For two months out of the year, I’m the Queen. Special things happen to me like breakfast in bed, poems written in my honor, days planned just how I want them, parties and dinners out. The servants bend over backwards to spoil me rotten. That’s because I have a birthday in April and Mothers Day in May. I milk those cows till there’s not a drop left.
But this year, by the time Mothers Day rolled around, breakfast in bed was a little lack luster. Cold toast, cold coffee. Hm. I diagnosed the servants with Extravagant Indulgence Fatigue, and thought I should give them a break from their dutiful spoiling. That’s what a good queen would do, right?
Now it’s Fathers Day, and the servants are busy crafting, decorating, and preparing special treats for their daddy. Sweet and Sassy have mountains of camouflage duct tape, empty shoe boxes, and their dad’s favorite candies. Something marvelous will emerge from the pile just in time for Sunday, and it will be my turn to bring the breakfast in bed.
Special events like Fathers Day pile up in our memories like the craft mound currently in my daughters’ rooms. If you rummage through that pile of memorable images, you may find some things you want to keep, some things you want to throw away, and some things that stick to you like duct tape.
Maybe it’s easy to keep the happy memories of riding on the back of your dad’s motor cycle, or playing that duet together on the piano, or hugging goodbye as you left home and he exhaled the unforgettable words, “I’m proud of you.”
But there may be some memories that aren’t so good, like the time he said he would be there but never showed, or when he flew into a rage filling you with shame, or when you wanted his shoulder to cry on and he didn’t know how to give it.
Fathers play a significant role in the family. A father’s presence, actions, and tone leave a powerful aftermath in the heart of their children. Fathers Day should be one of celebration, gifts, phone calls and thank you cards.
But what if it’s not? What if the relationship is broken? What if he is gone?
What if the painful memories of the past seem to cling to you so tightly, you have trouble letting go? Here are a few steps to get unstuck from past father wounds:
- Recognize the wrong doing and call it what it was. You don’t have to address your father face to face about past hurts, in fact, I don’t usually recommend this. But between you, your journal, a counselor or friend, recognize the pain of your past. Recognize that it cost you something. Naming it is the first step in letting it go.
- Make active decisions toward forgiveness. You can’t do this step without doing the first one. But once you’ve recognized the pain and the injustice, then determine to forgive and let it go. Your father was imperfect, and loved you imperfectly. When you accept him in this way, you’ll find that you will accept yourself more easily too.
- Pray for the good. By actively praying for good, blessing, joy, strength, happiness for your father, you’ll experience the pain of the past losing its stickiness. It just won’t be as significant anymore. Even if he is no longer living, do this anyway. Time is irrelevant to God.
- Write a Gratitude List. Write down all the things you are thankful for in the past and in the present. As you meditate on the good, the bad will lose its power. Your brain likes repetition because it causes expediency and efficiency. Give thanks, rinse and repeat. The more you train your brain to be grateful, to focus on the positive, to let go of the bad and keep the good, the more automatic positivity becomes.
When I wrote God Unwrapped: God is Love but not the Kind You’re Used To, I wrote it to the person who had sticky father memories. I wrote it to the person who had a hard time relating to God because they had a hard time relating to their own dad. If that’s you, give yourself a gift this Fathers Day by strengthening your relationship with God, the ultimate Father.
Just in time for Fathers Day, God Unwrapped is discounted by 50%- paperbook and e-book. Hot diggity, right? Click on the book if you’d like to get the book at $6.99 instead of $13.99. The offer disappears Wednesday the 18th, so get it cheap while you can!