By Heather Walton
Throughout my life I have learned that the only perfect father is our Heavenly Father. Regardless, all of the fathers in our lives shape us into who we are.
The first father I knew was, of course, my biological father. I’m told that he was essentially a good man and that he adored me. I wish I could remember him that way. However, children often remember people by the strongest impressions made on them. My dad died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 29. Unfortunately, my memories of him are scarier than they are tender, but I have to trust that he was a man who wanted to love me, but who put his alcohol first.
I went 7 years without any kind of father in my life, as both of my grandfathers died within a year of my dad. When I was 15, my mom remarried, giving me a step-father. By this time, I had an active life. Between school, a part-time job, friends, and a serious boyfriend, I didn’t spend much time at home. I left for the military at 17, right after graduation. Because of my age and a full life, I didn’t form much of an attachment to my stepdad at that point.
At 18, I eloped with that serious boyfriend, who also was a soldier. Six years later, he became the third father in my life–the father of my children. We had two daughters and two sons together before our 23-year marriage broke up. Because of those children, he is still in my life as a co-parent.
During the divorce process, my stepdad and I became closer, as he began giving me fatherly advice and helping the kids and me out in ways that we’ve needed and appreciated.
Six months ago, he got to walk me down the aisle, as I married the fourth father in my life.
I have seen my precious husband lead his biological children and my biological children in a Godly way. Together, we have seven children. Like each of the fathers in my life, except my Heavenly Father, Terry is not perfect, but he is committed to being the father God has called him to be. I never expected that my children would have a stepfather, but I’m so glad that they have the example of this kind, patient man who exemplifies 1 Corinthians 13. He hasn’t had an easy road with his kids or with mine, but God is blessing the fruit of his labor, and I can see it happening day by day.
Not only is Terry my children’s stepfather, but he is the biological father of our child, a child we will not meet here on earth. I suffered an ectopic pregnancy a month ago, and the grief is real as I consider that today is Father’s Day. I believe we would have been great parents to this child, because we have about 40 years parenting experience between us. Much of what we have learned about being good parents was discovered through making mistakes. Often that’s the most effective way to gain wisdom. However, we will not get the chance to parent the precious child we lost–the child we both were so excited about. We simply have to trust that our little one is being raised by the only perfect Father there ever was.
No father compares to our Abba in Heaven, but I know that I wouldn’t be who I am today without all five of the fathers I’ve had in my life, from my biological father to my Creator. To dads everywhere, however imperfect, I say, “Happy Father’s Day!”