When Father’s Day Just Brings Pain

face-72194_640All the broken fathers who fell short of what we needed and all the faltering mothers who chose their own needs over ours,

they follow us, long after we’ve moved past them, into adulthood, into our own parenting, into our relationship with God. It is the first failing we own, our inability to heal our parents’ brokenness. Before we even form a sense of ourselves we know, somehow, we’ve failed because our existence isn’t enough to make them whole.

Our portal into this world, the first voices we hear, first eyes that drink us in, first hands that receive us, are also our introduction to its fragile nature, its bondage to sin, its fallen state. We gaze into the eyes of these sinners falling deeply in love.

As we grow in the shadow of their brokenness, we beam our love in their direction like healing rays, like spiritual laser treatments, as if sin was a form of TB and our love was the sun; willing them to be what somehow we know they can, projecting behind them a brilliant shadow, their perfect selves, even as we avoid the blows raining down on us from the darker reality of those on whom we rely for nurturance, provision, and instruction in this life.

We’re stubborn in our love, even if they break us, walk away, tear our hearts from our chests, or neglect us, leave us lying hungry and bleeding, still we love them and will them to love us with the perfect love we know by faith exists and is our birthright. Much of our adult lives is about seeking redemption for failing to love them into perfection, into wholeness, into their greater selves.

We brace against the howling in the wind, screaming about apples that don’t fall far from trees, about the sins of the fathers visited on the sons, about generational curses and spoiled inheritance. But there is a greater voice that whispers pure truth into the gale and we strain to receive it where we stand, “The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.” Ezekiel 18:1-4 (ESV)

For even the children of broken fathers and babies abandoned by wandering mothers find wholeness, hope, a home in Jesus Christ. “For my fatherboy-1226964_640 and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.” Psalm 27:10 (ESV)

And it is within His love we find our perfect Father, and beneath His wings we know a mother’s unbroken soul and from within His great heart, we discover the power to heal ourselves and those we love, through forgiveness, mercy, and grace. And so, we receive the remedy for our own brokenness so that we can be the answer to the prayers of our own children, so our offspring will be freed from our failings and healed of the brokenness that would be our legacy if it weren’t for Jesus.

It’s in this way we stand, no fall to our knees beside our broken fathers and our fallen mothers and cry, “Mercy, Lord, have mercy on us all.” “Abba, Father,” we cry, “save us, from our wounds and from our power to wound our children.”

The burden of this fallen planet is evidenced in the scars children bear from broken fathers and mothers with twisted souls. In this we bleed and weep.

But the One whochild-945422_640 lived, a perfect Son, and fulfilled a perfect Father’s will, this Jesus, has secured for us a place where all wounded children find the answer to the perfect love they knew, by faith, existed all along.

It’s not a false hope, loved one. Your name is not Forever Wounded, Not Enough, Unloved, Rejected, Damaged, or Abandoned. No. Those are lies the darkness whispered as you wept alone at night. Your true name is Cherished Child of the Most High God, Redeemed from the Land of Lost Children, Made Whole in the Grace of the Living God, Restored in the Name of Jesus, Adopted into the Eternal Family, One Who is Enough for the Perfect God.

Your true name is written on the palms of His hands and it’s those hands that reach for you now to hold you, to heal you, to guide you into the freedom that awaits you in His great heart. Take His hand, loved one, and know your Father receives you just as you are.

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    The Conversation

  1. Lori Landry says:

    Lori I was from a broken home. My father turned to Jesus and changed him.
    I chose to live with my father at age 13. God worked to heal my relationship with my mother. I tried to be a good mother,daughter and wife. Journaling, prayer and forgiveness has helped me heal. My father who had faults showed me much love for which l am grateful to God. We will see our parents in heaven. I miss my Dads bear hugs. Lori

  2. Karen Smith says:

    Wow. This essay was so wonderful. Found myself re-reading sections just to take it all in. I’m thankful for my father and feel like I know him better even after he transitioned to heaven almost 18 years ago. You’ve articulated so much hope for those with hard memories. Clearly trauma agrees with you 😉.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow. It’s like the Lord shows you clearly what most of us only sense in shadows. I’m sure that clarity often intensifies the pain in seeing the suffering around you.

  4. Laurie Kincaid says:

    Lori, my mom turned 100 in January 2021. She can’t see or hear very well and her memory either is VERY long-term, so she’d have no problem recounting for you her excursion to Quabbin Reservoir (before it was a reservoir), or VERY short-term, like what she had for lunch. (“Lunch?”)
    Sometime last fall, right before bedtime, we prayed together and she asked Christ into her heart. Sitting on her bed before shutting off the light, I told her, “Mom, even if you don’t remember praying this, Jesus will. You’re going to be in Heaven with Him.”
    Now, coming up on her eighth month as a centenarian, I remind her often that she is assured of Heaven. I relish the thought of her perfect eyesight and hearing, her straight spine and nimble legs, her mind that can differentiate the good memories that make her smile from the bad that hurt or offended her, and her unimaginable joy of just being with Jesus.
    But this hasn’t been in her “data base” as long as the regrets, fears, losses, and blames of her past, and our (I’m one of three sisters) youth, our marriages, and the next generations. I’ll gladly remind her, even as I poorly represent Jesus. Even as I raise my voice (so she can hear me, for Heaven’s sake!), even as I cut her off when she starts to tell me the story of that offense AGAIN, even as I roll my eyes when she asks AGAIN the same question she asked 5 minutes ago… and 10 minutes ago.
    I’m not worried about Mom’s eternity because God keeps His promises, but I worry about my DAILY. Fortunately she’ll be beyond the restrictions of time and see God’s wonderful home before I figure out how to do this DAILY right. And if Mom is any indication, I’m going to have a good long to figure that out – I come from good genes!