It wasn’t a question. It was a pleading declaration from my wife to mend the years of brokenness, resentment and shame that defined my relationship with my father.
My beautiful wife Maria and I were just newly married at the time and were starting to talk about starting a family. While it was easier to distance myself from my father and not deal with the years of pain, I knew Maria was right.
I grew up barely seeing my dad. He worked third shift and put in more than 70 hours a week. While he was absent most of my childhood, my mom started struggling with alcohol—which caused him to come home angry. I could cut the tension in the house with a knife.
Since he wasn’t around, he put a lot of pressure on me to take care of the house and my mother. I learned how to be a father figure to my younger sister.
My dad was the epitome of tough love. His favorite line was, “Get some grit.”
The way I viewed my father as a kid—judgmental, disappointed, absent—carried into my adulthood in how I viewed God. I pictured God up there looking down at me with those disappointed eyes saying, “Jeremiah, figure it out, dude.”
Winning people over, achieving, and striving to be happy defined my early 20s. Gosh, I was lonely. I never had enough.
This isn’t how the story ends
About 10 years ago when our oldest Caleb was 4 years old, my father was visiting during the most epic meltdown.
“You need to get control of that kid,” my dad said.
I blew up. Are you kidding me? He had no right! At least I was present for my son. I was doing the best I could.
After a screaming match, we both surrendered. I ugly cried.
It was that moment that God revealed to me the pain and weight I had been carrying that needed to be released. I heard Maria’s words again, “You need to deal with your relationship with your dad,” that I failed miserably to do years prior.
It was in that moment of finally dealing with the emotions and getting real with my dad I realized that all along he was loving me the best he could in the brokenness and dysfunction. Jesus met me in that moment.
That moment changed who I am as a father.
10 years later, I talk to my dad every day. Jesus truly worked a miracle on a relationship I never knew could be restored.
I’m grateful for my journey to finding true healing with my father. It’s taught me so many things and has made me a better father to my kids. I can’t perform my way into being a good dad. It takes modeling the person of Jesus and fully surrendering.
That mentality has brought me to a beautiful new journey in fatherhood.
Sweet baby girl
We always wanted a little girl. While I’m sure we have an angel girl baby up in heaven, God gave us three healthy, thriving boys here on earth.
Our little girl came to us about nine months ago as a vulnerable one-year-old with a small bag of clothes and nothing else. She was our first foster baby, and within a couple of days I felt a deep love for her.
One night up rocking her to sleep I realized how alone she was. It wasn’t unlike how I felt at times as a kid.
But then I was reminded of the heart of Jesus. She isn’t alone and will never be alone. Everyone belongs.
This was my opportunity to share that spirit of belonging and love that Jesus always covered me in when I needed it the most. We had her for over nine months, and she recently had a chance to go with reunited with her little brother.
But our foster journey isn’t over. Her new baby sister is six weeks old and has been placed in our home. Here I am, holding her in my arms, realizing these sweet girls are the best gifts I have been given as a father.
I don’t know if I could have this outpouring of love if I didn’t finally accept love from my heavenly and earthly father.
This Father’s Day, I challenge you to surrender any broken relationships to God. Whether that’s with your own father or another relationship in your life. You never know what adventures will come if you let forgiveness overflow of your heart. This Father’s Day, I choose to forgive again and again. My kids will fail me, my wife will fail me, my dad will fail me, but my Heavenly Father never will.