Father’s Day for me is always a list of questions.

For example, how can the fatherless write anything good about fatherhood?

Ask for a positive vibe, joyful word, or quirky rhyme, and all I once could offer in response was numb bewilderment.

I had learned the hard way that sharing my experiences can be like a bulldozer to those unprepared to hear about them.

Fatherlessness is what Father’s Day once meant to me.

All I’m left with are ghosts. There’s nothing to build with, only a post-apocalyptic landscape marred by grey ash.

That’s no exaggeration. I’ve looked into my family tree, and that abyss stared back at me.

There’s a century of divorce, dysfunction, and death.

A trio of “D’s” as hauntingly lifeless, and as damagingly selfish, as they were once chaotic.

How can you celebrate what you never truly had?

Presidential Reflections

President Barack Obama, speaking on the significance of Father’s Day at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago in 2008, said,

“At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus closes by saying, “Whoever hears these words of Mine, and does them, shall be likened to a wise man who built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.” [Matthew 7: 24-25]

Obama added,

“Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important.”

“And we are called to recognize, and honour, how critical every father is to that foundation.”

Fathers, he continued, “are teachers and coaches.”

“They’re mentors and role models. They are examples of success, and the men who constantly push us toward it.”

Touching on his own fatherlessness, Obama encouraged dads to reach beyond the broken, telling them to ensure nothing else is.

“I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle — that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls,” he said.

“That if I could give them anything, I would give them that rock — that foundation — on which to build their lives. And that would be the greatest gift I could offer.”

Even though we’re imperfect, he shared, “even as we face difficult circumstances, there are still certain lessons we must strive to live and learn as fathers.”

We build the foundation by leading through example, discipline, loving our wives, and offering our kids hope.

Obama then clarifies,

“I’m not talking about an idle hope that’s little more than blind optimism or wilful ignorance of the problems we face.”

“I’m talking about hope as that spirit inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting for us if we’re willing to work for it and fight for it. If we are willing to believe.”

He’s right.

Overcoming the Odds

I’m happy to say, I’m a father of five — six, if you count the miscarriage.

Telling myself this, is every bit as terrifying for a man without a map, as it is inspiring.

Say it ten times, and I’ll still be the mute, awestruck, bumbling dad I was at every birth.

I may have been built for the dad-life; I was certainly not raised to be a good one.

I had no idea what to do.

There I still am — in some ways.

I’m standing next to my pregnant wife in the hospital, holding the check-up card, and waving it over her in order to cool her down.

I’m no idiot, but it helps to think I was making a difference.

To be fatherless is to be rudderless.

So, I’ll fight against being the absentee father, whom I was told “loved in his own way”, yet still abandoned me.

“I get to be a dad” is what Father’s Day means to me.

It turns out Obama was building on the foundation for fathers set in stone by the 1980’s unforgettable Ronald Reagan.

In proclaiming Father’s Day, the president and father of five said in June 1985,

“In honouring fathers, we honour families.”

“Fathers who love their families can never completely fail, and children will always remember the influence of a father who tries to do his best.”

I’ll still ask myself: what fatherless faults will my kids find lingering?

What fatherless faults will I find in myself, that I haven’t already tried to correct?

At the end of the day, I’m surprised I get to be a father at all.

Living out the awe of this gift, is what this day for dads means to me.

Happy Father’s Day!

___

Photo by Gustavo Fring.

Published On: August 29th, 20230 CommentsTags: , , , , ,

About the Author: Rod Lampard

Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.

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