One of the ways I used to honour my father was by praying for him. A friend suggested doing that and it was the best thing I could have done to secure a better future for myself and my family. Before I started praying for him he was simply a stranger I had heard about and wanted to meet. Through that process of praying for my father, I began to feel close to him and started to understand his human limitations. It allowed me to think about the regrets he might have felt and the various reasons he may have chosen not to be part of my life. Slowly, I was laying down the resentment I felt towards him.
[I carefully considered how I could use what I’ve learned from my father’s mistake to help other fathers become effective leaders in their homes.]
What my father did to my mother (which had a negative impact on her and the relationship between my mother and I) was in no way honourable, yet I was called to honour him. I couldn’t understand that and quite frankly, I didn’t want anyone telling me “The bible says you must ‘honour your father and mother’…” especially on Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. With lack of understanding and no one explaining it, it didn’t mean much to me. I was too angry with them to even try and figure out what that meant to me or ask for explanation. For that reason my Christian walk was somewhat stagnant for a very long time.
[I wanted to speak out against the injustice ... I didn’t feel free to speak out. I now understand that silence then was the best way I could honour my father.]
EMPOWERING CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
[What does a father’s honour look like to a child who never had a father?]
Silence: The benefit of praying for my father
[...I began to feel close to him and started to understand his human limitations.]
Prayer for my father: Does that constitute honour?
As I grieved the loss of my childhood, I found myself stuck in the anger zone. In those moments the temptation was to highlight his faults in vindicating my mother and letting other fathers like him know how wrong they were to treat women in such disrespectful ways (as my mother was treated) and as a result being excluded from their children's lives or relinquishing their roles as fathers.
Whenever I embarked on such a mission I was reminded to let no unwholesome words come from my lips so that my words can be edifying to those who hear. I wanted to speak out against the injustice but the time had not yet come and so I didn’t feel free to speak out. I now understand that silence then was the best way I could honour my father.
Although what I had to say may have helped women or men who have been abused that way and children who were hurting from the absence of a father in their lives, it would have been written from a place of anger, with a heart filled with resentment for an absent father. That would not have been helpful to any father who may have stumbled upon my writing and I would be living with even more regrets today.
Therefore, silence has its place in the grieving process. It played its role in my healing and now I can see how it played its role in helping me to honour my father.
Shortly after starting to regularly pray for my father, I found that instead of focusing my attention on the fact that he wasn’t part of my life, I began looking at what I had learned as a fatherless child and how I could use my experience to advocate for the fatherless among us.
Whilst I wanted to help children who were hurting, I was made aware that these hurting children are growing up to be the next generation fathers and mothers and they were already learning to be absent fathers and single mothers. That opened my eyes to what the past and current generation of leaders had as a model and I no longer saw from the child’s perspective but also the adult’s perspective. Once that happened, I carefully considered how I could use what I’ve learned from my father’s mistake to help other fathers become effective leaders in their homes.
Using the experience to empower families is one of the ways I can honour my father now that he’s dead. It’s different and doesn’t seem like it is really about my father. But in the long term, I believe it will help other absentee fathers to turn their hearts towards their children. Therefore, it is a better use of my time, energy and gifts to allow God to use the negative aspects of my life (what the devil meant for evil) and turn it around for good. That will help empower families and in so doing, I will be using my writing to glorify my heavenly father. That is honouring my father.
Father’s Day has always been a real challenge for me, not knowing what ‘honouring a father’ really looks like or what it means for me as an individual. I didn’t have a father so Father’s Day simply made no sense to me. How can I truly honour a father who did not honour his role as a parent?
What does a father’s honour look like to a child who never had a father?