By Wayne Mytas
It’s not that I have anything against fathersor even having a special day to honor them. But for a child-less man whose image of my own father is criticism and distance, this Sunday morning’s sermon wasn’t exactly making my day. Your Dad as the rock, mentor and best friend? Fine for you; wasn’t that way for me. The joys of loving collision with preadolescent bodies as you walk in the front door? Whatever. Seems this message is succeeding at banging into all my raw bruises. Hey, this service is finally over; I’m outta here.
Almost making my way to the door without saying “Hi” to anyone, I was stopped by a pretty young lady from our youth group. “For Father’s Day,” she said as she placed a bag of cookies in dumbfounded hands.
“Oh….um….thanks!” I replied awkwardly.
Walking to my car, I had to laugh to myself, thinking, “I shouldn’t take these, they aren’t meant for me. I’m not a Dad!” But a grumbling stomach and a hurting, hungry heart took me past the “flee from evil” option, and I pulled one from the zip-lock bag. Savoring melting chocolate chunks and hand-kneaded dough, I was flooded with memories: peering through wavy locks of baby blonde hair as the wrestling five-year-old girl champ pinned me to the floor; holding tightly a sobbing pajama-clad nine-year-old as her warm alligator tears ran from her cheek onto mine, wishing with all my might that I could rescue her from life’s traumas; watching proudly as the young man I was mentoring confidently stood up for a relative’s wedding; having people tell me what a difference I had made in a child’s life.
The caring of an anonymous mom, poured out through a small handful of cookies, had broken through the crust of self pity surrounding a bitter heart. Sugar and shortening and flour and cocoa, seasoned with the salt of my own falling tears, had shown me that God has not forgotten me, but has given me experiences to know what a father’s love is about. My own Heavenly Father, giving me grace when I was appreciating Him the least, had lifted me from the depth and placed me on solid rock … again.
Yes, I still want to be a dad — those feelings never go away. I will, however, choose to proclaim that it is not my parental status that makes me whole, but the love and fullness I receive from my Dad in heaven. Thank you, my Heavenly Father, for blessing me in spite of myself.
As far as my earthly Dad goes, I wonder how distant and critical I would be if I were trying to raise seven kids and keep a failing business afloat. I guess it’s time for a little understanding and grace on my part. Forgive me, Dad.
And one more thing. You know all this talk about chocolate and sugar being bad for you? Don’t believe a word of it.