Father's Day looks different to different people. I used to naively think most of us have great dads who love and care for their families. There's no shortage of Hallmark cards for those people. Dads who come home from work. Dads who teach you right from wrong. Dads who mow the lawn. Dads you get to make memories with. I had one of those dads. A good-hearted man who was solid and caring and hardworking. And to him I wish a Happy Father's Day. Love you Dad.
Then the man I fell in love with and married became a dad himself. As I mention in our book, Troy was as much born to be a father as he was to be a fighter pilot. He loved his kids unequivocally. Wholly engulfed, smitten crazy about each of them. His absence left a devastating crater in what we called home and family. It was then that my eyes were opened that there are all different kinds of fatherless kids. All kinds of broken families. People who are fatherless for a bunch of different reasons. People who have fathers but aren't being fathered by them at all. People who have fathers that hurt them, leave them... And then ones like us who had the best there was to offer and then woke up one sunny morning and discovered they were gone forever. Troy left behind many things - a great foundation, superior role modeling, loving memories, a heritage of faith, lots of things we can't touch but are very much real. Thankfully he also left behind things we can hold. Things like this note to his then 8 year-old son which would be full of prophetic truths.
Reading it all these years later... Does it comfort? Of course. Does it hurt? Absolutely. It seemed like life was just beginning for him as a father and then it was over. It seemed he started something in the lives of five young children that he should have at least gotten a shot at finishing. Sometimes Father's Day makes me mad. Or sad. It's a mixed bag of pain and joy and reminds me of the Greatest Father. The One that sends father-figures, uncles, friends, pastors, even strangers to help us all remember we are loved and wanted and that we belong. We are fathered by many, not just by one. It's those men I thank today. Too many to name here. The ones who stood in the gap for Troy and still do. Aspen didn't feel good this afternoon. She also didn't hesitate to fall into Jim's safe arms.
Jim Ravella, father of seven, knows what it means to be held because he learned it from his Father. Those long days and nights sitting in a hospital by Andrea's side. Jim's earthly father died before Andrea was even diagnosed with cancer. Jim had to count on God to guide him. I had to count on God to hold me. I had to trust God to be what He promised - a Father to the fatherless. Sometimes Father's Days come when you need them the most and not on a day on the calendar. Because sometimes those days on the calendar are just sitting there waiting to be crossed off because they hold hurt. But there are also days when our Heavenly Father reminds you He hasn't forgotten you. Today was that day for me. The Lord didn't leave any of us where we were 10 years ago on that sad sad Father's Day of 2007. And much like what the sweet testimony from a foster dad at church this weekend recounted - sometimes you are called to love someone with your whole heart no matter whether you birthed them or get to stay with them forever or not. You love them recklessly for the season you are given. That is truly what will make all the difference. Thank you to both Troy and Jim for letting me watch you grow into amazing dads to my children. But most of all, thank you Lord God for being that reckless-love-kind-of Abba Father to all of us.