It’s Fathers Day. I’ve celebrated with my Dad the blessings he has brought into my life. Now I’m doing an honest assessment of who I have been as a father to my four children. I want to steer clear of a depressive pity party as well as a manic recounting of my amazing moments. Just remember. The good along with the not-so-good.
I was not prepared to be a father. Is anyone? But when they handed me my bundled baby girl, my heart melted. I was as grateful to God as I have ever been. The prospect that this child was mine filled me with delight as well as desperation. How would I provide for her? What if I screw up? Who the hell did God think I was to deserve such a blessing?
It’s been over 26 years now since that glorious day and here are three things I think I’ve done well:
First, I have cultivated in my children a love of learning. When they were growing up, I didn’t have as much money to buy the ton of books I would like to have in order for them to explore all facets of life through the written and illustrated word. So, I went weekly to three libraries which each had a lending limit of 50 books. I was my children’s bookmobile. And watching their eyes light up as I read to them or they read to themselves, was worth every gallon of gas my Honda CRX consumed.
Second, I have fostered faith in my children. I did this not because I was a pastor, but in spite of it. It can be damn hard to be a pastor’s kid. They were expected to constantly demonstrate model behavior. Know all the right moral answers. Be missionaries to other children so their parents wouldn’t have to bother with raising them in faith. Somehow, in the midst of this pressure cooker, our children became four of the most uniquely faithful Christians I’ve ever known.
And third, I have sparked in my children to courage to question. Even though I sometimes became exasperated, I loved the question “Why?” When one of my daughters wanted to get her ears pierced, I was not in favor of it. But I didn’t know quite why. Instead of giving her a simple yes or no answer, I asked her to write an essay with at least three Scriptural references that supported her desire. She did. And got her ears pierced.
I was going to write more in this post, detailing three or more ways I have failed as a father. Instead, I want to look forward. I want to include three things I hope to do with my grandchildren that I didn’t do so much with my children.
First, I want to play with them. I want to hear them yell out through their laughter, “Push me up to the sky, Grandpa.”
Second, I want to travel with them. I want to go on trips that will be adventures for them to remember for a lifetime.
And third, I want to share family stories that will encourage them, inspire them, lift them up when they are down.
I don’t keep as much memorabilia as some parents, but one thing I carry with me wherever I go is a card with a photo of one of my daughters. It reads, “Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a Daddy.”
Happy Daddy Day!