All of us have a story, I am no different and neither is my father. As I reflect on this Father's Day, I can't help but think about my own father. In his nearly 70 years, he has been through an awful lot. While he is human and has made his share of mistakes, I am so grateful for what he and my mom taught me and how they raised me. I am the man that I am today because of the sacrifices that my parents made for me and on this Father's Day, I am grateful for my father, Tony Gibson.
My father grew up in Brooklyn in the 1950's and when he was a teenager, his father left due to alcoholism. That event played such a significant event in his life that he eventually committed his life to ministry and focused on helping others who were impacted by addiction. He used his own experience to help others.
When I was young, I would stand at the door of the church after the Sunday morning church service, right next to Dad, shaking people's hands as they walked out. More than one person joked about me being the "little pastor." Turns out that they were more right than they probably realized. Although I fought hard against the call of God on my life, I eventually conceded to the fact that this was what I was made for, just like my father before me.
The church wasn't always a kind place to my dad. He experienced more than a little bit of heartache through the years at the hands of well-meaning people within the church. Yet he always continued to give and serve, seeing the best in people when nobody else was willing to do so. He showed grace to those who many had given up on. When he retired, he left a trail of lives that had been touched and changed because of the impact and influence that he had had on them.
That retirement came in November 2010 for him and my mom, and in a matter of months, they were handed more change than even change junkies might be able to handle. Dad lost his church, his career, his home, and his health. Mom had had health issues over the years but it was topped off in January 2011 with the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Eventually, Mom lost her battle with cancer and Dad lost her too. All the plans that they had made of retiring and spending time with their grandchildren were but a mist, disappearing into the clouds of a new day.
Despite all that he went through, I still think Dad did the best that he could. I know that he is far from perfect. He didn't always excel as a father, a husband, and a pastor, but he did his best. The problem with our culture and society is that people aren't judged for how they do with what they have been given, they're judged in comparison to everyone else. A lot of people are going to fall pretty short when that kind of comparison happens. Dad has done the best with what he's been given, which hasn't always been a lot along the way.
I have nothing but love for my father. He has left a legacy that he can see in his grandchildren. They love him and I love him. There are plenty of people in this world who haven't been blessed with good fathers, I am thankful for the gift of a father that I have been given.
I don't know what kind of father you have or had. Maybe you were as blessed as I have been, or maybe not. I know that I have another Father who is perfect, who never fails. He's the same Father that my dad has as well. He's always there, always listening, and always forgiving. Any time that I try to compare myself with someone, I remind myself that I will always fall short in comparison to the greatest Father of all time.
On this Father's Day, take time to remember your dad. If he's still alive, give him a call and let him know how much you love him. Thank him. If things haven't been good between you, take the time to look for restitution and redemption. I have learned a lot from my dad and I have done what I can to pass those things on to my kids. I've done my best to learn from successes and failures, because when we don't learn from failures, we may be destined to repeat them.
I am a grateful son and an adequate father. My hope and prayer is that my children know that I love them and would do anything for them. I hope and pray that they might see beyond me and my failures to another Father who will not disappoint them the way that I inevitably will. I hope and pray that they can pass on the good things that I've taught them and learn from my mistakes, so that they too can invest in and love their own kids.
Fatherhood is not for the easily wearied, it's not an easy road. I am so thankful today for my father. I love you, Dad.