The Father(les)s Day

My daddy. The Rev. Dr. Ronal C. Bridewell

My daddy. The Rev. Dr. Ronal C. Bridewell

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there! May all the love you show to your families come back to you 100 times! 

*This post is not to take away from honoring dads today. I just hope to it brings comfort to those of us who go through Father’s Day without our dads. I pray it blesses you!

Like Jai, I was blessed to have an amazing father; Rev. Dr. Ronal C. Bridewell. And boy, oh boy, did my daddy love him some me! We were very close and we spent a lot of time together.

Before he got sick I would ride around with him in his Powder Blue Riviera. We would go run errands and sometimes he would take me with him to meetings–mainly we went to church.

After he got sick, we spent a lot of time cooking, eating, watching television, and doing other little odd jobs. I would get his medicine together or type his sermon notes as he dictated them to me. He loved The Young and the Restless, cowboy movies, and anything that featured Elvis. (Go figure!) My favorite show was I Love Lucy, which he wasn’t all that fond of. He just liked to see me laugh and so he would watch me while I watched tv.

He was brilliant and talented.

He could sing! When I was a little girl we used to do the Nate King Cole and Natalie Cole duet just for fun. Amazing Grace was his favorite hymn and for a while, he would sing it before almost every sermon he preached.

He could draw too! He worked at an Elementary School and he would bring me laminated pictures that he drew for me at work—my favorite being a colored pencil drawing of a black Santa Claus.

He could PREACH! He was very analytical and insightful. Even as a kid I could appreciate that about him. When other kids slept during church I stayed up to watch the service. I might’ve been coloring or making origami sculptures out of church programs but most of the time, I was still listening to the sermon. After service, he would ask me how he did. It meant a lot to me that he asked. It meant a lot to him that I was listening.

What I remember most about our relationship is that I was probably the weirdest and most awkward kid EVER. He loved me anyway.

You might say, “Of COURSE he loved you!”

But what I really mean is that my daddy loved me with the kind of love that laid a hand on my shoulder and told me that I was ok exactly the way that I am in spite of the bullying and teasing, and rejection that I experienced in so many other places in my life.

I miss that hand like you wouldn’t believe!

have about 10 years of stories about that line right there. But I will tell you the last one I can remember…which of course happened in real life:

My eyes darted over to the clock. “Is it only 9am?!” I asked frantically.

So much had already happened that day. I dialed my property manager.  

A voice came over the phone, “Hello, this is Jake!” 

I was irritated with his cheerful tone. Didn’t he realize I was in a crisis?!

I tried to calm myself down before I responded. I wasn’t successful. “Hi, this LaNee Bridewell. I am one of your residents! Last night someone put a notice on my car saying that they were going to tow it!”

Jake went to check on the details of the situation. He returned, still cheerful. “Yes mam, it looks like the temporary tag on your car is expired and that is against our resident policy.”

“Yes, I know. Can you all just give me some time? I don’t really have that kind of money right now.” I said desperately.  

Jake got right to it, “I’m sorry there is nothing I can do.”

I was too weak to push back so I just hung up the phone. The room was spinning. I thought I was going to throw up, or worse, collapse.

It would’ve been fine if it was JUST the car. I could’ve handled that. But my heat had been off all winter. Jai needed new tennis shoes. We needed groceries, my account was $900 in the negative, my brakes were going out and now they saying they were going to tow my car!

I made my way to the storage closet near my cubicle, shut the door, and dropped to the floor.

Who could I tell? Even if I told them, what could they do?! I was wrecked! Right there on that floor, I felt the words coming up like hot vomit.

 I resisted, “I won’t say it! Not this time! I’m too grown!”

Before I could stop myself they rolled out anyway, “I. Want. My. Daddy!” and with that the little bit that I was holding together up until that point fell totally apart.

Isn’t that how we all feel? The words are so simple but they perfectly capture so many situations. Whether you never knew your father or you lost him or you never had a relationship with him, at the bottom of all those experiences are the words “I want my daddy.” Because, we do, in fact, want our Daddies. We have all these ideas of what our lives would be like if we had our Fathers…

Please don’t tell me I am the only one who sits around and reimagines the events of my life in the utopia of “If My Daddy Was Here…” We fill in the gaps of our lives with fantasies about what MIGHT’VE happened because we are not bound to the reality of something that never occurred.

And here is the thing about it: We will never be happy or healed living out our best moments in our heads.

My story wasn’t really over when I fell apart on the floor in that closet. I eventually got up. Still a mess, but I got up anyway. If I would’ve stayed there I would’ve missed the blessing that my Heavenly Father had in store for me. Through the Lord’s divine intervention I was able to get my utilities paid up, get groceries, get my bank account out of the negative, get my brakes fixed, AND get my tags within less than a week! (Now THAT’s a good place to shout!)

And no, things don’t always get resolved that easily. But the real blessing really wasn’t in getting my utilities paid or getting my tags. It was in the presence of my eternal Father whose hand will never leave my shoulder, who wrote me a whole Book telling me I’m ok exactly the way I am in spite of the hurt, and pain, and rejection I feel.

I know for some of us who go through Father’s Day without our fathers, it can feel lonely and awkward like, Fatherlessness Awareness Day. I won’t act like it’s going to be easy (as I write this with tears in my eyes.) But if you don’t have anything to celebrate today I invite you to join me, as I make today The (Heavenly) Father’s Day because thanks to Him the best moments of my life are real and in front of me and not trapped in my head.

Psalm 27:10 (ESV) “For my father and mother have forsaken me, But the Lord will take me up.”

Deut. 31: 6 (ESV) “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Stay Wonderful! 🙂

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