Monday, June 21, 2010

The Dad He Didn't Have to Be

Brad Paisley sings a beautiful song called "He didn't have to be". The refrain is Lookin' back all I can say
about all the things he did for me. Is I hope I'm at least half the dad that he didn't have to be.

I heard this song not long after I discovered that my very own dad did not 'have to be' the dad he was to me. In a traumatic time when everything I knew to be true about my life seemed untrue, I was comforted by one thing- that sweet Pat Sullivan chose to be my father. He picked me, decided to love me, and became my daddy before I was born. I will always be in awe of the choice he made at such a young, tender age of 21. He found a girl who was going to have a baby and he let his heart fall in love with both of them, against all better judgement I'm sure. And this father's day, I am thankful, not just for him, but for the other dad's who "didn't have to be."

I am thankful for my Uncle Philip, who chose to follow his heart and his wife's heart and God's call to the Ukraine and bring home a little girl whose smile lights up the sky. He did not have to be her daddy- but he chose her. And she is so, so lucky.

I am thankful for our spiritual fathers, our priests and ministers who guide us to our heavenly Father. I am especially thankful for Fr. Tim, who, in both the darkest and brightest moments of my life, has been a reminder of Christ's love, protection and forgiveness. He emits God's love, everyday, in so many ways and this 'daughter' is so thankful.

I am thankful for my father-in-law. He could have chosen to simply be 'an in-law' to me, a part of my extended family. But from the moment he hugged me first, he treated me like a daughter. He teased me like a daughter, nurtured me like a daughter and loved me like a daughter. He didn't have to be a father to me, but he is. And I am thankful.

I am thankful for the father that my husband already is. At night, when we pray, he often speaks near my stomach and I am not kidding you that this babe moves already to the sound of his/her daddy's prayers. I am thankful that he is a daddy who prays. I am thankful also that he is a daddy who cooks and cleans. But mostly I am thankful that he is a daddy who loves his child and his child's mama so well.

And finally, I am thankful for the ultimate dad 'who didn't have to be.' Because, see, Jesus did not have to be our heavenly dad. He did not have to endure condemnation and hatred and torture for us. But He chose to. Because He LOVES us. And to this day, he suffers the same way our dads do. Like them, he watches us make bone-head mistakes. He watches us hurt and suffer. He suffers with us, hurting along side us. Like our earthly dads do too, He rejoices with us in our happiness and prays for our peace and joy.

None of the dads above "had" to be a dad. Sadly, we all know men who could not or would not accept their role as a father. We all know people who have wounds from their earthly dads, pains inflicted upon them from neglect or indifference or abuse or apathy or rejection. But after a sweet father's day weekend, I can see the fathers in my life and be so, so thankful for being the dads 'they didn't have to be.'


  1. Oh goodness, I am boohoo'ing all over the place. Great post....and I know Ross is going to be an absolute amazing daddy!

  2. great reminder and a sweet outlook on dads.

  3. Y'all are going to make great parents - especially since you and your hubs have such outstanding parents!