By Laura Albano Hoffpauir
When I count my blessings, my parents are way up there on the list. Of course I wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for them, but they continue to bless me constantly with their love, affection, and care for me. They cherish me, nourish me, encourage me, and support me in so many ways.
In this month of June and Father’s Day, I’m always especially thankful for my dad’s profound love for me throughout my life. Jesus tells us we should relate to God as a loving father. I’m not sure I would fully understand that if it weren’t for my dad.
My dad provided everything I needed as a child. In addition to the material needs of food and shelter, he made sure the educational, emotional, and spiritual needs of his family were met. He taught me skills by helping me with things like building a lamp for my 4-H electricity project and by having me help him with projects like building a wall to partition the garage to make an extra bedroom. He taught me the value of family and faith and personal integrity through his words and his example. His love and attention and his pride in me instilled a strong sense of self worth. His willingness to go back out and buy me ice cream just because I asked him to in spite of his being tired from a long day at work made me feel highly valued. He encouraged me in my handicrafts, not only by his verbal expression of his appreciation for my ceramic, macramé, Mod Podge, felt, and other projects, but in ways like selling my handcrafted eggshell Christmas ornaments to his coworkers and giving some of my craft items as gifts. His provision for and protection of our family made me feel safe and secure.
This kind of upbringing makes it easy for me to relate to God as a loving father. I know what it is to be cherished. I know what it is to be able to trust. I know what it is to obey, not out of fear, but out of love.
We do have to remember that our fathers are only human. I clearly remember when I first realized that. I used to think my dad could fix anything. He’s extremely smart and mechanically minded, and he’s a great problem solver, but in my young mind it was like a superpower. An epiphany occurred for me when my Talking Ken doll’s pull-string got stuck and my dad tried to fix it. From that point on, Ken sounded like a turkey gobble because the string went too fast. That was the moment I realized my dad couldn’t fix everything. I began to see him as a human being. It made me realize that we have to forgive our fathers for their faults and failures and that we shouldn’t hold them up to unreasonable standards.
I recognize that my experience isn’t shared by everyone. Many people have very strained relationships with their fathers. Some reject good and loving fathers because they don’t want to accept their appropriate correction and guidance. Others have fathers that are too self-centered to meet their children’s most basic needs. Some have fathers who are unable to overcome their addictions or suffer from serious mental illness. Some were abandoned or abused by their fathers. Some never had the chance to know their fathers.
I have often wondered why I was given the special gift of my particular dad and my particular experience of a father-daughter relationship. In the past I have even felt some guilt about this privilege, something akin to a “survivor’s guilt” I guess. But I have come to realize that this is the kind of love we are all called to. My dad understands the role of fatherhood, and he strives to be the best dad he can be. That others don’t live up to this calling only makes me appreciate him more.
I realize too how my close relationship with my dad helped me to find the right husband. I knew I was looking for a man who would be a good father to our children. I didn’t have a checklist in my head, but in my heart I instinctively recognized and was drawn to the qualities that make for a great dad.
I thank God for giving me my dad, and I thank my dad for leading me to God. I hope and pray that I will always be a loving, appreciative, trusting, faithful daughter to them both.
Laura Hoffpauir is passionate about learning and teaching. She has homeschooled her 6 children, taught small classes in homeschooling co-ops, and continues to provide tutoring services. She also enjoys crochet, crafts, birdwatching, word games, and live music of all kinds, from her daughters’ church choirs to her husband and son’s rock cover band, The Lakeshore Drivers.