From Grief to Gratitude on Father’s Day

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  • From Grief to Gratitude on Father’s Day
  • Tomorrow – Father’s Day – will mark 23 years to the day since my father died.

    The past several years, Father’s Day has been a downer for me. My wife and children have been kind, generous, and understanding. I appreciate it. But I have missed my dad around this time. I also think that being on the other side of the country, disconnected from my roots in Los Angeles, has exasperated my feelings of sadness.

    This year is different.

    I approach this coming Father’s Day with gratitude, rather than grief.

    The Lord blessed me to have a great dad. I only had him for sixteen years. But I it seems like it was several lifetimes.

    I was converted to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ under my father’s preaching. My father baptized me as a follower of Christ. He taught me to love the Lord Jesus, the church, and the word of God. By example and instruction, he also taught me how to study and preach the Bible.

    I inherited my love for books from my father. He spent a good portion of every day reading. This was true to the very end of his life. He was a lifelong student. I was only able to get a handful of my father’s books from his library (long story). But at this point in my life, I probably have more books than he did. He would be proud.

    My father taught me to be a man. He was strong. At the same time, he was a tender man. He had an intimidating presence. But he treated everyone he met like a long lost friend. He was stubborn. Yet he knew how to admit when he was wrong. He loved clothes and was always sharply dressed (I did not get that gene.). But I cannot count how many times I saw him give clothes away, often before he had the opportunity to wear them.

    I often talk about my father in a way that makes it seem like he was perfect. He was far from it. I saw my father make galactic mistakes. And I only saw a sixteen-year slice of his life. Yet I even learned from his mistakes. More specifically, I learned from how I saw him respond to his mistakes. He taught me how to humbly say, “I was wrong.”

    I am additionally grateful that my father named me H.B. Charles, Jr. (Yes, that’s my real name.) I have not always been grateful for this mixed blessing. You can’t imagine how much I was teased about my name as a boy (or how much I am still asked about it to this day). I determined that as soon as I was eighteen, I would legally change my name. However, by the time I was eighteen, my father was in heaven. And I considered it the greatest of honors to carry his name. May my son, H.B. Charles III, feel the same way as grows into manhood.

    So by God’s grace, I look forward to Father’s Day 2012. And I thank the Lord with all my heart for blessing me to be the son of Dr. H.B. Charles, Sr.

    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.