When Father's Day Hurts

 

Heather Davis Nelson

I was blessed to be raised by a dad who loved me well as his daughter. He cherished me, led me to Jesus over and over again, and proudly gave me away to the man I married almost eight years ago. This man has been a father for four years to our twin daughters, and I daily thank God that my girls have such a father to call “Daddy.”

This isn’t an article about my pain, but it’s an article about the pain so many of you carry on this day. God calls us to bear one another’s burdens, and in my calling as a counselor and friend, I have heard your stories, and I hurt for you today. I wanted you to know that someone notices, sees, and acknowledges today’s pain.

Today may be painful because you’re grieving the father you never knew. The father you wish you had known, but whose absence leaves a hole in your heart and your life. A hole that you’ve tried to fill a thousand other ways.

Pain may show up in many different ways.

The Pain of Losing Your Father

Your pain may be the absence of a father you knew and loved dearly and who is now gone. Whose death you grieve today most keenly. I pray the God of all comfort will meet you in each avenue of sorrow you will walk through today as you know him as Father and the ever-present one.

The Pain of an Abusive Father

Or maybe the pain comes from a father who violated the protection and trust meant to be inherent in your relationship. Abuse of any sort—emotional, physical, or sexual—breaks boundaries established by God and leaves indelible pain, confusion, and deep wounds. Your journey feels long and hard and impossible and dark. You may not even be able to speak of what happened, and so you fake a “Happy Father’s Day” greeting to the man who did what should not be done. 

I hurt for you and with you, and if you need a safe place to talk, find a trusted friend or counselor or pastor and begin to share this pain. Speaking about such things feels as if it will multiply shame, but that’s the kingdom of darkness trying to keep you from coming into the light. When light shines in the darkness, the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5). 

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