The sun has gone down. My house is silent—besides the sound of the air conditioning turning on and off, and the thoughts in my mind.
It was a beautiful summer Sunday. We celebrated a lot of fathers today—my own father, Shawn’s dad, Emmett’s dad, my brother-in-law Will, my brother Josh, and Shawn. A room full of dads—fathers worth celebrating. The day was close to perfect for me.
Tonight as I ponder over the word father, my heart is full reflecting on all the men in my life I have watched live that title. Some have lived it with class and grace; others have had many moments of failures. Some have chosen a different course for a while, and others have willingly stepped up to a plate that wasn’t always theirs to begin with.
There are all different types of fathers. Some only participate in creating a life. Some fathers only stick around until things get hard; some are there through the ups and the downs. Some fathers work so much they hardly see their children; others just wish they could find a job to provide for their family. Some have money where love is lacking; other fathers have time where money runs short. Some give parenthood everything they have; others only give when there is something left. Some fathers think only of their children; others only of themselves. Some fathers know how to love; some have forgotten along the way. Some fathers are forced into parenthood; and others choose it willingly.
So what makes a father? Is it just a one-time event—or is it a life long journey? Can just anyone be a father, a “sperm donor”, or a check writer . . . or is being a dad a daily choice these men have to make?
I don’t know the answers for anyone individually, but I know as a mother I have so many dreams for my children.
I used to dream of perfection—to start a family with a man who would be everything our creations deserved—loyal, caring, kind, happy, playful, loving, honoring, and virtuous. I used to have a plan for my children’s happiness—a perfect life that would always bring them smiles.
Only today—as I look back—I can see the very moment where my plan failed me, and tried to break my family. And today—as I look back—I can see the very moment where a different plan began.
My children have two dads. One who gave them life—who lost his way and never made it back to us to finish the job he had started. And one who has given them a reason to live—who will finish the job that was left undone.
I didn’t know, when I brought these babies into the world, that I wouldn’t be able to protect them from pain—but I also wasn’t aware that their Heavenly Father was going to watch over them at all costs.
Maybe that is the gift the real dads of the world have been given—the gift to protect. The gift to cherish what they have been given—and the gift to see the blessings that are right in front of their eyes.
Fatherhood is not a right—it is a privilege. Parenthood is a God given blessing given to us from Him, in an effort for us to strive to be like Him. To protect these children of ours, and to cherish them.
If the father you were given has forgotten the beautiful gift that you are . . . never forget you have a Heavenly Father who remembers. He is proud that you are His creation. He doesn’t just smile at the unique person you are—He cherishes the fact that you are His.
To all the fathers who wonder why you work so hard, please know we see you . . . we honor you—and we love you.
It is a job that never ends. Every day your willingness to fight for it will be challenged in different ways. Every day your struggles will try to get you to doubt your worthiness of this blessing of fatherhood.
Fathers . . . don’t stop fighting. We need you. We want you—not to write checks or babysit so we can have a break—we need you to put on your armor and step up to the plate. Be the father your family deserves. Show them that you cherish their mother. I can promise you it will change the way they see themselves—and the way they choose their spouse. Treat their mother the way you would want your daughter to be treated, because the only example she will have someday is what she saw you do.
Little boys want to be their dad someday, and little girls want to marry a man just like him.
So dads . . . no pressure, but it is time to live life for real. If today was your very last day—who is it you are going to be?
I thought for so long my mission was to help people avoid all the bad things of the world so their spouse never found themselves sitting on a couch with detectives hearing about a secret life and two shots of a gun. But I am starting to realize there is more to life than avoiding deadly sins. Living life isn’t just avoiding bad choices, death and heartache. Living life is about being present—protecting the ones we love, but also being there for them.
At the end of it all what are they going to remember?
As a daughter and a wife I beg each father to clear your view and see. Feel. Love. Those children, and that sweetheart need . . . YOU. They want the real you, the one who laughs, the one who holds them close, and the one who doesn’t just give them life . . . but gives them a reason to live.
Fathers, your job is important. You are the one these children are looking to—to know they are enough. Thank you for all the good you bring to this world—for all the moments you choose to stand.
Fathers Day 2015