When I was senior in high school I decided I would try and do something that my dad loves to do. That thing is hunting. I never had an interest in hunting but I thought maybe if I just try it I would like it. My father has a love for hunting and fishing and I thought that maybe it would be fun if that could be something that him and I could do together. I do have an older brother that has the same kind of love for hunting so I thought surely I would too. Well the day came and we decided that we would go out. I believe my dad had a doe tag he had to fill so I was going to tag along and help him out. I dressed warm, wore my wool socks, layers of clothes and then put on the lovely bright orange vest. We headed out and dad found a spot of land that he said looked like a good area. We sat there for what seemed like eternity and just waited and watched, and watched and waited. I think I was having more fun with the binoculars than I was attentively trying to wait for a deer to appear. Well dad said he thought that maybe we should get out and start walking. We walked forever, through water, through weeds, through grass as tall as my knee, and through trees. This was starting to become not so fantastic. After a little while longer my dad said he thought maybe some deer were hiding in some thick brush area. He told me to go over there and just walk by it and he would stay where he was. So I did what he said and I started walking by this thick brush area, trying to be quiet, not really knowing why my dad sent me out there when all of the sudden I heard something move in the brush and 3 or 4 deer jumped out. Now remember I am a 17 year old girl who has never been hunting before. The moment I heard and saw the deer right beside spurred an instant reaction that involved screaming and running as fast as I could. Needless to say he did not fill his doe tag that day and I never went hunting again…EVER. A couple of things I learned that day is binoculars are fascinating and I make a lousy hunting partner!
As Father’s Day is upon us I’m reminded of that day and in particular those binoculars. Yes, the binoculars lol! It amazed me that day how looking through one side of the binoculars the object looked so big and so close. However, if you were to flip the binoculars that object would appear small and far away. Yes, as an adult it makes sense why that works the way it does but as a child it amazed me. The perspective changed depending on which side of the binoculars you were on and I think it’s not different with Father’s Day. The view from a child and a view from a father. Typically on Father’s day we hear from just one side but we’d like to give you a perspective from both sides of the preverbal ‘looking glass’.
View of a Child
I look back at that day of hunting as a memory that only me and my dad can share. It was special because it was something that he loved to do and it was something that I had never done before. Although there was no defining conversation or life changing event that day, it will be a day that I will never forget because it was full of daddy, daughter time and I celebrate him and what he means to me. Why do I celebrate my dad? Well for starters he made me. He wanted me. He desired to be a dad and he gave it his all to be the best dad he knew how to be. What makes my dad great? Love, unconditional love makes my dad great. Loving me even when it hurts, that kind of love. Patience makes my dad great. Cleaning up the 3rd cup of milk spilt during one meal and not completely losing it, that kind of patience. Forgiveness makes my dad great. Forgiving me after breaking his heart, that kind of forgiveness or saying he was sorry when he knew he was wrong, that kind of forgiveness. Grace makes my dad great. Remaining constant and never giving up on me, that kind of grace. Trust makes my dad great. Trusting me when I continued to fail, that kind of trust. Adventure makes my dad great. Exploring everything around us, that kind of adventure. Smiles make my dad great. Keeping joy in our life even when life wasn’t happy, that kind of smile. Security makes my dad great. Making our house a home and a life of no worry, that kind of security. Hugs make my dad great. Holding me while I cry on his shoulder, that kind of hug. From teaching me how to ride my first bike to patiently teaching me how to drive a manual transmission, he was there. From teaching me who Noah is in the Bible to becoming my professor in college, he was there. From putting a promise necklace around my neck to placing my heart in my husbands hands, he was there. From giving me my first baby doll to holding my hand during labor of my own baby, he was there. He was there, that is all that mattered to me. He was the best, not because he handed the world to me on a silver platter and gave me everything I wanted. He was the best because he was there. He taught me to never give up and keep Christ the center of my life. He didn’t only teach me these things through words, of which being a pastors kid I heard a lot of, but he showed me through his actions and who he was behind the scenes. God gave me my dad because he knew I needed him. I needed him to show me love, I needed him to show me forgiveness, I needed him to hold me when I was scared, I needed him to high five me when I did something awesome, I needed him to help me when I was drifting away, I needed him when I had to make big decisions, and I needed him when I thought I didn’t need him and guess what, he was there, EVERY single time. There are so many things that make a dad great, but what truly makes a dad a hero is when he decides to be there. When he decides that being a father is much more than just having a child, its when he chooses to be a daddy, that’s when he becomes a hero. I have a hero and I call him dad.
View of a Father
Much like the contrasting views of the binoculars, the very things that children reference to invoke praise on Father’s Day are the very things we as Father’s can see as our greats failures. Even as I was reading the well written praise my wife was giving to her Dad I was reminded of how much better of a Father I could be …. How much better I SHOULD be.
Love, patience, forgiveness, grace, trust, adventure, smiles, security, and hugs. Sometimes when I look through the binoculars I see a small and distant version of these. The lack of patience I show on occasion, or finding myself mentally counting how many times I’ve hugged my kids this week. Do I make them smile enough or give them enough memories filled with adventure. I know it’s 2017 and this isn’t always the case but for the most part we as Father’s carry the responsibility of the being the ‘Provider’. What is sad is before you even started this next sentence most of us had already minimized that title to a monetary view, and I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I believe God did create us to fulfill the role of ‘Provider’ but I believe his view was so much grander than just salaries and health benefits. Yes, it’s important to provide those things for our families in the best way possible and sometimes that by humbling ourselves when our wives are bringing in the majority of the income. But we were made to provide so much more than that but how quickly do both our success and failure of the monetary provision distract us from the smiles, hugs, and adventure. I know I’m not the first Father who wanted to hide on the couch due to depression from not being able to ‘provide’ or rest on the couch from spending all day ‘providing’. And sometimes on Father’s Day the compliments showered on me can feel hollow because I know how much better I can do ….. But maybe that’s cause I’m looking through the wrong side of the binoculars.
I believe in balance and moderation and I don’t want to live in an ignorant fantasy world where I never recognize my failures and short comings. However, I think it’s healthy for Dad’s to every once in a while flip over the binoculars and see what they see. The time you decided to skip an inning of the game and instead of watching people play catch in your man cave you went out and played catch yourself. Or the time you got up a little early to have cereal with your little girl instead of catching another ½ hr of sleep. Or when you rushed from work as fast as you could just to be able to make the last have of your son’s concert. No, you might not know a thing about music and everything sounded out of tune but when he looked out in the crowd during the standing ovation … you were there. Yes, when you look through your side of the binoculars those all seem pretty small, but flip them over and they become monumental moments of provision from a father. Providing something that no one else can provide …. You. Yes, I’m far from a perfect father and I often feel like I fail more than I succeed, but I think that’s where we get caught up! I look at Fathers like a tball game. Stop keeping score because that doesn’t matter in the end …. Just make sure you’re in the game.
So on this Father’s day I would encourage you to flip the binoculars for a bit and see what they see. Yes, it might be an exaggerated and slightly distorted view of what you consistently are as a Dad but it just might fuel you to more consistently reflect that image. Continue being the hero that they already see.