I’m the girl with three fathers. This Father’s Day is a first, as I get to celebrate my dad, my biological father, and now my father-in-law. I am blessed to be surrounded by men who have set such a wonderful example of what it means to live life with integrity, what it means to be true to yourself, and what it means to follow Jesus. This Father's Day, I have the privilege of honoring all three of these men who have loved me fiercely and taught me so much.
To my dad,
After 24 years, you sir, have taught me many things.
You taught me perseverance. You encouraged me to do what I love, and never give up. After every clumsy toddler tumble, you picked me up. You rode alongside me during my first venture off of training wheels. You sacrificed your knees and elbows so I could learn to ride, even if roping our bikes together was a terrible idea. You were always that pat on the back I needed to shake it off and try again.
You taught me that it's okay wonder. When Ryan and I wondered about where we came from, our biological families, you dreamed with us. You wondered where they could be, what they might be like now. You encouraged both of us to keep asking questions, and keep seeking answers.
You taught me numbers, or as I refer to it- a foreign language. You walked me through flash cards of multiplication tables hundreds of times, and you spent countless hours teaching me algebra, even if you were 365 miles away.
You taught me bravery. You showed me how to survive on the road with a spider in your hair. You taught me that fear is fleeting.
You taught me to love the outdoors. You taught me about God's creation, the creatures that inhabit it, and the beauty that he has painted into every mountainside and every forest.
You taught me survival skills- how to camp and make a fire, how to climb a tree and catch a fish. You taught me how to appreciate the simpler things and how to unplug from the world.
You taught me how to love myself. After my first heartbreak, you are the one who taught me how to pick up the pieces and march forward. You taught me to leave the past where it belongs.
You taught me to be independent. You helped me learn how to have faith in myself, and to stand on my own two feet. You taught me how to be free.
You taught me forgiveness. You taught me that God forgave us first, so we must forgive, too (Colossians 3:13). You wrapped your arms around me even when I really ticked you off. You taught me that people’s mistakes don’t define them.
You taught me to stand up for myself, to never let the world get the best of me because I had to give my best to the world (Colossians 3:23).
You taught me selflessness. You sacrificed so much to send me to the college of my dreams. You gritted your teeth and smiled when I told you I wanted to change my major, because seeing me happy made you happy.
You taught me how to see. You taught me that what appears on the surface isn't always what lies within. You taught me how to seek truth, and how to see it.
You taught me courage. You were brave when you spoke to me about my biological family. You were exceptionally brave when you made that phone call that led us to meeting them.
But most of all, Dad, you taught me faith.
You had faith when you and mom introduced me to my biological parents. You put your faith in God, and courageously put the pieces in motion to reconnect with another set of parents that hold a special place in my heart. You had faith that I wouldn’t be led astray, that I would always be your little girl. You had faith that God was in the very threads that sewed our lives together, and you had faith that His hand still held that needle and thread.
Moments before you walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, we shared a breath of nostalgia, flashing memories of how far you’ve brought me. Standing behind those church doors, we chuckled. What a road it had been. You walked me down the aisle, the most tearful and joyous walk we’ve taken, and placed my hand in my husband’s. I was beaming, tears strewn across my veil- truly the luckiest girl in the world. All I saw was roses and love and the men God had so graciously given me. I knew my husband was the man God intended for me because you, Dad, had spent so many years being the example of what it means to be honorable, what it means to live with integrity and what it means to pursue God even when the going gets tough. I knew I had found my one and only because he reflects the kind of man that you are, and I am confident that he’ll be the kind of father for our children that you were for me.
To my biological father,
Even before I knew you, you taught me so much.
You taught me about dreams and about imagination. Before I knew you, I dreamt of you. What you looked like, what kind of family you were raised in, what adventures you had been on, your triumphs and your failures.
After years and years of waiting and wonder, you taught me how to sustain patience. Even more, you taught me how to be patient for God’s perfect timing (Psalm 27:13-14).
You taught me about respect. You respected my family by giving us the space for my brother and I to grow up well. You respected our parents and you respected our childhoods.
You taught me to seek the best, because you sought the best for me.
You taught me about selflessness, because you sacrificially loved me.
You taught me how to step out in faith, because that is precisely what you had done for me.
Now that I’ve had the chance to get to know you and catch up on our lives spent apart, you’ve taught me so much more.
It’s a curious thing, nature vs. nurture, and if nature has taught me anything, it’s that I am proud of what made me, me.
I am proud to share the blood of a man who is fearless, who knows how to take on challenges with the best of them, who thrives on adventure and discovering the world.
I am proud of this man who takes genuine interest in the people he serves, only to learn how to serve them better.
I am proud to share my genes with a man who gives all he has for the people he loves.
He is a man of his word. He is a man of courage.
I am proud to be the daughter of a man that can love someone before even knowing them.
I am proud to come from a lineage founded in faith and forgiveness.
I am proud to be a part of this legacy.
I am humbled in having the opportunity to learn and grow from a father who had already, unknowingly, taught me so much.
To my father in law,
I am honored to share a last name with the man who raised my husband. You are a true treasure, and you hold the respect of so many who know you. You have given me the precious gift of my husband, and for that I am abundantly grateful.
You have led your family to know the Lord in a real and authentic way. Your love extends beyond your own family and into your community.
I can see the love of Christ in the way that you treat people. Your belly laugh and warm smile invites people in for Sunday morning pancakes, or even just to stay for a while. You open your home freely to those who need refuge.
You have a way of seeing beyond facades and into the true beauty of people. You joke and you laugh and your joy is contagious.
I am thankful that my husband learned from a man like you. You have instilled in him biblical values and bold faith. You showed him how to let things go and when to take a stand. You taught him tenderness and you taught him how to be strong. He has a capacity to love that inspires me every single day.
You, father in love, are leaving a legacy in your sons and daughters. I am blessed to call you my family.