My Mom tells me that when she was pregnant with me, my Daddy desperately wanted a girl from day one. She originally wanted a boy, but seeing how much my Dad hoped for a little girl made her hope for one too. I like to remind them that I fulfilled all of their pink tinted dreams simply by being born.
My Dad has long been the man I’ve looked up to the most in the world. I didn’t understand what a precious gift that was until high school, when I came to the startling realization that not every little girl grew up wanting to marry somebody like her Daddy. I watched friends reel with the sting of being overlooked and hurt by their Dads, and something in me just couldn’t understand it. Where other girls looked at their Dads and only saw pain, all I could ever see when I looked at mine were a thousand burned and rather salty chocolate chip cookies that he choked down over lemon-water tea parties with a smile. I saw a man who was reading his Bible when I woke up every morning. A man who determined when I was a very little girl that he would buy me more flowers than any other man on the planet—and thus far, no contender has even come CLOSE. I have an overflowing stack of dried flowers from my Dad sitting on top of a dresser in my old room, and the first time Kellan saw them he was so disheartened that he didn’t buy me so much as a carnation for a solid year. [He’s rallied.]
As the years spun on, I looked at my Dad and saw a man who would take me out for overpriced lattes and let me rant or cry or float about whatever it was that was stirring the still waters of my world. I saw a man who would patiently, wisely counsel me when I had questions or was hurting. I saw a man who encouraged me to hop a plane to West Africa for two years, not because it was safe or he wanted me gone, but because he fervently believed that Jesus was better than being comfortable. It was a lesson I’d learned simply from observing his life over the course of mine. I looked at my Dad, and I saw a hero. Not perfect, but perfect to be mine.
The past year has revealed new things about my Dad. I look at him today, and see a man who fitfully slept in an uncomfortable recliner by his son’s hospital bed every single night that Ian was there so he would never be alone. [And over the course of a five month bout with cancer, there were many.] A man who would switch off with my Mom during the day and instead of running home to sleep in an actual bed, would go to work or take my little sister Emily to ballet. I remember during the last week of Ian’s final three week stay in the ICU, I walked into my parent’s house one morning and saw my Dad sitting at the living room table. He hadn’t really slept in weeks, and in fact had barely left the ICU at all. Confused as to why he wasn’t taking a nap or at least eating a meal that hadn’t come wrapped in paper, I asked him what he was doing.
He was working on his sermon for my wedding. Honey, I really enjoy this. I’m really excited about your wedding! He said it with a smile.
It was the same man that left the hospital just long enough to buy me a bouquet of roses on Valentine’s day. The same man that insisted that we practice our waltz over and over again in the kitchen even though he was unspeakably exhausted, and the world outside of our front door was crumbling into a thousand irretrievable pieces. Our waltz was still important to him because I never stopped being important to him.
That’s just my Dad. I look at him today and see a man that confidently, brokenly, humbly reminded me in the whitewashed hallway outside of room 17 in the ICU that if God chose not to heal Ian, it would not be because He didn’t love us or hadn’t heard us. I knew that he meant it because he had spent his life teaching me that God is a good Father. It was a lesson that I never found hard to believe, because I already had one.
To you Daddies out there—especially y’all with little girls—buy her flowers. Buy her so many flowers that no other man will ever be able to compete. They are expensive and unnecessary and will die in a week and that is the extravagant, irrational point. It is through your extravagant, irrational love that she will begin to understand the way that Jesus loves her. Eat everything that she proudly hands you as she’s learning to bake, and every once in a while ask for seconds. Wear the feather boa AND the floppy hat, and cheers her stuffed bunny rabbit when she invites you to tea. Tell her that she looks just beautiful every single morning. Let her see you read your Bible, but more importantly, let her see you value the God that gave it to you. Value that God above all of his gifts—above her Mother, above a comfortable life, above keeping her safe. Push her to follow Jesus wherever He leads. Remind her that God is good no matter what it feels like—whether a boy hurts her feelings or her little brother is dying. God longs for your daughter to know how He treasures and adores her through you.
And if you have questions about any of this, feel free to give my Daddy a call. He’s pretty great at it.
Happy Father’s day to the greatest one that I have ever known! I love you, Daddy.