We have history, you and me. Like the time you made that multi-colored Styrofoam tower with me and it reached clear up to the ceiling. Even you needed a chair to place that last block, though in my mind you could touch the clouds without one.
That’s what five year-old girls think of their daddies.
And then I grew taller.
I realized you weren’t so towering or so powerful. I started seeing your flaws and my image of you crashed. You became human.
But I didn’t want human. I wanted powerful. I wanted perfect. I wanted Superman.
Because little girls need to know they are perfectly loved. We need to know we can lean in and on and trust all the tender parts of us to someone.
What happened to your cape and your ability to fly? You were permanently grounded, in my mind, stripped of your super-human capabilities. I saw your flaws.
Problem is, Dad, some of your imperfect hurt me. I need not name for others to see. Bottom line is, I was hurt by your wounds which I couldn’t see. We humans can’t help but do some of that.
I never knew back then that parents are wounded—that parents still have little girls and little boys inside of them—that they carry those little ones with them all through their lives, trying hard to keep them hidden—to keep them quiet—and that those little ones still cry sometimes, hoping for someone to hear them and hold them.
I never knew.
Back then, I wanted strong. And my towering father fell in my mind.
So I went looking.
I went looking for a new dad—a better dad—a perfect dad.
And I found him.
I found the one I somehow believed was out there, somewhere, ready and wanting to give me all I ever dreamed of in a dad.
And guess what?
He sent me back to you and told me to love you even though I had no clue how to do such a thing. Wasn’t sure I even wanted to. But I went. And I tried. And he helped me.
I began to appreciate your humanness—all your imperfections. Because my new dad saw all my flaws—and loved me anyway—smiled on me anyway—thought I was beautiful anyway.
Remember those warts cut out of my feet when I was 12 and the fuzzy pink slippers you bought me to wear to school because my feet were so swollen and hurting? The slippers are long gone but those callouses? They’re still on my heels that have walked nearly 56 years. They still hurt sometimes. So I just gently rub them and the pain of old wounds subsides. Soon, I start walking again, relieved.
I’m thankful for my feet, calloused and all.
I’m thankful for you, Dad, wrinkled and all.
Because, after all, who’s perfect? We all have our warts, our wrinkles, our wounds, and our calloused that needs a gentle rub, a softening. My new dad taught me that.
And my new dad has been healing my hurts no one else sees. Not even you, Dad. He’s been healing me so he can heal others. Because we’re all walking wounded, aren’t we Dad? We can all use the smallest rub of love, can’t we Dad?
I hope you know I love you, Dad. I hope you know I’m thankful for all the things you’ve done, even the painful. Because our Dad has used all for good, really. He can do that. He’s the real Superman—the one with the cross, not the cape.
Isn’t our Dad wonderful, Dad? Isn’t He simply divine?
Oh, how He loves you and me, Dad.
Oh, how He loves you.
And me . . .
So grateful for you, Dad.
So grateful our Dad gave me you as my father—such an imperfect, perfectly human, perfectly lovable dad.
With thanks—for everything—the whole mix of mixed-up everything.
Happy Father’s Day!
From your daughter who’ll love you forever,
I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he . . . Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? . . . See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. Deuteronomy 32:3-4, 6, 39
Photograph of Antelope Canyon courtesy of James Caley MacLaren, my very talented dad.