I sure miss you, Dad. There are so many times I want to call you just to hear your voice once again. The kids talk about you all the time. You wouldn’t believe how they’ve grown. It’s hard to imagine it’s been a year already. I just want you to know that I thank God for you every day. You were such a good dad. Always had an encouraging word. Always there for me—at every game and band concert, at my side when I was having a bad day. Always knowing just what to say to get me through every situation. You taught me what it means to be a good father. You taught me how to love. I am what I am because of you.
At another cemetery in the same town stood a man, his hands in his pockets, before his father’s gravestone.
I don’t even know why I’m here. My shrink thought it was a good idea. I’m not so sure. You never listened to me when you were alive, why on earth would you listen when you’re dead?
How I wish I could forget you. But every day I’m haunted by the memories. The drinking, the raging, the cursing, the hitting; choosing to spend time with your buddies at the bar instead of coming home to your son. I’ll say this about you, Dad, you devoted time to the things you loved most. And now thanks to you I get to go through life unable to trust. Incapable of getting close to anyone. Paralyzed by fear. Always second-guessing myself. Feeling that no matter what I do it will never be good enough. I have no clue what it means to be a man. And I have you to thank. I am what I am because of you.
We cannot choose the kind of relationship, if any, we had with our fathers. I would never have chosen to be born of an alcoholic dad. It would not have been my choice to have a childhood marked by that kind of abuse, heartache, and disappointment. But, as I became an adult, I was led to realize that there are many things I could choose in life.
So I chose not to be a victim.
I chose not to be defined by my father’s alcoholism.
I chose to rise above my circumstances.
But the single biggest choice that started me on the path to wholeness and healing was this: I chose to pursue a relationship with my Heavenly Father.
Although I couldn’t comprehend why God allowed this burden in my life I made a conscious decision not to turn my back on my Heavenly Father just because my earthly father turned his back on me. I chose to find out the truth about Him. And that truth has led to unimaginable freedom.
- He is a Father I can trust.
- He is a Father I don’t have to be afraid of.
- He is a Father who delights in spending time with me.
- He is a Father who offers to replace my pain with His peace.
- He is a Father who uses heart-wrenching experiences in the lives of His children to strengthen our resolve, to deepen our faith, and to teach us to trust.
I now humbly kneel before my Heavenly Father and say, I am what I am because of You.