Written by Ulla Mia

I’ve never really liked Father’s Day. It’s a day I deliberately tried to push aside for years. That’s because my dad and I never had a good relationship when I was growing up. He passed away five years ago, so now it’s too late to reconcile. I carried bitterness against him, even as I tried to forgive him. I still carry bitter memories to this day. 

Almost everyone who knows me knows Father’s Day is hard. It’s the one time my mask of composure falls apart on cue, like a lost little girl needing her daddy. Only that was, in my mind, the last thing I needed.

I began meeting with a pastor for spiritual and emotional support. It was so hard for me to explain to him the wounds still running red in my heart, especially when I didn’t understand why it still hurt so much. He was so compassionate, so kind, but I was scared it was too good to be true!

Any minute, I rationalized, he’d decide I’m too much trouble or not know what to do with me, just as my dad had in the past. But this pastor informally adopted me as his “niece.” He invited me to his daughter’s 18th birthday party, which was the day before Father’s Day. Of course, I felt so honoured!

I tried so hard to be the tough, brave woman I thought I should be. I had sent out a million texts wishing every dad I knew happy Father’s Day, and made cards out of construction paper and marker—they looked like a grade school art project.

But I didn’t realize just how hard that day would be for me. At the party, I received a message asking if I was okay. And I cracked. I could no longer hold back the tears and fled into a back room to cry, partly hoping my new “uncle” would find me.

He did, and we talked through my tears. He did his best to counsel my pain without taking away the credit it deserved. After all, this pain was real. Then, he shocked me by asking me to spend Father’s Day with him the next day! I couldn’t believe he’d want my company on a special day set aside for family. But he insisted, so I complied. 

After church, he brought me to his home—a place I’ve grown quite fond of. He had invited a couple of others of his adopted clan as well. That day, I learned something about Father’s Day. 

Some of us don’t have a reason to celebrate this day. Maybe we didn’t have a good relationship with our dad. Or maybe he died. Or maybe he ran off when you were young, the list can go on. But my uncle said something I still remind myself of: “Our earthly fathers are really more like foster fathers because our true Father is in Heaven. Give Him your Father’s Day.”

My uncle showed me a sense of compassion and kindness my father never did. I loved the way he spoke to me or tried to make me smile and laugh—which always worked. I felt peace and safety in his presence. These were all things I craved so much as a child. I may not have experienced them through my earthly father, but God has blessed me with an uncle who taught me about what a father was meant to be.