Thursday, June 16, 2011


Today, I volunteered in my son's Kindergarten classroom for the last time. I was happy to be stationed at the art center helping the groups of children, as they rotated one station to the next, decorate blue construction paper dress shirts for their dads. Some of them weren't so engaged in the project and were a little squirrely. My excellent-with-children skills (ha) told me I needed to motivate some of the boys to focus by getting them to talk about their dads. This poorly thought-out strategy went fine, until I used it on Josh simply to manipulate him into working.

I said, "Josh, how about sitting in your seat and working on your card? Do you have a special dad, Josh?" I swear I wanted to swallow back the words as soon as I said them, because I knew realistically - statistically - the answer could have been "no." Josh said, "My dad's in jail. Want to know why? Because..." and then he mumbled something about a fight. "But that was just the first time." Josh continued, "The second time was because he missed his meeting with his doctor. I mean his cop," and he smiled and blushed at his mistake.

This horrific conversation got worse because I'm kind of an idiot and should just shut up already. Instead, I said, "Do you have a grandpa you could give your card to?" Josh answered flatly, "He's dead." Just as I was about to flush with embarrassment at how badly I was handling this scene at the art table, Josh perked up with an idea. "I know! I'll just put this in the mail to my dad in jail!" "Yes, great idea Josh," I confirmed, faking cheerful. "Great solution."

I thought about this sweet little boy with a round face and big, eager eyes all day. He had told me he knew how to tie his shoes, the ones with dragging laces. But he didn't. He told me he knew how to whistle, and demonstrated it proudly. And, in so many words, he told me he has no father to look into those eyes with love and encouragement and strength. None to teach him how to tie dragging shoe laces. None to cheer at his whistle. In so many words, he told me he needed to be fathered.

Some of us were not fathered well. That's the world we live in, and that sort of pain exists beneath the facade of many, many people. Men and women. With Father's Day on the horizon, I have one thought about that. None of us had a perfect dad, and therefore each of us needs some re-fathering.

Good thing there exists one perfect Father. We all have a desperate need to feel unconditionally loved, provided for, protected, and guided. And God is so very eager to fill those shoes. He wants to make us His children and re-father us in every area of hurt, every single corner of our hearts where our earthly fathers failed to meet our needs. For some of us, those areas have sustained deep wounds. For others, the damage is less severe. But again, we've all suffered some level of hurt.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father." For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:14-16 

Abba in Greek is the equivalent of Daddy. Do you know that God longs to be your Daddy, the one you never quite had, but always wished for? It was Him, all along. He was waiting to fill that void. And if you don't yet know Him as that Father, He's still waiting. I'm not sure we can allow Him to re-father us until we acknowledge how our earthly fathers failed us. He wants to re-father you. Invite Him to re-father you. Because believe it or not, He wanted to adopt you the minute he began creating you in your mama's womb. He is a Father who knows where you came from, and knows exactly who you were designed to be. He is re-fathering me in all those broken corners of my heart, little by little, showing me more every day just how much I am His beloved daughter.

I still have a lot to learn from my Heavenly Father. And He has a lot more to teach.

So much more than how to tie my shoes.


For more reading on how God longs to father us, this book makes for an amazing gift for the man in your life, whether your father, brother, husband or friend. It is a valuable gift for any man with "father" issues (which is all of them.)

For women, I read this book in Bible study a few years back. It was excellent for walking through the ways we expect God to love as our earthly fathers did. It helps explore hurts endured and walks through healing truths about who we are as daughters of God.


  1. Lovely, Leslie. There are so many fatherless children (and adults) out there. It just breaks my heart when I look at my Jude to think that some children don't have someone to look at them in that special way. What would we do without our Abba?

  2. you are so lovely. i jave goosebumps for so many reasons. love you

  3. Oh this made me so sad. I work with fatherless kids all the time in kids church. Some of them are so unloved it just breaks my heart. As we are apporaching Fathers Day we had a mini meeting about being cautious about the whole Father issue. You see, Wed. night the kids made a fathers day craft. So we had to make sure all the teachers were conscious that some of these kids dont have fathers. Or have fathers in jail,etc...
    Its pure fact that many people struggle with seeing God the Father as a "loving daddy" because they never had that in an earthly father. And it can be a real struggle to get past the hurts or even emptiness from a father here on earth. Thats why I love what you said here. It IS possible. And He longs to comfort us in that fatherly way.
    Love you!

  4. I'll tell you, I never cease to be grateful for the amazing earthly father that God gave me. He's the strongest, most godly man I know. His faith and good life have taught me more than anyone else in the whole world. I'm so grateful that I can understand how much more God loves me because I understand so well the love of my earthly dad.

  5. Anything by Brennan Manning is an amazing read and fits into the abba type love category.