by Kathy Penrod

I think I was ten. I had awakened from a nightmare with hot tears running down my face. My mom was out of town but that didn’t keep my feet from running down the hall to my parent’s bedroom. I knew my dad was there. Literally jumping into his bed, I curled against his awakening body and instantly I felt peace. I felt safe. Dad listened to my frightening dream, soothed me with parental words of wisdom and we both fell back to sleep, me in the arms of my father.

 It was such a simple moment; nothing out of the ordinary. I don’t even remember what he said. But I will never forget that feeling of safety, of peace, that my daddy gave me. Though that was 34 years ago, I still remember that quiet feeling.

 As I got older, I quickly learned that not everyone had a dad like mine. My heart broke as I listened to my friends speak of hiding from angry paternal rages under their bed or of not knowing their father at all. I have cried with my friends as they express a desire to only be a small part of their father’s life, knowing that will never happen. Not everyone feels safe and not everyone feels peace when they are with their father.

 One young friend, when we spoke of what fathers are and should be, she explained she never has had that ideal, nor would she ever see that in her father. In some ways, she may be right. Perhaps her earthly father will never provide the loving example she needs. Perhaps her earthly father could never make her feel safe. That is the unfortunate reality for too many people.

 But there is also another reality. That reality is that we all have a perfect Father. We may not see him physically. We may not be able to run and jump into his bed when we are scared at night. But the truth is, He is always there with his arms outstretched. He has taught us how we should live and He has provided the example to all men of how to be a good father.

 I have to believe that most fathers want to do their best, be their best for their children. Imagine the heavy burden it is to know that little mouths depend on your daily work to live, to maintain a good quality of life. Dads not only have to provide for the needs of a family, they also need to provide for some of their wants. I am not talking about fancy vacations or designer jeans but maybe a tricycle for the 3 year old or a trampoline for the whole family.

 Good fathers want to give what they can to their family. They want them to be comfortable. So, instead of staying home, they go off to work. Every day. Some fathers have to work multiple jobs or awkward hours, just to keep food on the table.

 To the fathers that give all they have, I say you are doing what our Heavenly Father has always done for us.  For fathers who teach their children integrity, I say thank you, for your children will be among those who pave a positive future for society. For those fathers who dance with their little girls and play ball with their boys, I say, they will never forget it. For fathers who make their family feel safe, I give you my adoration, as your home will be one of the few safe places left in our fallen world. For the dads who weep with their children during times of trial, I give you my respect for showing your children that real men truly feel. For all you fathers who keep trying to be better, keep trying to provide, keep trying to have hope, I wish peace for you along this journey of parenthood. God will not forget how you have tried to do your best.

 For my own father, I express the deepest gratitude, for teaching me through his example, of what Heaven is like. To my dear husband, I express my deepest feelings of love. As young teenagers, I saw him interact with children and knew then he would be a tender father. For our 5 children, he has been the best father they could ever hope for. He has shown our boys the kind of man to be and has taught our daughter the kind of man she should marry.

 If your current situation isn’t ideal, I plead with you to remember that we all have the perfect example of Fatherhood in our Heavenly Father. He will teach all of us the way we should be and will love us infinitely.

Our Heavenly Father desires us to return to Him. As any good Father would, He has provided us road maps for our arduous journey. Just as any good father would do, He offers us love and direction when needed. He is constantly there to soothe our anxieties and silence our fears.  We only have to run to Him.  He will welcome us, just as any good father, with open arms.

 More on this topic:
The Family: A Proclamation to the World