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Knowing Father

By Brooke Benton

When my dad tells me he loves me, I know that he truly loves me. I can see it in his blue eyes and how they squint just so, tearing up. Sure, there were times I also saw disappointment or anger cloud those eyes, but first and foremost I knew love, and so the subsequent was always colored by it.

And when I think of him, I always think of his massive hands, veined and rugged. They seem the perfect symbol of who my dad is, a poignant contrast of rough and tender. As a child I was often scared at night and so he would pat my tummy. Later, when I was too big to admit I needed my tummy patted, he would lie in the hallway outside my open bedroom door and read the evening newspaper, far enough away so that I could feel a little autonomous but close enough so that I wouldn’t be afraid. And I would fall asleep listening to the crinkled dry sound of page against page.

When I call my dad on the phone now, I hear a voice that takes me back to everything I’ve ever known. To past conversations about who to marry, what to do with my life, how to solve another dreaded trigonometry problem”“ and to his advice, the sound of it like a curing poultice as it curled around my ears and told me to pray. And I remember the time he whispered a quiet good-bye when he dropped me off at college, and how I cried to leave him and to leave that childhood.

I understand my father’s love, and I can fathom it physically. I can easily call up a mental picture of him, and feel the way his palm presses against me as we hug, and hear the way his voice sounds when he sings with the radio, when he whistles. These things are as much a part of him as they are a part of me and my subconscious”“ the memories and moments that have shaped me. I don’t remember my Heavenly Father physically, but my dad helps me to understand the veracity of being shaped by a God as well, and how my thoughts and actions may be the direct result of the spirit I became in my Father’s presence.

My dad helps me begin to fathom the future day I will hold holy hands that bless, and recognize a voice that already knows my name. My dad, a mere mortal, who taught me what pieces of love he knew, helps me see the possibility of Heavenly Father’s perfect love. And makes me know that someday, I will see that love I know from my dad’s eyes in His eyes too. Only more-so.

Has being loved by your father on earth helped you comprehend (even in just the smallest way) the love of your Father in Heaven? And if you didn’t grow up with a father, has God helped you to understand one?

About Brooke Benton

(Blog Team) is attempting inner om with this writing stuff. Proud to claim four loud children, a patient husband and a fat black cat as family, she feels blessed to be their mommy-- their giver of kisses and baker of cookies. She is ever seeking a good novel and wishing for the sand between her toes, palm trees, the ocean.

29 thoughts on “Knowing Father”

  1. Brooke–I've never thought of it this way. Connecting to Heavenly Father has never been easy for me. I have never been sure how to "relate." However, my imperfect father did teach me about unconditional love and limits and life and work and hardship. I guess those are heavenly lessons after all.

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  2. Beautiful, Brooke. These are experiences I wish every child could have. For some of us, Heavenly Father is the "father I always wished I had." I think our fathers can't help but teach us what we want and need, whether they exemplify that or not.

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  3. I have a father who isn't perfect, but no one has Steve Martin from Father of Bride as their father, so I suspect no one's father could be perfect, right? Anyway, it seems like my dad hasn't always been comfortable with expressing his love and maybe that was because he grew up in a family that honestly told him that children should be seen and not heard. So having seven children of his own, and now 18 grandchildren has helped him to learn how to express his love that I have always known and felt. Becoming a mother myself has helped me to understand my Dad more because of the incredible love that I feel for my own children. It has also helped me to love him more.
    Knowing this love for my children and the love that my dad has for his children gives me only a glimpse of the love that our Father in Heaven has for ALL of us. It seems intangible at times, and warm and comforting at others. It is such a blessing to know that it's there. I'm so grateful to have the Gospel in my life because it has given me this knowledge, and I can't imagine being without it in this world.
    Thanks Brooke, this is a great reflection right before Father's Day!

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  4. brooke. i think about this all the time. i can't help but feel the love of my Heavenly Father when i think of my own father. i think of unconditional love. deep understanding. my dad never judged me. i always felt he was on my side whatever the situation. even if i was in the wrong. he always had a way of making me feel "not so alone". now that i am a mother. i tend to want to make my childrens choices for them. i tend to want to live for them. they have free agency, and i forget that. my dad kept it all in balance. he taught me to use that free agency, that our loving Heavenly Father gave to us. my dad. how did he find that balance of giving me so much love, but letting go of me, at the same time? isn't that what our Heavenly Father does?

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  5. Having had several "dad"s in my young life, and never really knowing the bio-dad at all except through venim laced statements, it is hard for me to understand the dad role completely. I do have the last of the dads still in my life, who came into our tornado of a family and did what he could to fill the needs of mother and her brood. I am thankful for that.

    When either of the "parent days" roll around I think of other people first before I think of my own parents. I feel guilty for that, but there isn't the ideal family situations that make them forefront in my heart and thinking. There are hurts still there that I am working at forgiving and forgetting.

    During these holidays I focus on those who have been surrogate parents, sometimes without even understanding their role in my eyes. I think of my in-laws who do amazing things for me, and I then I do think of the 'real' parents. Mainly I think of my husband and the incredible dad he has been to my children…the only real dad I have seen in action 24-7. And yes, this helps me understand My Heavenly Father more.

    I have adopted my own meaning to the passage that reads: "I [S'mee], being born of goodly parents…" I have been born of goodly parents, Heavenly Parents and also those who tried their best on earth.

    Whatever the outcome, I will always have my Heavenly Parents.

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  6. Brooke, this is great. I do think it's easier for me to comprehend Heavenly Father's love because I have a loving earthly father. And, like s'mee, watching my husband be a father to our kids is also very tender for me.

    I believe that fathers and mothers are both so important, and Brooke has hit on one of the most important reasons why: fatherly love helps us understand God.

    Also, thanks to those who wrote about difficult earthly father relationships. I am grateful that Father in Heaven's love helps that pain to heal.

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  7. Patricia's comment that I just accidentally deleted…Sorry!:

    Considering 85% of Americans come from highly dysfunctional households, this is quite the refreshing perspective. This piece is well written and engaging, stirring personal memories and appreciation of the most profound male influence in our lives.

    You have been extraordinarily blessed.

    A.P.

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  8. o.k., now that i'm done drying my eyes.
    my dad is no longer on this earth, so just reading all the wonderful things about your dad makes me cry.
    i use to be afraid of leaving this place even though i knew i would go someplace wonderful.
    after my father past, and so many tears past, i came to relize i wasn't afraid anymore.
    i had a little time with him in the days before his passing and he told me not to be afraid as i hugged him so tight.
    at the time i thought he meant not to be afraid about him leaving, but now i think he meant, don't be afraid to leave.
    the strength of my father was there for the hundreth time and through him i could feel the strength of our father in heaven, helping me to be unafraid.
    i know we'll be together again.

    i was very lucky to have a father such as mine…

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  9. Brooke, what a wonderful, touching piece about your father. You are blessed to have such a father and he is lucky to have such a daughter who recognizes his goodness and strengths.

    Your reflections caused me think about and miss my own father whom I loved and miss very much. His hands were always a mystery to me…how could they work so hard and be calloused and strong, yet so soft and gentle at the same time? I always knew I was special to him and that was an anchor in my life.

    Thank you for a beautifully written article. I will look forward to more by you.

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  10. I loved how constant my dad was irregardless of circumstances. I always knew what to expect from him and I feel like that is the very essence of the characteristic of our Heavenly Father. He is very constant and patient, and most importantly I feel like both my secular father and Heavenly Father want us to be the happiest we can be.

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  11. Brooke this was really nice to read. I loved the newspaper story.
    Because I have so much love for my earthly father, it has been natural for me to connect to my Heavenly Father.
    Dads are the best.

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  12. Brooke…I wish I could write like you. Reading this made me cry as I reflected on all the things I love about my earthly father. I have often said the reasons I love priesthood blessings stem from my childhood when I would go to my Dad's bedside at night crying from growing pains in my legs. My father would place his hands on my head and give me a blessing of healing, then I would crawl into bed next to him (wrapped in his arms) and fall fast asleep. Even today (if I'm in San Jose) I will go to my dad for a blessing and afterward he will wrap me in his arms…the ultimate comfort. The only other time I feel this type of comfort is when I spiritually feel my Heavenly Father's arms wrapped around me during prayer.

    Also, I was touched by your article as I thought about how much I love your dad Bill. The funny thing is when I think of your dad I think of his strong large hands too. And one of the memories that stands out most about your dad is him laying on the floor in the hallway (halfway under the doorway) talking to us teenager as we lye on your bed. I always thought it was so sweet that he would care enough about you to do that and in turn it made me feel like he cared about me too.

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  13. What a great blessing to have a Dad like yours, Brooke. I agree with Holly, that having children of my own and watching their dad (my husband) has made me appreciate my own father more. Excellent parallel.

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  14. Beautiful thoughts, Brooke! I believe that loving mortal parents make it much easier for their children to accept and have faith in loving Heavenly parents. Personally, the way my own father counseled me during tough times has helped me to view Heavenly Father as a parent who is compassionate and quick to forgive rather than a being who is easily angered and disappointed with our mistakes. I'm grateful for that perspective.

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  15. Brooke, once again I am in awe of who you are and what you do! That was beautiful and i hate to admit it but it made me cry! :)I have never thought of the correlation between my two fathers. I have been so blessed with an amazing earthly father, yet one that is still imperfect. Thinking of it this way just overwhelms me with the love that our Savior has for me.

    I am so proud of you and knew that this day would come where your writing would be for all to see. I am so proud of you and love you to death!

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  16. Although he was a terrible person, my father is the only person I recall being loving toward me as a child. My mother was too beaten down to be affectionate and her family all had favorites and I wasn't one of 'em :). I never longed for affection from anyone as a child, except for my father. I missed him terribly when he was away, and he mostly was away. He is the only person I remember cuddling me and treating me sweetly.

    Now that my vision of him is blurred by present revelations about his character–and because as an adult, I realize how truly lacking in character and fatherly devotion, I'm left with nothing to envision for a fatherly presence.

    Consequently, I've had a very difficult time conceiving God. Conceiving Him as accepting and loving and kind. I work on it, I create pictures. I've tried using my husband, the father he is, how much he loves the kids, but it's still incomplete.

    Like S'mee, I'm a little wounded in that area. And I can hope for understanding in eternity.

    And may I add that children who grow up like I did, or adults who grew up, whatever is grammatical, struggle, I think, with the church and authority figures, in general. I realize I don't speak for everyone, but there is a huge leap for the abused child in recognizing patriarchial authority and what the church should mean. I'm not saying it right. I just think it's a leap I will never truly make in this life. I can only hang on and do the best I can with what I've got.

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  17. This is such a great concept. As a father, it makes me want to know my Father in Heaven's love more intimately so I can better convey it to my children.

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  18. Beautifully put. I said (wrote) something similar about my grandfather on the occasion of his 80th birthday. I have three dads–one biological and two steps–who have been good to me but not really present in my life. As I grew up, of course I resented that. But later I realized that Heavenly Father gave me what was lacking in my nuclear family through my extended family, and no one has demonstrated Heavenly Father's love more consistenyly than my Grandpa. I know it's so cheesy, but that song, "Because You Loved Me" captures my feelings for him and my grandma perfectly. I have to remind myself daily to create that feeling of security and confidence and unconditional love for my children.

    I hope you gave this to your dad…it's a wonderful tribute!

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  19. Thanks for taking the time to craft such beautiful sentiments. I have thought about that connection before and been grateful that in all the relationships we have on this earth we are able to learn more about our Heavenly Father. As we learn to care for, love, appreciate, and learn from others we begin to understand our connectedness to one another as His children.

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  20. So well written Brooke. It is really thought provoking thinking about our relationships with our fathers here on this earth and relating that to our relationship with our Father in Heaven. It really helps me realize the importance of being a kind and loving parent. It helps me see that by doing so, our children will be more willing and comfortable to build a relationship with their Heavenly Father having been given the tiniest vision of what it feels like to be loved unconditionaly by a parent. Thank you for such a beautifully written post.

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  21. Brooke,

    You really have a way describing and defining the feelings we've all had as we've experienced the close family relationships of our lives. Your writing seems to take us straight to our original feelings again.

    Thank you for the descriptions of your father and your memories of him when you were younger. I now have a picture in my mind of our Heavenly Father, watching over us all with strength, wisdom and gentle, loving concern for us as He "crinkles" the pages of the celestial newspaper He is reading, while His love stays strong and constant for us. This image helps to make Him that much more real to me.

    What a transcendant and beautiful thing the love of a parent can be, especially when it takes on a divine nature, like your father's love for you.

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  22. I am Brooke's earthly father. She is our 4th child……remembering back to when she was an infant, when i would hold her, even until she grew to the stage when she didn't want to be held, the tears would well up. I couldn't explain it then, only that somehow i was afraid she wouldn't be mine to keep for very long. That she would be taken back to heaven, that we wouldn't be allowed to keep her. She was just to pure to be here.
    And now here I find myself, a grandfather to her three children. Our Heavenly Father is too good to me.
    How blessed I have been to watch her grow into this lovely young woman who constantly keeps me in awe of her talent, and who so lovingly reminds us that we are indeed children of God.
    I love you, my Brooke.

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  23. Hi Brooke! This is truly a beautiful article you have written about your dad. How talented you are. I only remember you as a small child, but I can tell that you are an amazing daughter, mother and friend. I too know your dad and I can tell you that he really has a god-given temperament. He is so giving and kind and thinks of others all the time. He has been a really good friend to us and we cherish that friendship. "Thank you" for enlightening us on this subject and how it helps us relate to our Father In Heaven. You did a truly amazing job and I, for one, appreciate the reminder of how necessary and humbling it is to think about our Fathers in this way. Keep on writing. And Congratulations.

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  24. i didn't grow up with "a father". I was able to watch my husband become a father, and this whole business of parenting has given me experinces and some understanding of what our Father is heaven is. I mean, if I, just one little person, tucked away in a tiny corner of the world can love and hurt, and find such joy and heart ache in my children…
    i am beginning understand how Heavenly Father loves and cares for me. and (the light bub clicks on…..) and that was part of the plan, all along.

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  25. Fathers day today, so it's even more profound for me to read this, (finally, just one baby and I have zero time for myself) and think of how completely blessed I am Brooke. To have a best friend, life partner and co creator in your oldest brother, an amazing first son who is the most perfect crazy person I've ever met and an attachment to the honest, loyal, humble and loving spirit that is your dad, only a fool would take these for granted.
    Your detail of the qualities in papa Bill touch my heart as I'm reminded of the father my husband has become. And even more like his father Bill as he baby steps his way through fatherhood for the first time. Truly an undeniable wisdom in an almighty God that spit up, no sleep, crying, crying, poopy diapers and more crying could call attention on how complete my life is.
    I meditate on my daily givings and pray to Jehovah in reverence, awe and undeserved thankfulness for ALL that I have.
    Thank you Brooke for being part of my blessings and I cheer you for honoring your father is such a reflective and public way. To Bill Olsen I say, thank you for choosing Cherin, choosing fatherhood and choosing to love me and mine. Your spirit is one to be remembered for eternity.

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  26. Brooke
    You are amazing. It made me reflect back on my dad and I had that same feeling of being a child and feeling his love. It makes me want to always be around him so I can feel that love and protection that I remember as a child. I hope my children have the same feelings about their dad as I do.
    What a perfect article for this time of year, thanks!

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  27. i thought your writing was very insightful, brooke. what a great compliment to your dad and what a great analogy. our parent's, especially dad's, our to image our Heavenly Father. jackie

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