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Father’s Day

In the weeks preceding Father’s Day a blizzard of advertising offers the perfect gift for dad. I tell my grown-up children I don’t need or want a gift, without success. It’s flattering they want to do it though. Makes me feel maybe I wasn’t too bad a father after all.

Our Church anticipates the day with one or two short video messages, encouraging fathers to focus on family. This year’s can be seen here:

and here:

But many 60 second TV Ads can be seen here:

These videos show dads in action. Playing with the kids, taking them places, comforting with wise words, taking to Church, home early with tickets for a big game, loving their mother. After viewing some, I begin to feel a bit of a failure. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said “In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home.” Did I spend enough time with my family? I hope so, but it’s hard to tell. I did my best, certainly wasn’t perfect, but I tried hard. Each week, as a very young stake president, I calendared four nights for family and three nights for Church work, and usually managed it.

Those videos show the ideal. The perfect dad, with the skills, time and energy. So, for all the dads out there, don’t be too hard on yourselves in comparison, but it’s an ideal to work for. An interesting thought occurs to me though. We have a Father in Heaven, and he is a perfect father. He loves us. His whole purpose is to give us joy. He created this world for us. He gave us mortal life. Like the dads in the videos, he spends time with us—as much as we need. Somehow, while managing the Universe, he makes time for his children. He speaks wise words to us but sometimes we don’t respond, which makes him sad. He sent his firstborn, Jesus Christ, on a rescue mission. Like his Father, Jesus sacrificed all he had, including his life, but many rejected him. We might take time on Father’s Day to speak with our Heavenly Father, thank him for his love, and for our elder brother, Jesus Christ. They will be pleased with this small token of appreciation. The great Elohim, the creator of the universe, is a dad, and of his many titles, the one he prefers most is “Father”.

Father’s Day is not joyful for everyone. Not all dads try hard enough or long enough. Some children respond badly, no matter how hard their dad tries. Love withers, sometimes relationships break. Some desperately want children but never get any. Children may die leaving parents devastated. Some fathers die too soon. For these reasons and more, Father’s Day can be lonely or painful for some. My heart goes out to them. Words can seem superficial, but I’ll risk it with the following extract from a story told by Elder Uchtdorf. It concerns a teenager, Eva who is unwillingly lodged with Great-Aunt Rose, whom she barely knows, during a family crisis.

Aunt Rose nodded. “There were so many things I wished for in my life.” As she spoke, a sadness entered her voice that Eva had never heard before. “Most of them never happened. It was one heartbreak after another. One day I realized that it would never be the way I had hoped for. That was a depressing day. I was ready to give up and be miserable.”

“So what did you do?”

“Nothing for a time. I was just angry. I was an absolute monster to be around.” Then she laughed a little, but it was not her usual big, room-filling laugh. “‘It’s not fair’ was the song I sang over and over in my head. But eventually I discovered something that turned my whole life around.”

“What was it?”

“Faith,” Aunt Rose smiled. “I discovered faith. And faith led to hope. And faith and hope gave me confidence that one day everything would make sense, that because of the Savior, all the wrongs would be made right. After that, I saw that the path before me wasn’t as dreary and dusty as I had thought. I began to notice the bright blues, the verdant greens, and the fiery reds, and I decided I had a choice—I could hang my head and drag my feet on the dusty road of self-pity, or I could have a little faith, put on a bright dress, slip on my dancing shoes, and skip down the path of life, singing as I went.” Now her voice was skipping along like the girl in the painting. (The much longer story is found in Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “A Summer With Great-Aunt Rose”, October 2015 General Conference)

Certainly not superficial for me. To an extent, we all experience deep disappointment, even pain. We’re tested in different ways. For the many ordinary dads who do the best they can, enjoy the day! I hope you will be coddled, loved and spoilt a little. Most of all: keep trying!


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