I know I am jaded in the area of fatherlessness. I struggle with being rational and patient when it comes to those blinded by the epidemic. Yes, I know, there is a lot of brokenness and ministry necessary in this world. I support it financially and emotionally outside of the ministry work I do. But, dang it, there is just a burr in my saddle when folks overlook the fatherless kids.
One day, way back before I was active in my church or ministry, I took my oldest, a tot of 6 or 7 at the time, to the corner store. This was a big day for him because I was giving him some money and he was going in the store to buy the candy of his choice, alone, without me. We pulled up and stopped right in front of the doors. He clutched his dollar bills tightly in anticipation of the amazing sugary adventure ahead. “OK, hop out and get what you want,” I said. He smiled up at me, lifted the handle and pushed the door open with both hands and a foot. He slid off the seat onto the pavement then closed the door behind himself.
I sat in the truck and watched as he struggled to pull the big glass door open and go inside. He walked two isles down, turned right and disappeared inside. Adults moved in and out. I waited, patiently, watching. It seemed forever. I can see it in my mind him examining every sweet option. Then he reappeared and walked up to the counter. Adults in front of him checking out, then several lined up behind him. He moved forward as the clerk finished with those in front of him. Then it began.
When it was his turn the clerk called up, in front of him, the person behind him. Then again, and again. He stood there, afraid be assertive. I began to get mad. Are there really this many people so self-important that they did not see a little boy in front of them with candy and 2 dollars in hand? What is up with that clerk. I had enough and went into the store and walked right in front of the line of people and stepped him up next to me. The clerk looked at us, looked at his candy, rang it up and took his money. He took his change and we left.
That day left a huge impression on me. How many kids are overlooked everyday. Lost in fear of never being recognized? Which brings me to the struggle I have with one of the elements of fatherlessness. We make a big deal in our churches and schools about the daddy/daughter dance. Flyers, posters, announcements from the stage. Long slide shows and videos at the service on Sunday. Then the father/son campout or football adventure or other outing is all the rage. The pastors are excited to take their boys, the Deacons, the new young dads.
What the heck. What is the little boy or girl who doesn’t have a daddy feeling at that moment? Do I matter, I don’t because my dad left. My mom and dad don’t live together and that is my mom’s weekend so I guess I can’t go. My parents don’t get along so I am not saying a word.
I want to challenge you today. Father’s day is just around the corner. Half the kids on your block, in your church, at youth group need to know they matter and Father’s day is a big one. Let me suggest somethings outside of the normal comfort zone for almost every intact family.
Look into your world, what kid does not have a dad? Kids at church? Kids on your block? Ask your kids, your wife.
- Invite a kid or them and their single mom to lunch after church that day with you and your family.
- Buy a pocket knife, a flashlight or a pretty handkerchief and gift it to them with uplifting words of a father that day.
- Go visit a Juvenile detention center or rehab for kids. Take cookies or bibles, books.
- Rally some kids for a movie, popcorn and candy. Stay focused on all the kids.
- Remind your church to be sensitive to the fatherless when they plan outings, include options that excite the fatherless kids.
This is a great chance to teach your kids the heart of the Father. Explain to them the hurt that these kids are living with and help them understand the gift it is for them to share you on father’s day.
Everyday fatherless kids are reminded that they lack the advantages of an intact family. They long for it but so often they stuff it way down deep, only to irrupt later, sideways. Know your hand on their shoulder, an invite and kind word can be a game changer.
Dads are the rock of our community. They matter, yes. Just don’t forget the kid in line at the corner store, the water fountain or the fishing pier standing alone. I pray one of these young men or women will remember when a man helped them and they step in to help the little guy they notice standing there alone. And PS, cherry sours and Bit-O-Honey are the bomb.