Growing up, Fathers’ Day in our household was always a flurry of activity. We would start the day by preparing a “best Dad ever” breakfast in bed consisting of scrambled eggs, bacon, and nearly burnt toast, followed by a hike or a picnic at a nearby park. The day would usually end with us excitedly presenting Dad with a card containing our best stick-figure drawing of our family. On the card, we would write, “Happy Fathers’ Day, thank you for being the best Dad in the world”.
When I was young, I didn’t think much about writing those words in crayon on a hand-made card, but as my relationship with my father evolved, I’ve started to think about what the title ‘best Dad in the world’ actually means to me. This relationship has taken years of building: of listening, of acceptance, of sacrifice, of priorities being tested and awkward but important conversations we have had. Watching my dad live his life has had a great impact on the way that I live mine. He has shown me what it means to love his family, trust deeply in God’s timing, and to live a life of faith.
One of my fondest memories growing up is going to the clubhouse at Nanyang Polytechnic Dad’s workplace then) during our school holidays. As kids, all my sisters and I knew days of “playtime with Dad!” We also had many picnics with our extended family on the vast fields within the campus. What we didn’t see was my dad’s selflessness at that time — he was due for a promotion at his previous job, but this meant travelling almost every other week for work. He chose to give up that promotion for a lecturing post to be based in Singapore and to spend more time with us. As a young working professional with dreams and ambitions, I now have a glimpse of how complex that decision must have been. It brings to mind Matthew 6:21 — For where your treasure is, where your heart will be also. Trusting that God would open doors in His time and provide for the five of us, he showed us what sacrifice meant, and also how much we meant to him.
How my dad trusted God dutifully with the jobs he has held through the years is also a huge testament of his faith. One of his lifelong dreams was to start his own engineering company, to develop solutions for customers where he saw a gap in the market. However, when God closed that door, Dad took a leap of faith and studied to become a counsellor, realising that whatever profession he was in, listening and helping people is his passion. He heeded God’s calling to be a pastor, and I have seen how God has led him to be in the position he is today, and he has obediently responded. His actions embody one of my favourite verses to date,
“… And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…”Hebrews 12:1-2
By living a life of faith, he has encouraged me to trust deeply in God’s timing and His plan on earth for us.
Despite all these changes which were taking place in his life, Dad always made time for the quiet, mundane moments in our relationship, and was always there for me. During my junior college years, when I took up four co-curricular activities and had to be in school most mornings before 5.30am, Dad would wake up earlier than me to send me all the way to the gate. On the journey, we would talk about everything — life, stresses, fulfilment, happiness. These conversations with my dad, simple as they may have been, shaped my mentality during my growing years. His commitment to waking up early and taking the time to listen and talk to me made me feel very supported through school, and opened up my world view to things beyond academics or studies, such as how to live, what to live for, and what makes living worthwhile.
These days, we have conversations while I cut his hair. I am thankful that we get to spend small pockets of time together, and that he trusts my YouTube haircutting skills. It feels like a reversal of roles — the father who took care of me for 20-odd years now seeks my help in return. As I comb through his greying sideburns and notice the wrinkles that cluster at the side of his eyes from years of laughter, I cannot help but think about how blessed we are that we have each other, and how precious our time is together.
This Fathers’ day, may you remember all the mundane and happy moments you have had with your own father, and thank him for the sacrifices (knowingly or unknowingly to you) he has made. Remember to give him a hug and strike up a conversation with him — you may discover stories about his life you have not heard before. I end off with words from Edgar Guest’s poem “Only A Dad”:
Only a dad, but he gives his allEdgar Guest
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen,
Only a dad, but the best of men.
by Venezia Lim