I (Denise) had a brilliant idea one day to have a greeting card rack right outside our counseling office. The display would only have cards for mothers and fathers, whether for birthdays, anniversaries, or the holidays. One of the assignments we would give each client would be to pick out a card for their mom and for their dad and bring it into the counseling office to share during their session.
If you were picking out a card, what would it say?
“I’ve always looked up to you.”
“You were always there for me—you guided me and supported me.”
“Thanks for showing me what a great marriage looks like.”
”I am the person I am today because of you.” (Either that’s a good thing or you have some unresolved issues to address).
“You taught me more than you’ll ever know.” (This could be a tricky one too).
Or maybe you would lean toward a more generic message. “Have a nice day.” “Bless you.” “Thinking of you today.
You might find it easier to send a more humorous card that doesn’t require a heart-felt connection: Garfield with a birthday cake pop-up. An another-year-older joke. A childhood memory, like “I forgive you, Mom, for cutting my bangs too short. Happy Mother’s day anyway!” (That is one my sister actually sent to my mom).
If you wonder about what needs did or did not get met by your mother or father when you were growing up, read some greeting cards. Look at which cards you could never send. Maybe even pause and let yourself feel the loss, the sadness, the anger, or the indifference from not having some of the warm experiences and feelings conveyed in some of the cards.
When Jerry and I go card shopping, we often find cards we wish were true for us. One Father’s Day card read, “The Imprint of a Father Remains Forever on the Life of a Child.” Wow! Stop for a moment. Ponder that statement. What a precious truth for some sons and daughters, yet for others—it’s their worst nightmare. Unfortunately, in counseling, we see way too much of the latter.
Next time you are in the grocery store, stop at the card rack and instead of looking for a card for someone else, look at the cards you would like others to buy for you. With the Father’s help, maybe you can make card shopping a nice experience for the special people in your life.
Father, thank you that you are the perfect Father with a perfect mother-heart. Your strength on one side and your tenderness on the other do not conflict. Some days, I need you to war on my behalf. On others, I need you to hide me in the cleft of a rock, safe from my enemies. There are times when I need you to run to me and embrace me in my fallenness—to collect my tears in a bottle and add some of your own, just as you cried over Jerusalem. There are times when I need you to continue to work on the mansion you are building for yourself in my heart. To sing over me with a song only you and I know. To draw me into your rest in a way I have never known. How can you be and do all these things for me as though I am the only one? How wonderful and awesome you are! Father God, I am asking you to be the imprint of a Father that remains forever on the life of this child—me.
(Excerpt from "Loving God, Loving Myself")
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