Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

IMG_4220 2This Father’s Day, I am visiting my 97-year-old dad. He is hard of hearing, in a wheelchair but still clear in his mind. We are blessed! Despite the setbacks of aging, his mood is remarkably upbeat. He rarely complains and knows that when he dies he will be with the Lord and joining all those who have gone before him. Knowing my father is closer to heaven than earth seems harder on me than on him. The thought of losing him brings tears. Even with the hope of seeing him again, physical loss of parents is palpable.

Every year, I think, “Could this be my last Father’s Day with my dad? My mom has already left us and he is next.” When moments of that reality hit, sadness wells inside of me. I know he has lived a long life and that I am fortunate to still have him around, but parent loss is still loss. The sound of their voice is no more when they leave us.

So this year, like every year, appreciate your dad. We really don’t know how long we have them in our lives. Don’t get caught up in what he did or did not do for you. Rather find a way to honor him. This is our biblical mandate. One of the best ways to do this is simply to listen to his life story. What made him the man he is today? What life lessons can you learn from him? Knowing your dad’s story brings empathy and understanding.

Acknowledge your dad in your own achievements. How did he contribute? In my case, college was not optional. He didn’t have the chance to go to college and truly believed his children all needed to go. We all did and are grateful for his push to education.

Your dad may not have done everything right. Some of you may even feel failed by your dad. But this one day a year, be merciful and full of grace. Give him honor and model this for your children. Find a positive memory and focus on it. Choose the path of grace.

And perhaps the biggest gift you can offer is the gift of forgiveness. Don’t wait for him to acknowledge wrong, instead choose to forgive. It will give you freedom. Then engage him in something pleasant or fun in order to create a good memory. Get him to laugh, relax or enjoy his grandkids. I’ve never had a patient tell me that they were sorry they chose the road of forgiveness. On the contrary, they report  a lifting of a weight after doing the forgiveness.

Maybe your dad is elderly like mine and can’t give back much at this stage in his life. This means we step up and give back to them. So this weekend, love on your dad, tell him you appreciate him, pray for him, forgive and extend grace. The promise is that as we honor our father and mother as God commands us to do, it will go well with us. This Father’s Day, be a model of grace. Live in the blessing of honoring your dad.

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