The miracle of fatherhood

Here’s an amusing factoid about Father’s Day.  We all expect the phone lines to be humming every Mother’s Day–but apparently, we reach out to Dad a little differently.  In 2005, Business Week reported that “Father’s Day traditionally marks the year’s busiest collect-call day for AT&T.”  (Read the full article here.)  I don’t know if that’s still true in 2012–but there’s something hilariously revealing about that observation.

And maybe just a little sad.

Oh, I know the stereotype about distant fathers, and sometimes the stereotype fits.  Men of previous generations were taught specifically that their role was to be breadwinners, and learned to provide more for the physical than the emotional needs of their children.  But times are changing.  More and more women, especially in a fragile economy, are the ones who get the education and bring home the bacon.  And more and more men are rediscovering how much they love being Dad.

Nothing in life has taught me more about myself than being a father.  No one on earth can light the fury in me like my children could when their young minds would stiffen with childish rebellion.  Nor could anyone evoke greater tenderness and love: the warmth of my daughter demanding a hug and snuggling into my arms; the sound of my son squealing with impatient delight when he would hear my key turning in the lock at the end of the workday; the answering joy in my own heart.  Some people see my public persona and have asked my kids what it’s like to live with such a serious and intense person.  They laugh off questions like that; at home I have a reputation for a certain kind of goofiness, and I’m afraid it’s genetic.

They’re grown now, with their own lives.  The emotional ups and downs of the earlier years have given way to calmer seas; what it means to be a father has mellowed into something less eventful.  But until the day when I become too addled to remember, I know that I will somehow always be Dad.  It’s part of my DNA, and I will always be grateful for the minor miracle of fatherhood.

And then I think: it is a major miracle that the God of the universe invites us to call him Father.  Best of all, he’s not the “Wait till your father gets home!” kind of father.  He’s the father of the prodigal, the father who ran with reckless abandon to embrace his wayward son (Luke 15).

What does it mean to have a Father like that?

We celebrate our earthly fathers once a year.  Maybe you do it out of love and gratitude.  Or maybe it’s more of a sense of obligation; just leave room for the possibility that your father may love you more than you know, more than he’s ever admitted to you or even to himself.  But even if you have reason to doubt that, take this to heart: every day is an occasion to celebrate the fact that we have a Heavenly Father who has gone to the greatest length conceivable to demonstrate his love to us.  No father is as patient and merciful, faithful and kind.

So call him, anytime.  It’s free, and he’d love to hear from you.

A blessed Father’s Day to all.