I can't help but think of the children's book entitled, "Are You My Mother?" by P. D. Eastman, when I see this picture I took of a baby blue jay. We think it had fallen out of its nest in an attempt to learn how to fly because its parents were anxiously evoking it with their endless chirps. Eventually, it did fly away but not after looking at its reflection in the window for over an hour.
It saddens me to know that there are many who have “Fatherless” Father’s Day -- no reason to celebrate Father’s Day. Maybe you’re one of them. Maybe you say little or nothing to your father to avoid awkward silences or recycled arguments. Maybe you’ve never met your father, or maybe...you wished you hadn’t. Maybe when your father divorced your mother, he “divorced” you, too, and left your family behind.
I’ve asked people on Facebook what their favorite memory is of their fathers and it warms my heart to read these commentaries on their father’s imprint on their lives. If you read between the lines, you can understand how the memories of their fathers’ character have become a “road map” for their lives. They emulate their fathers because their fathers loved, respected and educated them all the way through their lives. They have a true sense of who they are, where they come from and where they want to go.
We get our self-confidence, and sometimes our self-worth, from our earthly fathers. If our biological fathers failed us, sometimes a stepfather, a foster father, a friend’s father, a pastor or a teacher has filled that role. I don’t know what psychology teaches, but I was surprised to realize how even though I have a stepfather, it was still my biological father’s character which affected my self-image, my self-worth, and my identity. Maybe God designed it that way because He never intended us to have “surrogate” fathers, but God always has a plan to take care of His children.
Ah, see, that’s the point. We are all HIS children, and even our biological fathers are “surrogate” fathers. God entrusted earthly fathers to raise, teach and guide His children. It was no surprise to Him that our earthly fathers, whether it’s a biological father or not, would sometimes fail us. Our earthly fathers were meant to guide us to our Heavenly Father, but some of our fathers were misguided themselves by whatever falsehood they followed and they handed down the “road map” they used to their children to navigate life.
The saving grace we can have comes from getting to know the Heavenly Father more closely and intimately than our earthly father. Once I realized I wasn’t bound to my biological father’s distorted "road map," I was free to explore my self-worth and understand my identity given to me by my Heavenly Father. Our God-given identity and priceless self-worth are always there, whether we have a devoted father or an absent one. It’s just a lot harder finding out who you are if you don’t have your earthly father to help guide you.
Growing up, I was always told how much potential I had, and how talented I was, but I never felt like I knew how to reach my potential. I eventually learned most of my strengths and weaknesses, honed my talents and devised a plan for my life. Yet, in the back of my mind, fear held me back from going after what I really thought I could do well. I didn’t think I was good enough to reach those goals because I didn’t have the confidence that comes from knowing your biological father and getting an idea of who you are.
It took some courage, vulnerability, teachability and humility to find my God-given identity. Over the years, I asked my family and closest friends who they thought I was. Of course, I could describe who I was, but when you have a distorted view of yourself because your father didn’t value you enough to make you a priority, it comes out looking a lot more negative than God intended. I wanted and needed an objective perspective on what they saw in me, and where they saw God putting a spotlight on a possible life-path for me.
If you think of yourself in a negative light, and you don’t open yourself up to hearing the truth from the Lord and those He uses around you, you will always feel confused, frustrated and invaluable.
After taking in all the information my friends and family gave me, processing it and analyzing it, I simply asked God, “Who am I?” At the time, it was a rhetorical question. I was really asking who am I that He would think so highly of me that He would want me to know the truth about myself. Without hesitation and with a clarity I know only comes from Him, He answered me. He gave me two descriptive names that I knew when I heard them that this was truth...His truth...His true identity for me. Not the world’s idea of who I was, not my father’s, not my college professors’, not even my family’s, it was the identity He had given me from before time began.
The names sunk deep in my soul as if a stake had been driven into the ground as a claim. My foundation that crumbled underneath me as a youth when my father abandoned my family was rebuilt and sanctified. No more questioning, no more frustration, no more confusion. I knew who I was in the Lord’s eyes, and His eyes were all that mattered to me. What my earthly father never valued in me, my Heavenly Father had protected. In fact, the Lord Jesus, who “restores what the locusts have eaten,” used my healing of past hurts to refine my identity and entrench it deeper into His character.
One way God has helped heal the pain of not having my biological father around is watching my husband, Wendell, with our kids. After God and me, our kids are his next priority. He shows his love by making time to talk to them everyday, listening to them, respecting them, laughing with them, supporting them, providing for them, sacrificing for them, and being kind to them. He would never walk out and leave them “fatherless.”
As for me, I don’t feel “fatherless” on Father’s Day anymore because my biological father failed to be the father he should have been. I know my Heavenly Father created me with His identity which is mine alone, and no earthly father can ever take that away from me.
© Copyright June 2, 2012, “'Fatherless' on Father's Day,” by Gena Buskirk-Ford, owner/writer/photographer, Gateway PhotoArtistry™, http://www.gatewayphotoartistry.com.*