I’ve been a parent for slightly over two years now, if you count the time before I got married as “parenting” time. In my mind, it does count, because I felt very soon after meeting my wife that she was going to be “it” for me. I knew she had a son, and that if I was going to be with her, that son would become as much my child as if I had been there at the “beginning.”
Becoming Dad to a boy that’s already had a good deal of the man he will become instilled in him has not been easy. His grandpa has been a tremendous and amazing influence on him, and my wife has taught him all she knows how to teach about being a good boy, and how to love people the way God loves them.
So when I entered the picture, it was a little bit like hitting the ground running. I feel like I really stepped in it much of the time with him, because I find myself speaking out of my own upbringing more often than not, and Lord knows there were a few issues there.
Even with that, though, we moved along in our relationship, and now I love that kid like I raised him from ground zero. But I guess in a sense, I did.
Our ground zero began when I fell in love with his mother, and realized I wanted to spend all the time I had left with her.
And then David had to break in a dad that had never been one before, which was (and remains) quite difficult for the both of us at times. So I’m learning as I go, and he’s learning as he goes. And I find myself feeling like he’s getting the short end of the stick a lot of the time. But I am also so thankful that he came into my life, and that I get a chance to know him, and to be his dad.
Now, John is here. I was here from the beginning with him. And when I saw him come out of my wife and enter the world, it was like nothing else I’d ever experienced. I just remember thanking God over and over again for bringing him into my life, and for getting my wife safely through the birth.
The past month, with all of us finally together in our home has been incredible, and such a blessing, even with all the difficulty, and all the “getting used to things” Jenny, David, John and I have all had to do.
There have been some moments of late when I consider the…responsibility I now have and it intimidates the heck out of me. I need to lead this family. I, who has not led anything, needs to lead a family.
My sons will look to me for so much, and not just to put a roof over their head. They will look to me to see how a man relates to his wife, and his children. They’ll want to know how he responds to blessings, and trials, and how he worships the God he professes to know. They’ll want to know a man’s attitude toward his work, and his church.
So even when I feel like burying my head somewhere well out of view of the world, I have to be transparent enough that they can see I’ve gone through some of the same stuff they have, and can hopefully offer them some small amount of wisdom.
And then I wonder what on earth I can do? I’m just a man. Not a pastor, not a teacher. At this point, not even a college graduate?
So what can I do?
I can love their mother with all I have, and let them see.
I can love them, each as individuals, and let them see.
I can love people, and let them see.
And above all else, I can love God—love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind, and let them see.
I think I have to start with that, and hope they do not judge me later on for the father I haven’t been. Rather, that they love me for the dad I am.
Because I love my sons so much that I end up just staring at them sometimes, wondering why I’ve been blessed, when there are so many wonderful and worthy people that have not been. I think about what the next couple of weeks hold, too, and I am amazed. This Saturday night, I get to baptize David. And soon after that, we’ll do a dedication of John. Our whole immediate family will get up there, and declare openly what God means to us, and to our family. Hopefully, John will one day choose to be baptized himself.
And you know, I can really get into the sentimentality of a couple of those sappy rock songs about parenthood now, too. Like “Heaven,” by Live. “With Arms Wide Open,” by Creed. Of course, both songs have become clichés by now. I didn’t understand and accept why until I was a parent. Until God made me a dad.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Now go look up those songs…