Father’s Day and Birthdays. How bittersweet is it that for someone like me, both occasions fall in the same month, and this year, within the same week, driving me to reflect once again on “what ifs.” You see, my dad was absent for the most part of my life.
A birthday is that special day each year when one is surrounded by family and friends to celebrate the day you came into this world. But as the years have come and gone, birthdays had become just another day for me. Nothing special—nothing worth celebrating.
As a child, I remember waiting in anticipation for each birthday, praying that each year would be different—special. I wanted it to be special because my parents and siblings would be home to sit around the dinner table together; special because friends would remember to greet me. But growing up in a highly dysfunctional home, where both parents—especially my dad—were scarcely present, my expectations turned to doubts, and later on became indifference which eventually turned to dread.
Doubts came into my mind whether I mattered to people I looked up to. My indifference grew knowing the fact that I was turning another year older and dread because classmates in school (and later on co-workers) were actually looking forward to the treat rather than being with me.
What affected me most was the fact that I grew up without a father’s guidance. Without a father’s love, assurance, and protection, I realize makes a great deal of difference for anyone, because without him, I tried to look for assurance and love outside the home.
It would be so easy for me to look back with blame and regret, and say: “How different would my life be right now had my dad been present in my life? How different would my life be right now had there been a godly man at home that I could approach for counsel and advise. How different would my life be right now had I grown up with someone who led me with the Word of God.”
Looking at my current situation now as a single parent, I could definitely say my life would have been different had my dad been present. In the first few years, I had strong fears that my child will suffer the same predicament.
But now that I have been saved and understand God’s love as a Father, I know more than to question what had been and what will be. I am thankful for what I now have.
Just as God provided Moses with Jethro as a father-in-law (Exodus 18), who fulfilled his role as a father, my child and I have both also been blessed with godly “dads” and leaders in church and in the Christian family whom I can turn and look to for counsel and advise.
I now enjoy the love, assurance and fellowship of my new and bigger family, and I’m sure God does the same for all who come into His family. With God’s Word planted securely in both our hearts, with prayer and the pursuit of the things of God, I know that we will be okay.
Today, as I count the days to my next birthday, it won’t be just another day. It’s the day that I will always look forward to especially thank God for His abounding goodness and graces, for His faithfulness in the year that ended and for the promises He holds in the year to come.
Casting Crowns wrote a song (“Just Another Birthday”) especially for people in my same situation. It ends with these lines:
Now I know, I know
It’s not just another birthday
‘Cause I’m here, she’s here
And look how far we’ve come
Since you’ve called me, saw me
Held me and freed me
Thank you, Lord, for another birthday
And we’ll be fine
We’ll be fine
For all those who, like me and my child, don’t have an involved dad here on earth, I assure you that we have the best Father in heaven. He is Father to the fatherless.
“A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” (Psalm 68:5-6)