Some men, like my dad, are skilled with fences. Many of us may not realize it, but fences teach us invaluable lessons about everyday life. Basically, fences are designed to keep things in and to keep things out. Fences protect and redirect. To me, fences and fathers are a welcomed blend of safety and security. From my perspective, fences and fathers deserve more appreciation.

Parting the Barriers

One of my favorite memories of growing up in the rural Midwest is my tagging along with my father to hunt for pheasants and quail. Occasionally, we needed to cross through some barbed wire fences. No problem with Dad as my chaperone. He always approached the barbed wire strands first. With one work boot, Dad held down the lowest strand, and with one hand he lifted the strand above. Then he’d nod for me to dip down and slide through.

Some men hold doors, my dad held fences. Dad parted the sharp, barbed wires to make a way of passage for me. We all need someone to make a way for us at times. Someone to part the barriers that hold us back so we can slip through and keep going.

Standing Sturdy

I also learned at an early age the importance of fixed, upright fence posts. I’ve witnessed how sagging barbed wire lures livestock to escape and roam into neighbors’ cornfields. And I’ve snagged my shirt and jeans on many a droopy strand of fence wire when I tried to sneak through wire fences on my own.

I’ve helped my dad and brothers dig postholes and secure fence posts as earth is packed firmly around the base of the post. There’s a real sense of accomplishment in scanning down a line of tall, immovable fence posts. In our dizzying world today, it is tough to stand sturdy on our own.

King David learned this especially during his exiled years in the Judean wilderness. Hunted by hostile Saul, David cried out to God, “I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post” (Psalm 63:8, The Message ). Thanks Dad for helping me value holding “steady as a post” no matter how intense the winds of change or pressure gets.

Making a Way Through

When my two brothers and I were in grade school, our father re-engineered the wired fence around the mini pasture behind our house. The fence was a demarcation line between our town’s grade school and our property.

Dad cut a hole in the fence and designed a wooden step to fit inside the opening. On our walk home from school, we could take a shortcut by using the wooden step to lift us through the cutout fence so we could plop safely on the other side.

Decades later as an adult, I asked my Dad about why he built that stepping bench for the fence. He smiled and quickly replied, “Well, I also built it so when the ball on the playground bounced over the fence, you school kids could just crawl over and get it.”

Ingenious, Dad. Thank you. I love the analogy here of how each of us at times needs a way through and help when (the ball) or life gets away from us. 

There are countless lessons that come from simple wire and posts. Mending fences. Tearing down fences. But this Father’s Day weekend, I’m going swing for the fences in saluting all the men in my life who remind me that at times, we all need:

  • Someone to part the barriers that hold us back.
  • The value of holding “steady as a post”.
  • A way through and help when (the ball) or life gets away from us.