Not the Father’s Day You Hoped For.

As Father’s Day is quickly approaching – this Sunday for those who are unaware – many people find themselves enthralled in feelings of love and adoration as they celebrate the Dad figure in their lives; however, many people also struggle with feelings of sadness or overwhelming anger because of what this day represents in either the death of a father or a father who was less than ideal or downright crappy. If you are in this latter camp,  Todd Cartmell, author of 8 Simple Tools offers a few suggestions that might help in making this Father’s Day a little less painful. 

For many, Father’s Day includes a “dad” gift (code for a bad necktie or a grilling utensil), a fun family activity, and perhaps a phone call, if dad lives farther away. However, as time passes on, some of us find that Father’s Day can carry a more somber meaning. The death of a father or child (my dad passed away six years ago), or relationships that have become estranged due to divorce or family conflict can turn this day of celebration into a day of sadness and remorse.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are a couple ideas that might help:

1) Surrender the situation to God. Allow God to comfort you, as you experience feelings of sadness, frustration, or even remorse. Pour out your heart to him; after all, he gave you the ability to feel those exact feelings. Remember that the one who has infinite wisdom understands your situation perfectly and cares about it deeply.

2) Watch for God’s hand in your situation. While it may seem difficult to imagine, God specializes in healing those who are hurt and in bringing something good out of something painful, in his own time. Be attentive to ways that God may put on your heart initiate reconciliation or to show his love to others who are hurting.

Father’s Day can mean something different to each of us, but we have a loving heavenly Father who did not even shield himself from grief, and promised to walk with us through our most difficult moments.

TODD CARTMELL is a child psychologist who practices in Wheaton, Illinois. He received his doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary and is the author of several parenting books, including 8 Simple Tools. His parenting workshops have been enjoyed by thousands of parents throughout the country. Visit Dr. Todd’s website at www.drtodd.net and follow him on Facebook.

How The Church Can Care for the Childless

I’m excited to have Chelsea Patterson Sobolik offering a guest post today about being sensitive to the needs of the childless mothers.  She has also graciously given me a copy of her book Longing for Motherhood to give away to one reader.  To be entered, simply comment on this post.  I will draw a winner on May 24th.

 

Sitting in the pews of every church are men and women struggling with the excruciating pain of childlessness. For some, it might be infertility, trying month after month with no success, to finally get pregnant. For others, it might be a miscarriage, the death of their precious anticipated little one that’s left them heartbroken. Regardless of the particular circumstances, the trial of childlessness is one of the most difficult and devastating that someone can experience. Living in the nightmare that is infertility cuts to the very core of the way humanity was designed. One of the first commandments the Lord gave Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply. When a couple struggles to bear babies, they can quickly feel guilt and shame over their inability to fulfill that commandment.

I’m all too familiar with the ache to be a mother, but natural motherhood won’t come. With a tear stained face, I’ve entered into the greatest wrestling match of my life with the Lord. “God, I don’t understand!” I’ve cried out in prayer. “You’ve placed this longing on my heart, only to leave me with an unfulfilled desire!” Over the years, I’ve shared the cries of my heart with close friends and trusted companions at my church, as they’ve helped me walk through my sorrow.

The Church is God’s household, filled with God’s children. It should be a beacon of comfort and hope. A place where people will feel cared for, heard, understood and unconditionally loved. Christians know that they will face trials, and they must be armed and equipped to care for the wounded and the hurting among the Saints. Below are a few suggestions for pastors, elders, and church members on how to care for the childless in your congregations.

Remind People that Grief is Godly

Those grieving childlessness are grieving a dream deferred. Proverbs 13:12 tells us that hope deferred makes the heart sick. Come alongside the childless and grieve with them. Remind them that it’s okay to feel the hurt, pain and loss. That they don’t have to quickly “get over” their sorrow, but they have a Savior who’s well acquainted with grief, and was the man of all sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). Encourage them to take their grief, and press into the arms of the Beloved who knows their pain.

Preach Good Sermons

Make it a point to regularly incorporate the childless into sermons. Remember that the Bible is full of women that have struggled with the longing to be a mother. (Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth) Dive into these passages, and preach Gospel-centered sermons that will encourage the souls of the weary.

Pray With and on Behalf of the Childless

David was bold in his prayers before the Lord. He knew where to take his questions, his grief, his pain, and his longings – straight into the heart of his Father. Prayer should should be the first thing Christians do with and on behalf of the childless. In the Psalms, we see that David’s most trusted companion and friend was the Lord, but we also see that David wasn’t afraid of sharing exactly what was on his mind and heart. In Psalm 13, he bluntly asks the Lord how long he’ll have to suffer. David felt forgotten, and bent the ear of the Lord in his sorrow and frustration.

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2)

Hannah, a woman who intimately knew the pain of infertility, wasn’t shy to bring her pain and tears before the Lord in prayer. The Bible says that “she was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.” Hannah’s prayers were so fervent that Eli, the priest thought she was drunk.

We should take the charge to weep with those who weep seriously and come alongside the suffering with words of comfort and truth. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Point Their Eyes To The Lord

The most important thing the church can do is redirect the gaze of the childless to Christ. Give them room to grieve the loss of their dream, or the loss of their baby. Please don’t feel the need to swoop in, and slap Bible verses on their suffering. Yes, the word of God is inspired and inherent, but shouldn’t be viewed or used as a quick fix. Learn how to sit with someone in their grief, and how to gently point their eyes to the Lord in the midst of their trials. One of the most comforting verses in the bible is found in Revelation 21:4, where the Lord promises to wipe away every tear from our eyes. Until that day, remember that the Lord is present as each tear falls. Suffering is inevitable while we live in a fallen world, but may we ensure that no one suffers alone.

Chelsea Patterson Sobolik is the author of Longing for Motherhood, and has worked for the U.S. House of Representatives on issues such as child welfare, religious freedom, adoption, and foster care policy. Chelsea was adopted as a newborn from Bucharest, Romania, grew up in North Carolina, and then graduated from Liberty University. She and her husband Michael live in Washington, D.C.

Written by Chelsea Patterson Sobolik author of Longing for Motherhood, Moody Publishers 2018