Happy Father’s Day (2017)
Happy Father’s Day.
Becoming a father is dangerously easy. Being a good father is the hardest thing I have ever attempted. It is a full time job with no off days that leaves me constantly wondering if I am profoundly screwing the whole thing up. It is 10,000 judgement calls everyday with painfully little assurance that any of them are right. On top of that the stakes could not possibly be higher. The two young men that I have the privilege to call my sons rightfully count on me not only for room and board but for guidance in becoming who they were created to be. It is too much. It is too difficult. It is too terrifying. And it is all worth it. Every second. My journey through fatherhood is now the guiding force behind me becoming who I was created to be. It is the last thing I would give up in this world, including my life. I LOVE being a father.
For me, part of the reason I love it is because I have such a positive association with fatherhood. An all too rare gift these days I’m afraid. My own father was a great man. I truly believe he was a modern prophet. Not a saint. Not perfect. But a man blessed with special insight about the most important aspects of life. He took that blessing and used it to take care of me and my Mom and siblings and taught and supported and corrected and loved me every day he was alive. Even now, years after his premature death, I lean heavily on who he was as a man and husband and father. And I am better for it. In the first few years after his death, Father’s Day made me angry. I had this incredible mentor who became one of my best friends and he was taken from me while lesser men, who have abandoned their children get to live on. I am not someone who believes this is unfair, but in certain moments of emotion fueled myopia, it still pissed me off. I need my Dad. I was not done learning. I was not done enjoying being with him. I have sons of my own that need more than I can teach them and he would have happily played that role. I should still have my giant, bearded, brilliant father to teach and support and correct and love me! I just should!
But now, with a bit more time and perhaps a bit of maturing, I have a different perspective. Now as another Father’s Day is here I am not angry. I still miss my Dad, but I find that my gratitude has pushed away my anger to leave me feeling simply thankful. First, I am thankful for the years I had with my Father. Thankful for the effort he made and the countless hours I spent with him making my life better by his simple decision to spend the time with me. I am thankful for the lessons, the hikes, the time stuck in tents in the rain, the road trips, the anger when I betrayed my own potential, the strength of character he exhibited, his sense of humor, the love he had for my Mom, the words he spoke when he married me to my wife, the excitement he showed at the birth of my boys, the faith he shared with me and nurtured in me, and for the three and a half decades we had together which left me with a foundation of love, faith and treasured memories that remind me of who I am meant to be. That is more than I deserved. That is more than most receive. That is something to be eternally grateful for. And I am. Father’s day is no longer a day of mourning, but a day for me to look back and marvel at the gift it was to begin my life in the arms and heart of such a great man.
Second, I am thankful for my other fathers. By this I mean the other men who cared enough for me or my family to interrupt their lives to teach and support and correct and love me. As if the father I had was not blessing enough, God surrounded me with other great men so that even now in the absence of my own father, I am standing on the shoulders of men whose love holds me up against life’s toughest challenges. The list of men who have played this role for me in one way or another is too long for me to list. But a few should be called out so that if you know them you will also know that father’s day is a day for these men to be honored not only for fathering their own children but for standing up for me as well. Rudy Morrow, Randy Young, Tim Woodruff, Mike Patterson, Jim Benner, David Gibson, Sam Tumlinson, Philip (Papa) Stump. These men are not saints. They are not perfect. But each of these men intentionally interrupted my life to make it better. They have improved my life beyond my ability to describe. I find that I feel the gravity of their impact on me more and more with each passing year.
Third, I am thankful to the dozens of men who still teach me everyday how to be a better father myself. Men like my three brothers, Jeff Morrow, Curt Stratton, Jeeva Ratnathicam, Aaron Metcalf and Tony Davis. These are fantastic men doing their best to love their children and simply watching them on their own journey has left me immeasurably more prepared for my own.
Finally, Father’s Day makes me thankful for my creator. Described as “Father” in the ancient text that I rely on most to know my God, He has been the most consistent force for good in my life and whether He is there as my Father or Mother or Master or Friend, every good thing I have ever done as a father I owe to the love of God.
Even with all of that, as the years pass, I find that Father’s Day becomes less and less about my role as son to the many fathers who have molded my life. Instead, it has increasingly become about the wonderful, horrifying, bewildering and inescapable fact that I am a Father. I look proudly at my boys and the men they are becoming and the beauty and potential still just beginning to take form in their lives and I am so moved by the honor and excitement of being their Dad that it overwhelms any fear or frustration or doubts I may have about the job I am doing as a Father. And my reflection on fatherhood leaves me with these immutable truths that sustain me every day —
I have been loved. I am loved. And so, I love. That is the greatest Father’s Day gift there is.
Happy Father’s Day indeed.