Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of 'Father' in Vain

This Father's Day blog post was written by OSSO's founder, Rex Head.

"Thou shalt not take the name of Father in vain." Did you realize that was one of the Ten Commandments? I will admit, I paraphrased it a little ... but only a little.

In Exodus it says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in Vain.” What name does the Lord thy God choose to go by most commonly? Father.

Have you been guilty of taking the name "father" in vain? I have and it stung.

There is a young woman I know, who was in orphanages since she was a little girl, who I have visited often. I will call her Marta in this story for the cause of anonymity. Marta ran away from the orphanage life to seek her fortune when she was about 14 years old. Sadly, instead of a fortune, she found herself as a single mom with debts, no food, no money, and no job.  

I spent a day trying to help Marta with her situation. In an effort to avoid misunderstandings to potential employers and the like, she would explain to different people we met that I had known her for years and was like a father to her. I felt flattered and a little uncomfortable at first when she said that; but, apparently, I got used to the puffed-up way it made me feel because, at the end of the day, I told a nun whom we were talking to that Marta was like a daughter to me.

When the nun left the room, I noticed Marta was crying. I asked, “What’s wrong?”

She said, “Nothing, I’m okay.”

“I don’t believe you. I can tell something is wrong,” I continued.

She blinked back the tears and with a slight edge of defiance in her voice said, “You can’t say you are like a father to me. You have not earned that right.”

“But that’s what you say. So I thought ...”

“My father abandoned me as a little girl and has never done anything for me. You have known me for years and have always tried to help me. I know you love me. You are helping me now and will help me when you come back. You are the closest thing I have ever had to a father and I appreciate that. I like the way it feels to call someone father.”

She paused for a moment. Then, the defiance melted and she looked at me and with tears running down her face and said, “I have seen how tender and protective you are with your daughters. You have spent all day helping me. Today I have felt like I had a father for a few hours and that my baby had a grandfather. But you are flying to your home tomorrow to be with your real daughters and I will be an orphan again. I don’t know what you would do if I was your real daughter but I can imagine.”

Rex with a family friend

That was more than 10 years ago. I have seen Marta many times since then and she is now doing very well. She is a loving mother to three kids and has a husband who adores her, a nice house, and even a nice car. She always invites me to her house to eat, but I never call her my daughter. I have not earned that right.

My wife and I have six children and, in a genetic and legal sense, I have earned the right to go by the name of father with a lower-case "f." 

The right to strive to be like Father with a capital "F" has nothing to do with genetics or laws, but I did inherit that potential from Him. I will try to not use His name in vain with those He gives me to care for.