It happens every June. Every June, when I’m standing in the Hallmark Card Department of any store.
Every June, I face the same dilemma.
Every June, every card still says, “You are the perfect father.” or “You’ve always been there for me.”
The pictures still show dad’s tossing their giggling toddlers into the air, or dads and daughters walking down a country road, holding hands; sons fishing beside their dads.
I know I’m not alone. I remember hearing a story several years ago about the Hallmark Company offering prisoners a chance to send a free Mother’s Day card to their Mom’s, and quickly running out of cards. That same year, they did the same for Father’s Day, and hardly a prisoner was interested.
There is a crisis in our world involving fathers, of which I am a product.
There are children- the very young to the very old- all over this planet, who this weekend (and every. single. day thereafter) are facing the chasm that exists between them and their daddies.
And there isn’t a Hallmark card that makes it better.
My Dad story isn’t Hallmark-worthy.
When I stand in a card aisle, longing for what I never had, or may never get, emotions can get the best of me. Many years I’ve gone to my car, and cried. I end up convincing myself once again to move up and out of that pit of disappointment. I guess you could say that it’s my yearly visit to a grave of sorts…facing the loss of what I needed, and have never had.
This year, I am in a different place, for new and different reasons. This year, as I walked past the cards, a lump formed in my throat, but the intense grief wasn’t there. Instead there was a fierce certainty that no matter what has been placed in my hands, my Father in Heaven isn’t absent.
Instead He he fills the void…with His grace.
For a few days, I have been processing those new thoughts, and trying to form them into words that make sense. It wasn’t coming together, until I read this on Ann Voskamp’s blog, just this morning:
“You can look in the mirror and no matter what you know of your father on earth, you can know of your Father in heaven: A Father’s most important job is to know his own heart is secondary to that of His children’s.
And your Father in heaven broke His heart for you on that Cross because His love for you is second to none.”
There it is.
When I look into the mirror and wonder about my identity, I know to Whom I really belong. When I don’t know how to handle fresh pain, He reminds me that His redemptive work on Calvary paid the price for all sin and pain…for always.
That is it.
That is where I’m choosing to live.
Those words will never be said on a Father’s Day Card, but can quite possibly be the very truth that set sons and daughters free.
So this June, where I didn’t find a Hallmark card, I found Jesus.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
-Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)