Happy Father’s Day!

We have heard this sentiment every 3rd Sunday in June for as long as we all can remember.

Happy Juneteenth!

This sentiment is now becoming more widely heard as President Biden approved Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021.

On Father’s Day, we celebrate and honor all whom we look to as fathers for everything they do and for everything they are. Juneteenth is a chance to celebrate the freedom of African Americans from slavery, as it commemorates the last group of enslaved African Americans being freed by federal troops in Texas, over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

As I reflect on both of these significant holidays falling on the same day this year, I am reminded of the unique intersections of my own family, those I call “dad” and what Juneteenth means to me.

My father is African American and my first memory of Juneteenth was in elementary school in St. Mary’s County when my parents took my brother and me to a Juneteenth celebration. On the same day, we happened to meet people with our last name, my maiden name, of Butler who were not African American but were white. That day I remember being proud of who my dad was, someone who always reaches back into his family history to inform his future and is passionate about seeking out those in our family line regardless of their racial identity. I learned about sacrifice and overcoming from my dad. His sacrifice and provision for my family have always pointed me towards how much more Christ loves all of us with the ultimate sacrifice of His life. I want to love my children as my dad loves me, and I am forever grateful for the lessons I have learned from him.

I have another person whom I call dad by the name of Pastor Mich, P. Mich, or as he is listed in my contacts: “Pop Mich.” He is my father-in-law, or as I have heard some say, father-in-love (which I love). He has also shown me countless valuable lessons about character, authenticity, and generosity. I have experienced the nature of his character through how he raised his son, Cody Michener, my husband of three years. The character of intentionality, goodness, and compassion shines through the men who have come behind my father-in-love and is hard to miss. His dedication to being authentic, vulnerable, and approachable is like none other, and the lessons of generosity that I have seen from him will never leave me. Although this dad is not African American, as a white man, he has also stepped up to bring a significance to what Juneteenth means to me through his steadfast commitment to learning, appreciating, celebrating, honoring, and uplifting those who have been oppressed. He is a brother in Christ to many who do not look like him and is a dad to a daughter who does not look like him.

So I’ve told you about the two people I call dad, but there is one more that many of us call on, and that is our Heavenly Father. For me when I think about the intersections of race and fatherhood, I am reminded of our Heavenly Father who is the ultimate dad and giver of freedom. Whether your earthly fathers were present or not, whether they loved well or not at all, we have access to a Heavenly Father who does not change like shifting shadows as the song “Father of Lights” says. He is always there, always loving you, always having a plan for you even when you can’t see it, and always giving you freedom.

Have you experienced the freedom of God yet? Have you experienced His fatherly love? Freedom and love can be hard to come by on earth. For African Americans, freedom from slavery did not mean freedom from oppression, and love from our country and its people was scarce. Nevertheless, even in the midst of oppression, we all have the option to tap into the love and freedom given to us by God in every circumstance. Accept that love today and be reminded of the goodness of the ultimate dad, our Heavenly Father.


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