THANK GOD FOR FATHERHOOD
When Father’s Day rolls around I’m going to be thinking about Greg.
Not because he’s the world’s best or most experienced father. As this is being written, Greg has officially been a father for a grand total of 29 hours. But in that long day-plus-five-hours of fatherhood he has experienced:
! the wondrous thrill of childbirth;
! the overwhelming joy of holding his first child for the first time;
! the distinctive distress induced by doctors when they say they “just want to run a few tests;”
! and a whole assortment of confusing, frightening developments that saw his little family make an emergency trip to a renowned pediatric hospital some 200 miles away from home.
Let’s see: thrills, joy, distress, confusion and fear.
Yep. That about covers it as far as fatherhood is concerned.
Watching Greg respond to the sudden rush of fatherly functions and feelings as a strong-willed little girl named Kiley entered his life – ailing lungs and all – I couldn’t help but flash forward to the future, years after her successful surgery, when he will feel many of the same things he’s feeling today – but for decidedly different reasons.
Like the thrill he will feel every time Kiley greets him with arms extended and an excited, delighted smile on her face – even when that face is smudged with grape jelly. Or the joy that will come when he sees her making tough decisions based upon the values he has worked so hard to teach her. Or the concern he will feel when he sends her off to school for the first time. Or on her first slumber party. Or to her first driving lesson. Or on her first date.
Or the confusion that will inevitably come when he looks into her eyes and sees that suddenly, he isn’t the most important man in the world to her.
And then there’s the fear: fear for her safety; fear that she won’t know how to cut up her meat when she eats school lunch; fear that she won’t find enough friends; fear that she will find too many of the WRONG friends; fear that she will try too hard; fear that she won’t try hard enough; fear that she won’t ever find a man who is good enough for her; fear that she will.
Of course, there are also other emotions that go along with being a father, including pride (“You did it!”), anger (“You did WHAT?”) and frustration (“How many times have I told you not to do that!”). But more than anything else, being a father means caring, nurturing and loving. Greg has already felt that, standing beside Kiley’s cradle in the hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit, her little hand tightly griping his finger. He’ll feel the same thing at home each night as he kneels at her bedside to tuck in his peaceful, slumbering child. And if my own experience is any indication, he’ll continue to feel it, ever stronger, throughout the various seasons of her life, even when the day comes that she has children of her own.
Parenthood is life’s greatest privilege and its most profound responsibility. It is God’s way of giving us a glimpse of His perspective and priorities. This coming Father’s Day Greg will have a better understanding of God’s love for His children because this Father’s Day Greg is a father.
~ © Joseph B. Walker
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