80 days from today is the first Saturday of the college football season. Thanks to my dad, even though I am from an all girl family, my love for football runs deep. One of my earliest memories was of going to see a Georgia Tech football game with my dad. I was around 6 years old, and someone from work had given him 2 tickets to see the Yellow Jackets, his favorite team, play. Mom worked full time, and with three little girls, Saturday was her catch up day. I remember sitting small in my seat, looking up at my dad as he yelled his heart out at that game.
Thanks to our dad’s love of the game –all 3 of us girls love it too. But beyond just the love of the game, we love the family gatherings that college football games allow us. Football, food and family are one of the biggest joys in my sisters and I’s adult life, and we owe it all to our dad.
As I think about the upcoming football season, and with Father’s Day this weekend-I think about the other parts of my life, some of the very best parts, that are a direct result of the influence of my dad in my life.
Thanks to my dad:
-My sisters and I have the best memories of summer vacations at the beach. Money was always tight at our house, but my dad made one vacation week a year a priority. We packed up the un-air-conditioned car and drove to Florida to stay “on the beach” in a motel. We played in the pool and in the beautiful white sand. We ate breakfast and lunch out of coolers my mom packed from home. We thought then, and we know now, we were the luckiest little girls in the world.
-I love water. A Navy man, my dad had a love for water and swimming that was not a part of his rural north Georgia upbringing. He would tell us stories of him and his buddies jumping off their carrier into the Pacific Ocean to cool off. My dad never had a paid swimming lesson in his life, yet to this day, has one of the most beautiful, graceful freestyle forms I’ve ever seen. His love of water made us love it as kids, and now some of our own family’s happiest memories are made on and around water.
-I love music. Our first introduction to music came through my dad’s ability to sing and play the guitar. While other men came home and read the paper or watched TV- my dad picked up his guitar and sang his stress away. As I got older and would return home from staying after school, when I saw his car in the driveway, I knew I would open the door and hear the guitar coming from the back of the house. And I loved it.
I’ve heard it said that our relationship with our earthly father influences our relationship with our heavenly father. If our experience has been good, we can totally grasp the picture of God as a loving, good father. Likewise, if our experience has been lacking, the thought of God in as a loving father, can be hard to swallow.
I believe that. Thanks to my dad, it has been easy for me to relate to God as a loving heavenly father who is a comfort and anchor in my life because he modeled those qualities so well.
But the greatest gift my dad gave me was the ability to have a happy, healthy marriage. Because I already had a dad, I could choose a husband as a partner, not a replacement.
We don’t get to choose the first man in our lives. Some belong to men whose ability to be a good father is lacking. This can create a void that sends one the trek of a lifetime to fill. It can cause a girl/woman to search a lifetime for someone to make them feel loved, accepted and valued.
I have friends like that. Some of them have histories that include one relationship/marriage after another. My heart is heavy for them this weekend while Fatherhood is lifted high and revered. It is hard for them to relate to the picture of being protected and cared for.
I am so amazed by these friends, who didn’t let the failures of their earthly father, hold them back from embracing their Heavenly Father. They chose to accept His loving care, His faithfulness and His perfect presence. He is the Father who never leaves us. Always loves us and is always waiting for us to come home.
A perfect Father.
And that is worth celebrating everyday.
Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere!