I wanted to write a blog about dads, my dad’s and how I explained to my kids why there are and have been so many dads in my life. I have had total of four. I grew up in a world of much confusion in my home life. Questioning how one of the dad’s in my life could stay the course. For most of my life I thought something must be wrong with me, and therefore one would choose to leave. However, as my life unfolded I began to understand. With understanding came the opportunity to speak to my own children about each dad in my life.
Dad number one was William Sutton. As I learn of his life growing up I have forgiveness and grace for his removal from my life. I was that little girl, looking out the window as her daddy drove away. I was his “Littlebit” a nick name for being the runt of four girls. I never understood until I was a grown up what his life looked like and the circumstances around that parting. However he had choices, he had money, he could have been a plane, but his life got busy with a new wife, actually several wives and children that followed. As a young girl I was left to make up the stories of who he might be. To my children I said, “This dad did not know how to stay in one family so he left.”
Dad number two. Even with forgiveness and grace I have chosen to never post a picture or speak his name. I never wanted any of my five children to have the face of a man, who abused me, in their minds. I have stories that could fill a book. As I have gotten older, my heart cries for the women and girls who have experienced the same at the hand of a man, who knew nothing of how to treat a little girl. The abuse and the damage were so traumatic that the state took us girls from that home. To my children I said, “This dad hurt mommy and important people made the decision to save me from this daddy and removed me.”
Dad number three is Iral Dean. He was the dad I prayed for. He was no prince charming. Not the kind that my dreams would pray for. I dreamed of white horses and a dad with a cape. He was quiet, thoughtful and a teacher. He had a heart that could receive this chatty girl. He showed up. I did not grow up in this family, therefore I did not know the unspoken rules that homes grow into. I spoke up; I sat in his office chair when others grimaced. I told him he needed cooler tennis clothes. I asked questions. I was awkward and silly and there that quiet gentle spirit showing up and given me many seasons of a dad. To my children I said, “This dad did not have to be my dad, but he chose to be that dad. “
Dad number four. God. When I was seven years old, my Sunday school teacher put me on her lap. She said, “Elizabeth there is a God who wants to be your Father. No matter what happens in your life he is your Father in Heaven.” I believed her. He stayed the course. He came into my heart that day. Alice Warren, that old lady with gray hair and reading glassed wrapped her arms around me in love. She gave me the gift of understanding a Heavenly Daddy. A little girl who had one dad removed and another abusing. She shared one who I could cling to when all the other dads made no sense. To my children I said, “This Dad is heavenly and Holy. He will never fail you, and He has carried me through each season. This is the Dad who sustains me. “
Father’s Day is bittersweet for many. Today it’s a day that I honor those who passed through my life. Why? Because Dad number four has poured forgiveness and grace into my heart. This is the kind of example of love that I have been able to pour back into my own children. It truly is a Holy kind of love, because on my own I would not be able to love like this. There is freedom from bitterness when we choose the kind of love that this Daddy provides. Often people comment on my youth, my happiness, and my joy. People have made statements, “I am envious of your life. You must have grown up in one of those perfect homes.” I grew up in chaos and confusion. Hurt and harm. Yet through the love of my heavenly daddy that joy is what resides in my heart.
Happy Father’s Day