Father’s Day Without A Father

Last Sunday, as we sat in our car in the church parking lot before the service started, my nine year old made a quick call to her daddy to wish him a happy Father’s Day. Then with a half-hearted smile, she grabbed my hand and we walked into church.

That’s not the first time Jade has missed out on celebrating Father’s Day, or a special occasion with her father. In fact, in her short nine years, I can recall only one year in her life that her father was home for a full year without deploying somewhere.

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His years of service have entailed either long-term deployments (of 6 months or more), or frequent short-term deployments where we will see him for a month or so, and then say goodbye for a month or so.

A few years ago, about a week before Father’s Day, Jade’s first grade teacher contacted me to express concern for Jade. The kids in her class had been working on Father’s Day gifts, and Jade could not stop crying. Her dad was away again, and she could not bring herself to make him a Father’s Day gift without resorting to quiet sobbing. 

In Jade’s kindergarten year, also around early summer (and Father’s Day), I received a call from the school informing me that Jade was distressed and difficult to console. For some reason Jade thought that I was not going to pick her up from school that day, even though I had never once been late to pick her up. This behavior continued for a few more days, until a little help from the school counselor and some firm reassurance from me, gave her the confidence to believe that she would not be forgotten.

On a more recent occasion, Jade came home from a camping trip with friends. She was excited to tell me about the events of her weekend, until she started to talk about their night-time gathering around the fire place. Her entire demeanor changed as she began to tell me how seeing her friend’s little sister sitting in their father’s lap made her miss her own father.

Jade still struggles with bouts of sadness and anxiety, which manifests in different forms (one year at the end of summer break she pulled out all of her eyelashes), but I continue to pray for her and tell her constantly that she has a heavenly Father who is with her all the time, and who will never leave her.

In a book I read, Praying Circles Around Your Children, author Mark Batterson describes how he hand-picked specific verses for each of his children, according to their individual needs, and how he prays those verses over his children daily. I’ve selected a few verses for Jade that encourage her to reach out to God whenever she feels anxious, but seeing how much she missed her father last Sunday at church, I feel that I need to share with her again some of the bible verses that will reassure her of God’s presence in her life.

So for Jade, and for all other children missing fathers in their lives, the following verses might help to give them peace and comfort during those moments where thoughts of their absent fathers cause them to grieve.

  • 2 Corinthians 6:18  And, “I will be a Father to you {Jade}, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
  • Romans 8:15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship {and daughtership}. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
  • Psalm 89:26 He {and Jade}  will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’
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