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Column: A father when all other fathers fail

Last week at work — I work at Love In the Name of Christ — we had a visit from several people from other Love INC affiliates in the area. It was a great time to get together to discuss our jobs — how we handle similar situations, how we set policies, etc.

We spent a few minutes at the start in an icebreaker. The purpose of icebreakers, of course, is to get to know each other. You may be familiar with the game we played. It’s called “Two Truths and a Lie.”

I love this game.

I know, that seems a little weird, as I don’t advocate lying. But it’s fun to fool people from time to time. To play, you share with the group two things that are true about you and one thing that is made up and then the group guesses which one of the three things is the lie.

Ready? Ok. Here’s my three things:

1) I have flown in a helicopter. 2) I have flown in a hot air balloon. 3) I have flown in a biplane.

Can you guess? I have written about the fact that my father was a pilot. So you may be able to guess based on that information. But if a person — or group of people — don’t know me, they wouldn’t have that advantage.

The truth is, I have flown in a helicopter. (With my Dad as the pilot. So cool and so proud!) I have flown in a biplane. (With my dad’s friend as the pilot. Which was amazing, by the way.) I have never flown in a hot air balloon.  

Did you guess correctly?

I thought about sharing this story with you all today because it is, of course, Father’s Day weekend. I was then going to carry on about my dad and how great he is. But just before I sat down to write this morning, I read something that changed my mind.

I have a friend from high school who runs two daycare centers in a big city. This is what she posted on Facebook on Friday morning: “Let me get myself together for the awful stories today. The children are completing Father’s Day gifts. Probably 25 percent of them will talk sadly or indifferent about not having a daddy, hardly ever seeing their daddy, missing a daddy or WANTING a daddy. While the rest speak of their wonderful daddies like they walk on water … and the others look on in amazement.”

I read that and all I could do was gulp back the tears.

So I give you today’s “Two Truths and a Lie”: 1) I have an amazing Dad. He’s there for me. He loves me. He loves my mom and cares for her daily. In two months they will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. 2) I have an amazing heavenly father, too. He is there for me. He loves me. He will never stop. He loves you, too. 3) My dad walks on water.

Ha. Trick lie. Yes, my heavenly father can walk on water. My earthly dad, not so much. Not even metaphorically. My dad is not perfect. But wow, am I thankful for him and all that he has been in my life and I love him dearly.

So many kids and adults cannot say that about their dads or their husbands or the father of their children. On this Father’s Day weekend, let’s give credit where credit is due. But let’s also be aware that for many, there is no credit to give.

So it is to you, if that’s the category you find yourself in, that I especially give this verse: “I will be a Father to you,  and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18 NIV

Your earthly dad may have failed at his job as a father. Your heavenly father never will.

Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is