It’s Father’s Day and I am hugely grateful for my Dad, who has been a massive encouragement to me over my life, especially growing up. His attitude (and my Mum’s too, just to be clear) towards us was always that we should pursue our dreams, be the best we could be and trust that God had a plan for our lives.
My Dad is also the person I get a lot of my gutsiness from.
As a kid he would catch us as we leaped from climbing frames, spot us as we walked along the wooden perameters of the local park, chanting “it’s easy, it’s easy” to ourselves, whilst he did the same and reminded us to keep “chin over chest, chest over knee” for balance. That alongside the sage advice that if we started to wobble, we should bend our knees to regain our balance.
Dad was the one who taught me that the silly and sinister ghost stories I heard in the playground, and which scared me as I tried to sleep, were actually just silly when you really thought about them.
The one who explained that the rattle snakes in True Grit were not real, followed by some rattle snake facts about how to tackle them; who endlessly quoted that “fear is only what you don’t know”; who at age six, first took me rock climbing and taught me to trust the rope by trialling a fall; at age 8 taught me chemistry and helped me make blue copper sulphate crystals in the kitchen with his old chemistry set- boy did I feel clever, and who made up silly songs and wrote me poems, something that I also love to do.
Dad taught me judo in the kitchen, football in the garden, gymnastics over the shed threshold, and when I was being bullied, practiced karate punches and blocks with me. His technical approach to movement always ready to help me work out something new.
We climbed trees, wrestled in and out of water, we went for long walks, had long talks about life God and the universe, discussed politics in depth, despite my young age, and marvelled at sunsets together, always pointing out his wonder at God’s artistry.
He inspired my love of fine art, and fed me the belief that I can achieve anything and that it is always worth trying and committing to something.
He enjoyed us as kids and promoted the family, working hard alongside mum to help my siblings and I build lasting and warm relationships with each other- something we still enjoy.
He was my biggest fan, told me before every performance to “knock ’em dead!”. His approval meant the world to us and his courage to ask our forgiveness when he realised that he’d got stuff wrong, made our fights disappear as relationship was restored.
And when I decided that I had prayed and felt called to be an actress, he never once suggested that I should play it safe, get a trade behind me and wait and see, but encouraged me to shoot for the moon with God in my sights. I have never been in any doubt that he is proud of me, he has told me often and told everyone else who would listen.
Sure he had and still has his flaws.
But he was my first hero, my first example of fatherhood, my first impression of what God’s fatherhood is like, and he has done remarkably well.
Despite being his firstborn, where no man could ever be good enough for me, he learnt to let me go to another, my most wonderful and Godly husband, now also a wonderful father, and he welcomed him into our family as another son.
He is an encourager of me, an encourager of my husband and of our marriage, and he is very much enjoying being a granddad who encourages his daughter-now-mother in her own motherhood.
His love of Jesus and desire to follow him wholeheartedly, frequently in the face of trials and persecution (again just like my mum) has played a huge part in grounding me in my faith, and I am grateful for this above all.
I realise that I am hugely blessed, that not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a dad who cared so deeply, or who praised and encouraged his children so generously and unashamedly, and who was so free in demonstrating his affection, but I also know that there are many, many who do.
I am so grateful for my Dad.
I am also grateful that when his time eventually comes to go home, I will still have an eternal father to love me, who never gets it wrong.
So thank you God for my dad.
Thank you for my wonderful husband who is the most amazing father, and will build his own legacy as he parents our children.
And I ask for blessings on Dad’s everywhere, that they may become more like you with every day of fatherhood. Because this is where the legacy of a dad is – in his children.
‘Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.’