The annual special day set aside to celebrate fathers and father figures in our lives is upon us once more. Father’s Day is a chance to show our love for our fathers and father figures. It is however sad that for some fathers, this is the only day in a year that they will receive recognition from their families.
Unlike Mother’s Day celebrations when time, effort and strategic planning is expended to surprise and delight our mothers, the Father’s Day celebrations tend to be low key, hastily assembled and hardly prioritized. There will be cards with corny messages and the predictable socks as presents for those fathers who are remembered. Sometimes, it feels as if fathers are an afterthought in our priorities. There are even some in our society (some fathers included), who subscribe to the view that a father is not an important or relevant figure in a child’s upbringing. Then there are those fathers who are emotionally absent from their children even when physically present.
This laisse faire attitude towards the role of fatherhood has sadly created an acceptable convention that the annual Father’s Day celebration is inconsequential.
These negative assumptions and portrayal of the role of fatherhood must be aggressively challenged and corrected. A fathers’ role is hugely significant and his presence in a child’s upbringing truly meaningful. He is the first male figure a girl child loves and the nature of that love will forever shape her outlook on dating and selection of a life partner. For a boy child, a father’s love will shape his understanding of leadership, work ethics, his views towards female members of society, his respect for others and his own self-respect.
The role of fatherhood is important and when absent, a vacuum is left in the human soul. It is no coincidence that many young people who join gangs do so as an alternative solution to filling the vacuum left by absentee fathers.
Human relationships are complex and at times they can be cruel and they include our interactions with some of the father figures in our lives but, we must let go of those negative emotions if we want to thrive in life. If we hold on to unforgiveness towards our fathers, those negative emotions can imprison our soul, stifle the progression of our life journey and sabotage the chances of success in our interpersonal relations.
One of the best expressions of love is forgiveness. Forgiveness is impartial. It is to be extended to all. 1st Corinthians 13 explains it this way:-
1 Corinthians 13
New International Version
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Let us learn to extend forgiveness to those fathers who we feel have failed in their role. Yes, Fathers’ Day is normally used to honour the fathers we love and respect but we can also use it as an opportunity to reflect God’s love to all fathers, whether they live with us or not, whether they are supportive or not, whether we feel that they are deserving of our love or not. This day that has been set aside as a father appreciation day, can be used for our emotional healing through forgiveness. This is our chance to reflect God’s love to our fellow human being.
God in heaven is the ultimate example of the perfect father - loving, giving, patient and protective. He is God but our fathers on earth are mere men. They will fail us in small ways and unfortunately, there are some who will fail us in significant ways but Jesus Christ taught us how to walk in liberty through forgiveness. In the Bible passage that is commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, we are taught to approach God our father with our requests but in the course of doing so, we must forgive others the same way that we are asking God to forgive us of our sins.
God’s willingness as a Father to meet our needs is predicated on the premise that we come to him in humility by first showing others forgiveness. You see, God loves his children and his children include our earthly fathers, yes even those who hurt and fail us.
On this Father’s Day, let us show love to all father figures in our lives.
Happy Father’s Day!
New International Version
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,[a] but deliver us from the evil one