Years ago it was neckties, tie pins, and aftershave lotion. Nowadays, it may be software, jump drives, and gift cards. Regardless of whether you belong to the "years ago" crowd or the "nowadays" gang, each June presents us with new opportunities to present the same old gifts. The typical dad does not get all bubbly over gifts, which is probably why we present the same ones each year.
However, the typical dad deeply appreciates honor. Here are some creative ways to consider how to use your senses to honor your father on this month, next June, and the 11 months in between.
The sense of sound. In order to honor dad, you need to tune your ears keenly to hear the subtle and often disguised invitations for honor. For example, your dad may say, "Do you have my hammer?" A keenly tuned ear would hear, "Let's do this project together."
In a telephone call, your dad may say, "Hi." The same ear would hear, "It means a lot to talk to you today."
Honoring your dad through your sense of hearing is an important skill to develop. If we do not listen for these subtle invitations, we may miss many opportunities for honor. If we are trained to hear the message behind the words, though, we can respond effectively. We can respond in a way that anticipates his need and ministers to him right where he is.
It's not that hard, really. The key is realizing what you know about your dad and recognizing what you do not normally hear from your father. Many people know their dads love them, but many dads do not actually say those words. If your dad is one of those, then this skill will prove invaluable as you seek to return that love. Listen for times when saying "I love you" would be natural for you and identify what he actually says at that time. Chances are, regardless of what it is, it probably means "I love you." Developing a keen sense of sound can go a long way in bringing your dad honor.
The sense of smell. I grew up on the soccer field. I remember well the smells of cut grass and the chill of autumn. At most of my games, I had the privilege of having my father on the sidelines (even carrying the referee whistle at times.) Twenty years later, memories of times spent with my dad rush to my mind each time I smell the autumn.
For you, another smell may remind you of your father—the aroma of a certain restaurant or type of food, or the odor of gasoline and oil in a garage. Whatever the smell is, he probably has no clue of the smells that bring him to mind. Why not consider letting him in on it? Create some time together to enjoy the smells. Build new memories around those familiar scents. It doesn't sound like much but remember—dads don't typically need a marching band to feel honored. This subtle yet thoughtful sense of smell can go a long way in bringing your dad honor.
The sense of sight. Your father invested a couple of decades into your life. He has vested interest in what is happening with you. So take a moment and look around your life…is there anything happening he'd want to know about? We can get so caught up in our daily routines that we forget how much things continue to change: children grow, homes change, things happen.
Take a day and change nothing except your perspective. As you live out a single day's routine, just be observant. Ask yourself, "Would dad like to know about how Suzie is doing in school today?" "Would dad like to see a picture of how Tommy has changed since they last saw him?"
As you do this, I'm sure you'll find a bunch of little things that might be of interest to your dad. He might not ask about them, but that's okay. Use your vision to see his heart. Once you've spotted a few things for him to see, invite him over. If you're far away, take pictures and send them—not just your children, but report cards, home repairs, etc. Very few "big moments" occur in life. Sharing those are important, but that is not sharing life. Sharing your life with your dad requires a bunch of little, seemingly unimportant things. As you share these small sights, you'll begin to see your dad filling with honor as he gets regular glimpses into the pulse of your family. In this way, a clear sense of sight can go a long way in bringing your dad honor.
The sense of touch. Every family has a different culture for touching. In some families, hugging and touching is a very common, comfortable thing. In others, it so rarely happens that it feels a bit like running in concrete sneakers. Yet there are times when a touch can communicate more love and honor than words constructed by the greatest poet.
While their touch tolerance may vary, dads are not immune to the impact of touch. Seek to make some form of physical contact with your father each time you are with him. If hugging your dad is appropriate, be sure to do it. If not, perhaps a handshake will do. Put a hand on his shoulder or punch him in the arm. You know your dad. Make an appropriate choice and go for it.
At first, you may not see how this honors him. However, over time, as you develop a culture for touching and as you communicate your love for him in this way, it will minister in ways indescribable. Don't wait for the speechless moment in a hospital bed. Though you may not be able to see it now, developing a sense of touch can go a long way in bringing your dad honor.
The sense of taste. As you learn to communicate through speech to your father, strive to learn his tastes—his language. Speak it and listen in it. As you do, stand guard against some common "taste" traps.
- Bitterness – Words can have a sour twang to them. Don't let it happen. It is rare that a person regrets what went unsaid. However, many regret words that should never have been spoken. If you find bitterness on your tongue as you speak with your father, limit the amount of words. Find words that will taste sweet.
- Blandness – When you speak with someone who is not very wordy, there is a tendency to slip into a rote routine. You talk about football, the weather, and then you shift your conversation to mom. Don't let it happen. Ask your father questions that require more than a "yes" or "no" answer. Ask him to tell you of times before you were born. Spice up your conversation with substance and pay attention. When you do, you are bound to learn more than you thought.
Relationships have a taste to them. Father / child relationships are no different. You cannot dictate the total taste of your relationship with your dad. However, you can influence it. Be sure to check your sense of taste. Bring only that which will add to and not detract from the taste of your relationship. Doing so will go a long way to bringing your father honor.
The sixth sense: grace. We each grew up with different fathers. Some were wonderful and some were not. You may be reading this and may not be able to fathom how you could bring honor to your father. He may have been the cause of much pain. He may not have been there for you when you needed him. He may have up and abandoned you altogether.
In moments like those, we can thank God that we are not limited to our set of five senses. Because our God is a good God, He has given us what you might call a "sixth sense." When the other five fail us or fall short, we have this special gift from God to lean on in times of desperation.
Grace is expressed in the giving of a gift to an undeserving recipient. Because we were fallen and separated from God, we were completely undeserving of any relationship with Jesus Christ. However, by grace, God saved us. We are the undeserving recipient of the precious gift of salvation.
In turn, we have an opportunity to exercise similar grace toward those who are undeserving around us. When we remember how God has given us grace far beyond what we deserved, we are positioned to share that same grace with others. If your dad has been less than he should have been, that qualifies him for grace. When the other senses simply are not enough, don't forget to lean on your sixth sense. Don't forget to lean on grace. In times of struggle and hardship, when you have lost all your senses, grace still remains.
For more on this topic, listen to Dennis Rainey and guests talk about what it means to honor your father on a FamilyLife Today broadcast.
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