Everybody has a father. No, not God. We won’t know the answer to that without a personal meeting, which may not happen, according to some theologies, until after we shuffle off this mortal coil.
Meanwhile, we who dwell on this planet, in this life form, need to acknowledge everybody has a father.
They come in various sizes, shapes, ages, levels of wisdom and genders, our fathers. And our relationships are not necessarily biological. With our fathers, that is.
But everybody has one: a father.
Maybe it is someone who was there for you, maybe when your biological father wasn’t. Or couldn’t. But they were, and they made a difference. Maybe it was all your life, or maybe just one single solitary time. Because they were your father, it doesn’t matter.
It’s time to thank them. Here’s how.
Remember all those times you failed. Especially those times when your failure was intentional. When you could have, should have, and didn’t. Maybe even, if you’re a normal person (and parent), when you knew you more than missed the mark with one of your own.
Then, remember how hard it was to repair the damage you’d done. Or, maybe you couldn’t, and it still exists today.
Once you’ve gotten past that pain, think of what you’d give to fix things.
Then, thank your father. For being all the things you have been unable to be. Tell them they set a mark you’ll never be able to reach. Even so, promise you’ll try.
Tell them, if they’re still around.
If not, tell others. And tell God.
Say their name. Tell anyone who ever knew them. Tell everyone who’ll never know them. Most important, tell those you love the most.
Tell all of them how much you learned from your father. Admit to all of them you’ll never measure up. Mean it.
After that, hold them close. Tell them you love them. Tell them you can’t change the past. Tell them how imperfect you are. Tell them you have regrets. Tell them they will too, someday.
Most important, don’t ask forgiveness. It’s not theirs to give.
If you’ve done it right, if you’ve meant what you’ve just said and done, they’ll believe you. And, in time, they’ll forgive you.
Maybe not right away. Maybe not even while you’re still here. But someday. And when they do, they’ll value what you have given them all the more.
Meanwhile, don’t let go. Follow up. Let your loved ones know how important it is to value honesty, decency, civility, charity, kindness and love. And to live those principles.
Remember: If the fortune you leave has a dollar sign wrapped around it, you won’t be leaving much. But a legacy anchored in love? That’s forever. Just like being somebody’s father.
Happy Father’s Day.
The Rev. Dr. Robert Sichta, Congregational United Church of Christ, 3700 26th St. W., Bradenton, can be reached by calling 941-756-1018 or e-mailing PBKAlpha1@gmail.com. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Bradenton Herald, written by local clergy members.