My father used to have a phrase “Just gotta be tough”. He’d use this phrase whenever either of us would be going through something hard. He didn’t just use it on me, but on his own trials. I always imagined the moments he just had to be tough, especially with 3 tours in Vietnam. When I went in for appendix surgery several years ago, he told me at least I had people that loved me around as I was worried about my first surgery. When he had his, he was in the military hundreds of miles from home and no family there with him. He just had to be tough. Those words ring in my ears every time I face a trial and it brings a smile to my face and gives me a bit of strength.
I was very close to my own father, so even coming up on four years after his death, I find it hard to write something for Father’s Day. Last night when I tried to write something, I played the song that I had played at the end of his funeral “Love Without End, Amen” by George Strait. Then I played “That’s My Job” by Conway Twitty, and I was done writing because I was crying. Even now four years after losing him, I still have my moments. He was a very loving man with his own set of flaws that he brought with him, but it was the love that I remember most and that is what left the deepest and most precious memories.
I think of those words from the George Strait song and then I think of the many fathers I have known over the years. I think about our Father who art in heaven, and I realize a little better how he works. It probably helps that I am a father as well. I understand that sometimes you just have to let your children learn the hard lesson, because while it hurts to watch them go through it, you know it’s the best way for them to learn the lesson. That sometimes that stubborn child that is just like you – isn’t going to listen to anything you say, and that the hard lesson is the only way they’ll understand.
My father, probably a year before I lost him, made the comment that he knew he wasn’t going to heaven because of the things he had done. I asked him if I had done bad things but was sorry for them, would he let me in his house. He said, you know I would. I told him, then you have your answer about heaven don’t you. Fathers may set rules and be a little tough now and again, but their heart never stops caring no matter what the exterior might show. The heart has a love that doesn’t end.
Jesus spoke of love being the greatest commandment. When I think of the love I have for my children, I have a little better understanding of the love that comes from above. My father would give the shirt off his back if he thought it would help someone. That part of his heart exists in me and that gift is precious to me. I wonder what it was like for God to watch his son come down, knowing what the end result was going to be and the pain he would endure, how that must have broken his heart. The anger he must have felt when his son was crucified, and only being held in check by the words “Father forgive them”.
A father’s love is truly something without end, and while not always an obvious thing to see, it is there.
Happy Father’s Day to all the father’s that love without end.