I found myself sitting in tears on the edge of his bed.
Apparently a five year old demanding to brush his teeth and pick out a treat right before naps was just too much for this mama to handle. Too much to take right after the three year old fussed and kicked and huffed his way through his nap-time song and only stayed in bed after "I'll take away Sully" and other disciplinary threats. Yes, a little boy's longing to clean his pearly whites with big-kid toothpaste was just enough to push me over the edge because the two year old's screams were still echoing in my foggy mama brain, along with the bewilderment over how little lungs from such a sweet child can belt out so much belligerence over dropped Crocs that I couldn't pick up fast enough.
There were hugs and I'm sorry's the whole house over and somehow I made it through the last refrain of "Gentle Shepherd" and closed the last bedroom door.
The house is now calm but my soul is still in chaos.
Wiping more tears.
Feeling like I'm totally failing.
Why else would each of my boys yell and hit and struggle?
Why else would these ordinary everyday trials bring me to tears?
I breathe deep.
Listen to the birds.
I know I'm not a failure.
I know this raising the next generation thing is really hard.
And I know my torrent of disproportional anger and sadness is not just about the next generation. It's also about the last generation and this swell of grief over the one in it I lost.
My dad is dead.
It's the day after Father's Day.
I don't really know how I feel. I just feel—a hole.
And it makes me want to crawl into one.
Because the endless Facebook feed of aged pictures from years gone by and moving tributes to "The best dad anyone could ask for" stirs in me more than thankfulness for the gifts my friends have been given.
It stirs longing for what is gone and for what I never had.
But it also stirs me to pray...
For all the sons and daughters who have lost their amazing fathers.
For all the kids (small or grown) who met their dad yesterday for a family BBQ but have never had their fatherly needs truly met.
For all the wives who can't post, "My husband if the best dad ever!" because he walked out or gave up or cancer took his life or he took it himself.
Really, I'm praying for us all. Because while it's great to celebrate dads—(Yes, celebrate we should! My husband IS an amazing father and I cheer him on with gratitude and admiration!!)—every dad, like every man and every woman, is a mixed bag of blessings and mess-ups because we live in a fallen world.
And chances are, Father's Day (and Mother's Day, too) stirs something up in all of us becuase no one is living the full technicolor picture of a fairytale life.
We all carry hearts that have been both bruised and blessed by our earthly parents.
And the only way to reconcile the unmet longings and unfilled gaps is to turn to the only Father who will step in, hold you up, meet your needs, love you perfectly, always keep His word, and never disappoint.
So for me, for you, for us, I'm crying out:
Abba! Father! Holy One! Please hold me. Hold each of your children, so precious and loved and seen by you. Hold us close and let us feel your love. Help us to invite you in to every heart hole that's aching. That we may allow all our gaps and lacks and longings to be filled with more of YOU. Amen.
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I'd love to share more with you about the journey of losing my dad. Read about how my heart was blessed by my earthly father. And how my life was also bruised by him.