(If you think I wrote something similar a while back, I did here. This just shows that sometimes the feelings return and I have to talk myself through them again.)
Father's Day is coming. My widowed friend mentioned this was a hard day for her to attend church. Not that she wouldn't go, because partaking of the Lord's Sacrament and renewing sacred covenants is, after all, the reason we go to Church and is far too important to pass up. But that it's just hard, being widowed- the father of her children is not present on a day set aside to revere fathers. We discussed the difficulty our children might have on Father's Day as well. How many people feel lost on these occasions? It hurt to think that celebrating something wonderful and God-given, as fathers are, would be difficult for some of us.
I thought about the first Father's Day after my dad had passed away. There was much in my life to be happy about, yet the sadness was still there. My Dad was gone from this life and I missed knowing he was there, even while I heard others speak of their fathers and the things they had planned to do together. A few weeks later, I was invited to sing at a funeral. The man was much older than my father had been when he passed away. He'd had more opportunity than my own father or even my late husband to have a fatherly impact in this life. There were not only grandchildren in attendance, but great-grandchildren. He had been beloved by all, even those who disagreed with his faith. One grand-daughter said, "He was like another dad to me. If I was mad at my dad, I couldn't be mad at Grandpa." I wondered, who are my second fathers? Surely I had them...but who were they?
The words of the song were poignant:
"O My Father, thou that dwellest in the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence and again behold thy face?"
(Hymns, O My Father, 292, Eliza R. Snow)
On the surface, the words sound like a hymn for the fatherless, but they are not. The poet is referring to our Heavenly Father. One who is Father to all of us.
"Our Father, by whose name all fatherhood is known,
Who dost in love proclaim each family thine own."
(Hymns, Our Father By Whose Name, 296, F. Bland Tucker)
I thought about the many people in our lives who act as second fathers, even when we have good fathers present and active in our lives. I thought about my sons, how they love their children, but how they love their nieces and nephews also and how they can be like second fathers to them. All around me are good men who teach their sons to be good men. I can be thankful for that.
I thought of my Heavenly Father, of the many blessings HE showers down on me. Regardless of our situation- whether we have living fathers or not, or if our fathers have been involved in our lives or not, or any other of myriad father situations, we all have a Father who loves us and is there for us. Just like earthly fathers, we can deny His existence, we can exclude Him from our lives or we can turn to him for everything. But unlike earthly fathers, He will never leave us, even when we turn from him. He is always there.
I know there's the whole line of thinking that we should honor our fathers and mothers every day, so why make a fuss on one day? And there's good reason in that thought, but we DO make a fuss on one day. And we rob ourselves of a lot of happiness and good memories if we let our bitterness or grief over our earthly situation sideline us from such celebrations. Maybe it's my 'party girl' instinct, but on this Father's Day, I choose to jump in. I choose to celebrate good fathers of all kinds. I will celebrate my sons who are wonderful fathers and uncles. I choose to appreciate and thank good men everywhere who do father-like things for others. And, most of all, I can praise and worship my Heavenly Father, who made a glorious earth and placed His beautiful children on it. He made a Plan of Happiness where we can learn and grow and gain eternal blessings! And He loves and blesses me and my family every day. On this Father's Day, I choose to gather with good people at church where we raise our voices in praise to Him.
"And now we'll sing great praise and rev'rently recall
The Holy One who gave his Son,
The Father of us all."
(Children's Songbook, Fathers, p.209, Dawn Hughes Ballantyne and Joyce Mills Jensen)