My wife casually popped into our room last weekend and reminded me that this coming Sunday was Father’s Day. I forgot it was approaching. She, of course, asked what I wanted to do, and I was quick to respond, “just be a father.”
I spend quite a bit of time traveling around the world with Food for the Hungry, so I have to be disciplined and intentional about my time at home. When I’ve been on a plane for 29 hours, it would be easy to ask for more time to rest or be alone or just recover. But I know those moments are numbered. What I really want to do is just spend time with my kids.
For me, that’s what Father’s Day is really about.
Instead of begging my wife and children to buy me things, honor me, or give me time to be alone, I think it’s best to be present with them. Like many seasons and rhythms of life, Father’s Day is no different. It reminds us to do a sort of assessment on ourselves. I know that I’m bound to make mistakes, but this day feels like a natural time to take a pause and listen. If you’re a dad, are you doing a good job? Are your kids doing okay and are you doing what you can to protect them and build their character? If you’re a kid, are you doing a good job honoring your dad?
The best example I have of a father bending over backward is out of Lebanon.
While visiting a refugee camp, I had the opportunity to sit with families and listen to their stories of perseverance and sacrifice. I heard what got them to the point of leaving everything behind, their beautiful homes, all their belongings, their jobs, their friends. All to come and live in tents without access to basic services. They were willing to do anything to keep their families safe.
While most people we meet are appreciative of FH’s work, there was an intensity to these fathers that I had never experienced before. It was something that deeply resonated with me. There was one family who had nothing to offer. Yet they found a way to extend us hospitality in the form of coffee. I don’t ever drink coffee, but I did that day. I was so humbled by their generosity in a time of crisis.
I’ve been in a lot of contexts for affection, like kisses on each cheek or touching foreheads, but I’ve never before had a big bearded man gave me a wet kiss on my cheek.
This Syrian father shook my perceptions and made me grateful to be a part of this work.
This Father’s Day, I’m thinking about those men and how they’re being celebrated. While they won’t be grilling burgers next to a backyard pool, but this day is for them too. I’ll be thinking about the father heroes who gave up everything they knew to move their families across national borders to safety and are still struggling to keep their families safe amidst rising challenges.
I’ll also be thinking of my own father. While sometimes my call to him on this specific day seems trite and forced, I know that he welcomes the contact. I’m lucky. My dad taught me about hard work, loyalty, and what it means to show up. Even if you don’t have that relationship with your own earthly father, I hope you know that God loves you and is the perfect example of fatherly love. He cares for the fatherless. I think that’s a good enough reason to celebrate.