What a way to start my Father’s Day.

I mean, I can think of worse ways. Balloons could have gotten caught in the ceiling fan above my bed and mimicked the sounds of machine guns as they whirled around wildly. However, I can’t say that this text lay too far ahead in the lineup.

As I rolled over to silence my alarm, I glanced at my new messages. A text on my phone. From my dad.

I didn’t read it right away. For one, my eyes weren’t awake enough to function. And secondly, I didn’t want to wake up depressed.

Why the heck is my father texting me this early in the morning? Doesn’t he ever sleep?

As I got up, I grabbed my phone, still ignoring the text. I woke up my wife and reminded her that we had five minutes to get out the door and get to church. We got our daughter up and going, piled into the car, and barreled our way to church, arriving only a few minutes late.

My father’s Father’s Day text message sat on my phone the entire time, still waiting to be read.

I got into my area for the weekend services and waited for our pre-service meeting. I pulled out my phone and simply stared at it.

On this phone is a message — one that could potentially ruin my Father’s Day.

Sadly, the idea that a text from my father could make my Father’s Day better didn’t even cross my mind. Unfortunately, a text from my dad doesn’t have the ability to make my day better.

As I waited for my meeting, I decided to get it over with. It would have to be done eventually. I opened my messages and clicked on the mystery text:

Happy Father’s Day. Praying for you! I always enjoy our fellowship.

That was it. I reread the message a few times. And then, a smile crept over my face.

Mind you, I didn’t smile because my dad had wished me a happy Father’s Day. Nor because I’d rejoiced over his prayers. And I did not think how much I’d enjoyed his fellowship.

I smiled because my father’s text didn’t hurt me.

My dad and I have talked in person a total of three times in the past year; if you include phone calls, the number goes up to five. This “fellowship” he enjoys is akin to my wishing a Facebook friend happy birthday once a year.

But it didn’t matter. My dad’s message didn’t have a negative effect on me.

For years, I have carried the burden of Father’s Day as a painful holiday. Countless friends post about their amazing fathers and share endless pictures of their living dads being the best dads ever.

Fellow fathers share how their dads modeled fatherhood for them. They only wish they could be “half the father” their father was to them.

Each and every Father’s Day post rips at my heart and spirit, leaving me broken by the end of day. Then, after all of that, I’d still have to find a way to lovingly yet honestly wish my own dad a happy Father’s Day.

I can’t say my dad modeled fatherhood well for me. Or that my dad was my best friend. Or that I’ve never doubted my dad’s love.

The best I could offer was that my dad was my dad.

But this year, something was different. This year, I didn’t wince at every social media post I saw. I didn’t break at the end of the day over my failed relationship with my father. This year, I actually had a great Father’s Day.

And it all started with a text from my dad.

I wished him a happy Father’s Day back. Then I put my phone away for the meeting and continued my day.

What a way to start my Father’s Day.

Is Father’s Day a tough day for you? How do you handle the emotions that can come along with this holiday?

* Photo courtesy marzinians, Creative Commons.

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