“Come on Buff you can do it, just bend your knees, throw the ball, and follow through.” It was only the twentieth time I had tried to throw that basketball over the street sign on our road, and each time it hit the sign and bounced back to me. I just couldn’t throw it high enough, and I was pretty much over the whole “basketball” thing after the third failed attempt, but my dad just stood there patiently retrieving the ball and giving it back to me. “Bend knees, throw, follow through” I recited as I prepared to throw the basketball one more time, and to my disbelief it coasted right over that sign. I immediately turned and looked at my daddy for his approval, and I will never forget the celebration that happened in our front yard the first time the ball went over the sign. Dad gave me a high five, an encouraging “I knew you could do it!”, told me how proud he was of my hard work, and I ran inside for dinner that night feeling like I had just won a WNBA championship! My daddy has always been my biggest fan.
I had practiced and practiced my speech. My chest was all splotchy and I was so nervous—and he could tell. He encouraged me, told me to speak confidently into the microphone, and prayed with me for God to calm my nerves. As I stepped out onto the stage, he was in the center of the auditorium smiling and silently cheering me on. He was one of the few parents that showed up for the speeches, but he was there so I could speak directly to him and try to forget about the other people in the room. He had stayed up late with me the past few nights helping me write, edit, and practice my speech. And in that stuffy middle school auditorium, it was his presence that gave me the confidence to deliver it fearlessly. My daddy has always been present.
“Wow Buff, you look beautiful” he said as I stepped out of the Sunday-school room where all of my closest friends and family had gathered to help me get dressed for my wedding. As we slowly made our way to the foyer of the church, he pulled me aside and prayed for me, for that day, and for my marriage…like we were the only ones standing there. He told me again how beautiful I looked and how proud he was of me. Right before they opened the church doors, he leaned over and whispered, “It’s not too late to back out.” Ha! That’s my daddy, he’d support me even as a runaway bride! He knew that was exactly what I needed to unbuckle my knees and get rid of my nerves. My daddy has always been my example of love.
Through all of the scraped knees, the science projects, cheerleader competitions, and every hurdle I faced, he was always there on the sidelines cheering me on. During my darkest days, he encouraged me. With every break-up, he reminded me he loved me and that God was preparing the perfect man for me. He challenged me to set high goals and work toward them, but was satisfied with just that—my effort. Good grades were important, but all he wanted was for me to try my best. Through every success and every failure he was still proud of me, just because I am his daughter. My daddy has always been approachable.
The day our son was born, dad made sure they arrived at the hospital just moments after we did. With it being an adoption, no one was sure of how much access we would have and to be honest he was perfectly comfortable just sitting in the waiting room. The important thing to him was to be there to wait with us—because he knew that was what I needed. He was very guarded and uncomfortable sitting in the waiting area making small talk, and I expected that. You see my daddy was being a good father, preparing himself to be available no matter the outcome. A good father wants good things for his children, and knowing that there was a chance of celebration that morning, but also the same chance for heartbreak left my daddy very guarded—ready to adapt to my needs. When the birth mother invited my family into the room, I got to witness my daddy’s walls give way to unconditional love. I’ll never forget his face when he laid eyes on G for the very first time. Instantly, he fell in love and became “papa”—and in that moment I knew he had never been more proud of me. He was able to witness his daughter’s joy—which gave him joy. My daddy has always wanted the best for me.
A good father is their child’s biggest fan. A good father is always present. A good father accepts his responsibility to teach his child what love is—through his example. A good father is always approachable. A good father always wants the best for his child.
- offers unconditional love, even when we aren’t easy to love
- only asks for our effort—not perfection
- celebrates our wins with us, and encourages us in our losses
- acknowledges how proud he is of us
- finds joy in our happiness
- willing to walk alongside us during a period of waiting
- reminds us of his love and never withholds affection
- present emotionally and physically
In scripture God is the example given of a perfect father and He encompasses all of these traits. My father is not perfect, but I’ve never doubted his love for me. I’ve made some bad choices in my life that hurt and disappointed him, but my daddy loved me despite those things. He never made his love and acceptance conditional to my behavior, which meant he was always available.
Jesus loves you right where you are in this very moment, because you are His. Nothing you can do or achieve can make Him love or approve of you any more, and no bad choices or failure to achieve causes Him to love you any less—which means His love is always available to us.
Since our son was born I have had the privilege of watching my husband become a father. Even at only 5 months old, when G learns something new he waits for Chip’s reaction, and thrives on it. It’s so fun to watch him attempt to scoot on the floor and raise up and wait for Chip to say, “big boy” or “good job” before trying again—in the same way I immediately looked to my dad the first time I threw that ball over the sign. As James Dobson put it, “It’s important for a son to succeed, but it’s far more important for a father to see his son succeed.” Watching G with Chip has shown me just how reliant we are on our Father’s love and approval—we were created needing a father’s love, so that ultimately Jesus could meet that need. There are days when Chip comes home from work exhausted, changes multiple diapers, sings silly songs, bathes, and swaddles our son. If G is having a fussy spell Chip continues in the nightly routine, while trying to soothe him. Chip never refuses to sing, play, or bathe him based on G’s behavior—because his love is not conditional. I’m sure we will face many trying days as he grows into a man but my prayer is that he learns by his father’s example in the same way that I learned from my father’s example, that Jesus loves his children despite their behavior and never limits his availability based on who we are or what we’ve done. He loves because we are His, and because He is a good, good Father.
This Father’s Day, as we celebrate our earthly fathers let us be reminded of the One who provides the perfect example of what a father should be through His unconditional, unstoppable, unwavering love for His children.