“he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5)
Another Father’s Day and another struggle to choose between dread or joy. For 13 years I wake up on this day and try not to roll my eyes at the many children – big and small – who come to me excited about all the plans they have for their dads. For those of you familiar with my story, you can imagine why this day is one of my least favorite holidays. Over the years I have had to (imperfectly) learn how to choose joy and remain grateful for being adopted, and having a Father that allows me to communicate and celebrate him daily.
The concept of what it means to be a father confused me well into college as I struggled with learning to trust God, my heavenly Father, and cultivate a real relationship with Him. I do not write this post to tarnish all memory of my daddy; the concept of total depravity does that already. But I write this post to boast in my adoptive Father, Creator and Sovereign Abba.
Every year as I remember my earthly dad, waking up some nights to the sound of my mother crying from abuse at the hands of my daddy compete with memories of him raising his voice to the sounds of Earth, Wind and Fire, Luther Vandross and numerous other artists that I would also gain a love for. Daddy had a beautiful tenor voice, best I’d ever heard, but a damaging, humorous falsetto that could ruin all the elements. Memories of the day he took my mom hostage for 12 hours at gunpoint strive to distort the memories of standing on my daddy’s feet and ‘dancing’…or watching Thursday Night Smackdown along with my brother….or being called the genius of the family…or seeing joy in my daddy’s eyes when he realizes that his love for music has certainly been passed on to his eldest daughter.
Having a daddy who decides to take his own life as the solution to end all of his problems has left me with this struggle to remember. What do I remember? Do I pretend as though pain never occurred so to make others around me feel more comfortable? Do I plaster a fake smile on my face as I tell everyone that I have no plans for Father’s Day?
It’s been 13 years of learning to choose joy. Yes, despite everything I mentioned above – along with much more that would make this post into a memoir – I’ve actually been quite joyful on this day. Why?
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:14-16)
Hebrews 4:15 reminds me that I have a great high priest who empathizes with my weaknesses. He’s been hurt in every way I have, so much that he experienced the complete, full wrath of his very own Father, so that I would be reconciled, saved, and free to call him Father. An abundance of joy is felt when I read Romans 8, which reminds me that nothing, absolutely no force in heaven or hell can separate me from the love that I have from the Father. I will always be adopted and never forsaken, because of the will of the Father, obedience of the Son and sealing of the Spirit.
Furthermore, Ephesians 1:5 above, along with Psalm 139, tells me that all of this was predestined and written in the story of my life before one day came to be. My eternal Father knew (and planned) that I’d be raised in the family I was raised in, with the parents that I had. He knew that I would struggle with trust; knew that He would eventually call me to himself; knew that I would take my life story to point others to Him. He knew. He planned. He formed me, called me, and has shown me what unconditional love is.
Through His love, I can forgive my earthly daddy, even though he’s no longer here. I can openly share of both the good and bad examples he set before me, and honor him, even in death, despite the horrific experiences I witnessed as a child. I can look to those experiences and instead, choose to see joy through the finished work of Christ.
I have the best example of a Father and can boast in that beyond one humid, Southern June Sunday. I can boast and tell others about this Father of mine every day. I don’t just have plans this afternoon, but I have plans to celebrate my incredible Abba for the rest of my life, and prayerfully see others brought into this perfect family through my story and through the joy that has been deeply rooted as a result of perfect love.
Until next time…