Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece” is the title song off her album of the same name. It’s an excellent album, but I may be biased as I’m a bit of a Kelly Clarkson fan. That said, this song struck me the first time I heard it and I knew I wanted to discuss it further. The lyrics can be reviewed here.
The song is about Kelly Clarkson herself and the love of two men in her life. First, her father – who abandoned her as a child and, as the song points out – only wanted to be in her life later on as an adult when she was wealthy and famous. He wouldn’t even walk her down the aisle at her wedding when she asked him, per the song. Her husband, however, is a father, loves her for her, and will never abandon them; per her lyrics. The lyrics say, “Piece by piece you [her husband] collected me / Up off the ground but you [her Dad] abandoned things / And piece by piece you filled the holes that you / Burned in me / At six years old and no / He never walks away / He never asks for money / He takes care of me / He loves me / Piece by piece / He restored my faith / That a man can be kind / And a father could stay.”
To be a good father, first you need to be present. We see that in the Bible over and over again. When I think of running away from responsibilities as Clarkson’s father did, I am first reminded of Jonah – who ran away from his responsibilities and tried to flee from the Lord. What did the Lord do? He brought Jonah back to complete what he was responsible for. He did it begrudgingly, but he did what the Lord asked of him. Clarkson’s father, according to the song, did not return back even begrudgingly to be restored as the father he was supposed to be. He remained absent. He remained away, seeking material gain in order to get back into her life. We as Christians are called to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), which quite frankly requires us to be present. I do not know the circumstances behind her father’s departure, but quite honestly it doesn’t matter. His responsibility was first with his children and he should not have fled. ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ is an old cliche. That doesn’t mean they flee from their difficulties – it means they get started on getting things done. That’s what parents have to do, period.
Biblically, we have guidance on how we are supposed to act as a father. A father is supposed to train up their child in the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). He is supposed to be loving and not provoke his children purposefully (Psalms 103:13, Ephesians 6:4). We as fathers also have additional guidance from Moses in Deuteronomy 6:1-9. We are to love the Lord our God above all else for our children’s and grandchildren’s sake, so they will know the Lord. Clarkson’s father was not that man, as he abandoned her. She views her husband as a man who will not falter, will not fail, will love her and their children perfectly. Not to insult him, he seems like a lovely person from everything I’ve seen – but he’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. He’s still human and therefore will fail at some point. All of us do. I know I do as a parent from time to time feel like a failure. And I am right to feel that way, because I am imperfect. Yet, there’s hope. For we do have a perfect father waiting for all of us who will never fail, never falter, and always be on our side. This our Heavenly Father, the Lord.
To emphasize this point about our perfect, Heavenly Father – I go to a piece I wrote on fatherhood in Angel Beats.
He knows what we have gone through as He lived as Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). He is ever present with us (Joshua 1:9, Psalms 23:4, Psalms 139:7-10) and dwells within those who have accepted Him as Lord (1 Corinthians 3:16). He knows all that we needs and is ready to provide for those needs (Matthew 6:8, Matthew 6:26). He will be our Father, if we accept Him and embrace what He is offering us through Christ Jesus…In Luke 15:11-32, Christ tells a tale of a lost son. When we read the story, most of us focus on the prodigal son – he’s relatable and we see the sinful man falling down and begging as he returns home. We understand that we are like that son, rebellious and acting against our Father in Heaven’s wishes. But when we only look there – we miss the important part of the story. We have a Father in Heaven who is ready to embrace us, who is ready to love us in spite of our past actions. He’s doing all the work. He’s coming to us and dwelt among us as Christ Jesus. He sacrificed Himself on the cross to save us. He did that because of His undying love for us. He is the better Father, far better than any father we have on Earth.
While it is great that Clarkson now has a dependable husband who loves her the way she needs to be loved, she must remember – all people are imperfect. We do, however, have a perfect Heavenly Father who will pick up all the pieces of our broken lives. He will repair us to the version He intended us to be. He is still doing a good work in us. Thank the Lord for our Perfect Father in Heaven. May all of us parents strive to be more like Him.