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When Dad Got It Wrong. On Finding the Good. (From the archives)

Father’s Day is always interesting for me. So many feelings of joy as we celebrate my hubs and my step-dad. But, still a void where my dad used to fit. It also challenges me to embrace forgiveness while trying to remember the good times, even when the good time are a little hard to remember. This blog post came out of this same roller coaster ride that was Father’s Day week last year. Maybe it will encourage you if you or your kids are missing the dad who used to be a member of the family:

[From June 13 2013] – My dad left when I was 14. He’d been figuratively gone for years, but the literal leaving happened the day of my High School Orientation. (I still remember telling my Freshman friends who came to pick me up that he was going on a trip.) Add to that moment a mountain of other hurts and you have a wounded girl who became a wounded woman. Without a lot of counseling, a caring husband, and the love of my forever Father, I’d be lost. But, I can’t let it go there.

Yes, my dad caused a lot of pain. However, he’s part of who I am and there has to be some good there. I want to remember a few things my dad did that had a positive impact. Why? Because they exist. Because they’re a gift from the Giver of all good things. Because every parent needs to know they did something right. And every broken child needs to see the good in herself.

If Father’s Day is rough for you, maybe you’ll find some encouragement here…


When the job of waking the kids fell to Dad, he always had a peaceful way about him. In fact, the best memory I have of my father is of him quietly entering my room on school mornings, sitting on the edge of my bed, and rubbing the blanket where it covered my feet. Then he would whisper something like, “It’s Wednesday, only two more days after today and the weekend will be here!” He’d stay for just a moment, but it was a really nice way to wake up. It made me feel special. Loved. These memories remind me to start my own daughter’s day with a soft voice and a gentle touch.


Dad was Sheriff of our county and there were a few perks that came with that role for us kids. (Downsides too, but we’re focusing on the good here.) My brothers and I didn’t have to pay to get into the County Fair. We got to ride in an squad car, which our friends thought was cool even if it meant we never got to talk. And, we got Sheriff Burgers. I don’t remember what was so special about Sheriff Burgers, but I do remember Dad saying he was making them and they sounded awesome. I’m pretty sure he just added Lipton Soup mix, but the memory’s in the name. Today, Jeremy and I make a big deal out of telling Alyssa she’s part of Team Tracey. Someday this might elicit endless eye-rolls, but for now she’s all about it. It gives her a sense of belonging. We also break out the Celebrate Plate for things that are huge to a soon-to-be second grader, like losing a tooth or the first day of school. My dad helped me see the importance of those “family only” activities.


As God has helped me work through childhood wounds, He’s opened my eyes to this reality: If I hadn’t had the dad I had, I might never have found compassion for him. At some point in my early 30’s, I started to see that my father didn’t set out to be unkind or negligent. His parental flaws stemmed from his own childhood wounds. His little-boy heart had grown into a man-heart in need of healing. Does it excuse the painful words and actions? No. It does help me open my heart just a little to a man who’s seen some of the consequences of his choices. One who hopes to be a part of his kids’ lives, even if it’s a position undeserved. And this is a perspective I hope to pass on to the heart of a little girl I have the great responsibility to lead into a life lived for a compassionate Savior.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~ James 1:2-4 (NIV)