According to the U.S. Census Bureau, I’m one of over nine million divorced fathers in the United States.
My situation is not one that I expected – or wanted – but it’s one of the many consequences of a broken world.
In recent years, Father’s Day looks different than I anticipated when I first became a dad, but it’s a time to be reminded of the incredibly important role God has me in. My job is to do my best to display love for my son that reflects the love my Heavenly Father shows me.
As a divorced dad, the stakes could not be any higher.
As much as my 5-year-old sees the world as full of amazing treasures to explore, he is also beginning to understand that life has a painful truth – not all is as it should be.
Yes, there is much hope and love to be had, but how his heart interprets brokenness, and how he sees me navigate those waters of fear and disappointment, will contribute to how he develops a personal relationship with God.
A Time for Presence
As a parent with joint custody of my son, it was and still is a hard pill to swallow knowing I am only in his life for half the amount of time. I must make those precious days count each month, and I can make it count by being present.
Much of the brokenness in men today can be attributed to their wounds from childhood, specifically ones from an absent father. If the opposite of absence is presence, then my primary focus should be on being present.
During the first two years living alone with my son, he had a difficult time sleeping by himself. The sleep-training regime I was following wasn’t going well. One night after hearing him cry out for me after tucking him in, I came by his side to talk and calm him down.
I asked him why he couldn’t go to sleep. He looked up at me and said, “I just miss you Daddy.” From that night onward, he sleeps with me when he’s scared.
When I think about the times in my life I felt most alone, I always had the Lord by my side. No matter how bad the storm raged or how desperate I felt my situation was, I had a Heavenly Father I could cry out to, who comforted and held me.
However, my son doesn’t know his Heavenly Father yet. But it’s my job to be a glimpse of that for him. If I’m not present for my son when he cries out for his father, what negative expectations and baggage will he carry when he finds out he has a heavenly Father?
The Glass is Half Full
The answer to the age-old question of whether the glass is half empty or half full depends on the amount of hope in your heart.
There may be emptiness when my son cannot get the amount of time he wants with his parents and grandparents. There may be emptiness and loss in only being there for half of my son’s life, but I am determined to make the most of our time together.
There is a special bond between a father and his son when it is just the two of them with the world to explore. As a 32-year-old working adult, I’ve already become accustomed to the grind of work, career, bills, and other demands, but the energy and spirit of a child is a contagious one.
My son awakens the wonderous and mysterious outlook on the world that I once had at his age, and it is a beautiful thing to awaken – a long walk in the rain to the ice-cream store, the wonder of looking up at the night sky and feeling incredibly small, or the silliness in building a massive pillow fort in the living room while staying up late enough for a midnight snack.
My hope is that our bond will remain strong even on the days he can’t see me, just as my Heavenly Father is always with me even on the days I can’t see Him.
Appreciate the Adventure
No matter what brokenness, trials, joys, and triumphs I encounter in life, I have a Heavenly Father to experience it with. I’ve been trying to relay that truth to my son.
Just as my son’s fear of the dark is but a shadow of a thought during a sunlit day at the park with his dad, so, too, can my fears be when I rest in the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, and the promises of Scripture.
The battle has already been won – one day all things broken will be made new.