The title “father” can come to any man who is biologically able. Yet, it has been my experience that sometimes that is nothing more than a title. A father doesn’t have to accept the responsibilities of fatherhood, but a dad will. Although the two titles are often used interchangeably, they mean two very different things to me. I would much rather have a dad than just a father.
My Biological Father
I don’t know what I expected this life to be like before coming to earth. More than anything, I probably wanted loving parents that would raise me right and a family that I could be happy in. However, any expectation that I could have had probably made my first few years very disappointing.
My siblings and I were born in the late ’80s and early 90s but the people who brought us into the world were more focused on drugs than they were on being parents.
Our father liked to collect garbage and keep it in a warehouse where we lived. Our oldest sister, barely a teenager herself, had to take upon herself many of the parenting responsibilities. In our situation, we must have been broken-hearted. This was not the world that we wanted to come into. We were certainly gypped!
Eventually, all of us kids split up and took a tour through the foster system. At one point, we were sent to a town out in the middle of nowhere. That is how I met my dad (please note that my father and my dad are two different people in this story).
My Dad Became My Everything
He and my mom couldn’t have kids and, after a prayerful journey, they decided to become foster parents. A week after they had gone through training, my oldest sister and I came to them. We were their first batch of kids. Several of my other siblings would come later.
My dad was completely different than my father. He worked hard all day to provide for us and he came home every night.
I thought he was hilarious! He would act like he didn’t see me and act scared, screeching “Where did you come from?!” In my innocent mannerisms, I would reply with whichever town that I had last called home.
He was more than the man who had biologically fathered us. That man’s selfish tendencies only hurt us and did us no good. Yes, my dad was so much more than that father ever was.
“The greatest gift I ever had came from God; I call him Dad!” ―unknown author
My dad stole my heart with his tenderness and affection. He would “teach” me to drive and “let” me steer the wheel as he drove down the street. If I didn’t cry at the doctor’s office, I would be rewarded with a giant chocolate bunny or candy bar. When I got A’s in school I was taken on a daddy-daughter date.
Having a dad in my life gave me so much comfort. I always went to bed wearing his t-shirts. They were so big that they were practically dresses on me!
We even had our own special song. It was “My Girl” by the Temptations. He would blare it throughout the house, pick me up, and we would dance. He was always making me feel special!
To them, we weren’t just some kids that they were renting, experimenting with the idea of being parents. We were theirs. No matter how hard we pushed them and the whole world away from us. No matter how angry we were at every living thing that crossed our paths. They wanted us!
Yes, I have everything to be grateful for.
My Personal Hero
My dad could never take away my past from me but he certainly fought to give me my life back. He and my mom took the state and my birth family on by crusade as they fought, for five years, for their right to be called our parents.
Over time, they adopted three out of the five members in my sibling group, adopted several other kids, and took in about fifteen others for various periods of time each.
My dad stepped up to the plate and took on all of the responsibilities of fatherhood. He chose to sign a contract and promised a judge that he would when he adopted us. Not only that, though, he told God that he would when he took my siblings and I to the temple and chose to be our dad for eternity.
I am older now and have lived on my own for quite some time. The memories of my father are melting away, but that doesn’t matter because I have a dad.
He and I don’t dance to the Temptations anymore and he’ll probably never let me behind the wheel of his awesome hot rod. It’s also been a long time since we’ve been on a daddy-daughter date, but I still wear some of his t-shirts.
Although life has gotten busy for all of us, I know that no matter what I will always have two loving parents who are there for me. On the subject of dads, I have one amazing dad! He really is my personal hero.
Heavenly Father and Fatherhood
There is nothing wrong with becoming a father. Respectfully speaking, it doesn’t take much for a man to father a child. If he wants, he can stand on the sidelines, step up to the plate of responsibility, or walk completely away from the game of life.
When a man steps up to the plate he fully accepts the role of fatherhood. As with motherhood, fatherhood is a sacred calling that is very gender specific. These roles have been with mankind since the beginning of time.
Adam and Eve were our first earthly parents. Yet, they like all of their decedents struggled with imperfections. The most perfect father that ever was is our Heavenly Father.
He shows us His love as He provides for us. He guides us and helps us to know what is right. He communicates with us individually in a way that is both miraculous and special. Truly, He is the most perfect father that ever was and every dad should look to Him to know how to fulfill their fatherhood responsibilities.
The Difference Between A Father and a Dad
Jesus Christ didn’t refer to our Heavenly Father just as His father. He understood that it was a respectful term, but, even He used a more intimate word. He prayed “Abba, Father…take this cup away from me” (Mark 14:36) in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Abba” is a term of endearment, meaning “daddy”, and is often used as an intimate name for Heavenly Father.
Centuries have past since Jesus walked the earth, but today we still use differentiating terms for fathers. 200 years ago, in English, the intimate word for “father” was “papa”. Today, our equivalent is “dad”. I am a strong believer in the concept that it takes a real man to be a dad. This man will accept that
“Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad” ―Wade Boggs
A father is the man who helps bring you into this world, but a dad stays by your side throughout this life.
A father might take pride in the smallest of things, but a dad takes pride in the fact that he has a family to care for.
A father can talk at you, but a dad will use those words to fill your head with wisdom.
A father might be physically strong, but a dad will use his inward strength to fight the battles that he can for you.
A father can give you a gift for your birthday, but a dad will work every day to give you the whole world.
A father can tell you what is right from wrong, but a dad will show you by his example.
A father is someone who can say “I love you”, but a dad is a man who will show you that relentlessly.
I am very grateful that there are men in this world like my dad who take the sacred role of fatherhood seriously. To all the dad’s out there, Happy Daddy’s Day!