Today is Father’s Day and, to most, it is a joyous holiday. We honor our dads, and for those that are dads, we get to feel especially appreciated. To some it’s more painful. We know those that have lost their dad, and this day is a aching reminder that he is no longer here. Others have had an abusive relationship with their father or were abandoned at a young age. This has been my experience.
I was born in Wiesbaden, West Germany during the Cuban Missile Crisis (look it up if you’re unaware of US history and the real threat of a nuclear war with Russia). My biological father, Barry Goldberg, was a member of the USAF. My earliest memories of him were excitedly watching out the apartment window waiting for him, and upon coming in the front door, he’d throw me gleefully in the air. It didn’t last long. My baby sister arrived and my father disappeared. Forever… No one in my family spoke of him again. Many years later I was told my mother walked in on an affair he was having. My mother refused to discuss it.
When I was 7, my mother remarried. Sal Farenga was from an strict Italian family, who was previously married with 4 kids. I was VERY confused at a young age about all this. Somehow I had a new last name, a new father, and a new family dynamic. This new dad didn’t throw me in the air or show me any attention, and really didn’t bond with me at all. He never went to any of my baseball or soccer games that my teammate’s dads did. I really can’t think of any fond moments with him. I do remember harsh physical punishments for disobedience and a favoritism towards my younger sister.
I spent time with Andrew Fuentes and Wysmar Clealand this morning and they shared stories of their dads. Wysmar remembers going fishing with his dad and him baiting his hook and showing his son how to do fish. Andrew has such a close relationship with his dad, that even yesterday, while they were fixing a pair of scissors together, Andrew stabbed himself with his screwdriver, causing a shallow wound. I was really moved when he mentioned that he’d hoped that the red mark would always stay there, to remember that time with his aging father, knowing their time together might be coming to an end.
I am not bitter or resentful that I didn’t have that bond with either father anymore. I’m sure he did the best he could trying to financially support and raise 6 children. I have tried to compartmentalize these feelings of abandonment and abuse over the years into trying to not duplicate these mistakes with my children. Only they can answer if I’ve been successful.
Joe Stearns shared in his message this morning that there are “Love languages” that include words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. When we ” find out what pleases the Lord” we learn that God’s love language is obedience. In John 14:31 Jesus loves the father and does exactly what he says. Our obedience will lead to success, whether it’s an orchestra or military or the New England Patriots. Joe reminded us a true saving grace is reserved for those who genuinely obey, and in Gal 5:19-21 that those that live like this (and are hypocrites) will not inherit the kingdom of God. Matt 5:14-16 says that “they may see your good deeds and praise God”. We see that our gratitude motivates us and it’s the lifestyle of heaven with 1 common goal… to hear “Well done good and faithful servant”.
So whether we have the greatest relationship in the world with our father or it’s been a more painful reminder, we have a perfect father in heaven that wants to have an amazing relationship with us.
Happy Father’s Day everyone and especially to you God ! Have a great week !