He could have asked us to address Him by many titles:
Creator of Heaven and Earth
King Of Israel
The Most High
Lord Of Armies
The Lawgiver And Judge
or even Heavenly Husband
And yet, He chose ‘Father.’
Last October, I admired the Temple Square fountains from the gorgeous 4th floor office of Elder William Walker as he told this story–
Elder Packer shuffled into Elder Walker’s office and lowered himself into a chair with visible discouragement. “I just had the most disturbing conversation with an old friend.” he grumbled.
This friend was a former Bishop and Stake President who complained to Elder Packer now that he was getting on in years the church just wasn’t using his talents—“I could do so much good in the world!” He expressed. I imagine he hoped that Elder Packer’s position might secure him a spot in a temple presidency or as an area authority.
“He just doesn’t get it,” Elder Packer lamented to Elder Walker, “he just doesn’t get how lucky he is to just be grandpa.”
I’ve replayed that story (and the entire conversation) over and over in my mind for the last several months. In our church that speaks so passionately and so often about the divine role of mothers, we rarely address the importance of fatherhood.
Even in our family centered church, we tend to revere men who hold high positions and/or bring home large paychecks, both of which take fathers from the home. A conversion story from the pulpit doesn’t seem complete unless it ends with, “and he went on to become a bishop and a stake president. ” We don’t seem content with, “And he cherished his children, taught them well and guided them towards Christ.”
This subject is a painful one for those abandoned by their fathers for prestige, addictions or the bed of a younger woman. But there is one Father who will never abandon or betray us— the King of Heaven, Elohim, the Father of us all.
And it is because of our divine parentage that we should teach and strive for an ideal image of fatherhood. Children innately tie their perception of God to their earthly father. My oldest son pointed out that as much as women decry the depiction of women in the media- common portrayals of husbands and fathers are equally disturbing. Yes, we see the strong, competent, single, childless Jason Bourne type men, but fathers are usually rendered as lazy, sports obsessed, beer-guzzling, burping figures used for comic relief.
I intend to teach my sons a different ideal.
Two Saturdays ago, I photographed a Valentine party my friend was holding for her six-year old Isabelle—my camera clicked fast and furiously as I tried the capture the twirling, sparkling little girls, but over and over, I found my lens focused on Isabelle’s two grandfathers who had set aside everything else that afternoon to help with the party.
I became bit teary watching, Karl, an 80 year old widower, bent low to bead wooden necklaces with his small charges, while Dave tried his hand at the glue gun. Yes, I may have overheard a bit of longing for the U of U basketball game on television, but nothing took priority over their small posterity.
Men who know how lucky they are to just be grandpa.
How has your life been influenced by good fathers and grandfathers?
If your father has let you down, how do you compensate/overcome that loss?
How can we raise our sons to be “fathers who know”?
Can you share movies or television shows that portray good fathers? We came up with Ramona & Beezus, Finding Nemo and Life is Beautiful.