokenness of modern living. I was wrong.
It has been said that a father is a son's first hero and a daughter’s first love. It is also true that a father can create their child’s first wounds and do great damage to their souls. Being a father is without a doubt one of the most important things anyone can do, but even trying your best doesn't necessarily ensure a trouble-free family experience.
I take some comfort in knowing that God, the perfect father, had quite a bit of trouble with his first son, Adam. Yet what I also know is that trying to be a good father does make a difference. My kids have all come back to faith, sobriety and healthy living. They are now all married and deeply love their own kids.
It's not too late to change. You can be changed from a neglectful father to a present one, from an angry father to a loving one, from a wounded soul to a healed man who can share grace, peace and deeply rooted love with his family.
I didn't do it perfectly, but I did it. I stayed in there. I struggled and failed, but I refused to be abusive, neglectful and emotionally unavailable. In my own brokenness and with my own deep wounds, I did the hard work of life transformation.
I looked at things within me that caused those around me, especially my family, to be hurt, confused or feel anything less than loved and cherished. I believe a father’s first work is to create within himself a heart that is full of faith and love, able to overcome our own demons and move into our kids’ lives with the fullness, passion and positive influence only a father can bring.
This Father’s Day, why not take a few hours to access your own heart, your own soul and your own behaviors? Take an internal inventory. Ask yourself, “Am I holding onto anger, resentment, bitterness? Do I have addictions that are harming my family? Am I so engrossed in my desire for success that my kids are missing a father? Am I in any way unhealthy in spirit, soul or body?”
Go deep. Even check the way you eat or lack exercise. These things can cause us to lose the vast amount of energy it takes to father the active nature of children in this age.
It's not too late to change. You can be changed from a neglectful father to a present one, from an angry father to a loving one, from a wounded soul to a healed man who can share grace, peace and deeply rooted love with his family. Father’s Day is an amazing opportunity not just to receive a card or a nice meal out but to encourage yourself to become the man you know you want to be, can be and that God will help you become.