Here I am, celebrating this special day of dadding by hanging out with my family in our mini-van for 13 hours on the way back from North Carolina! Exotic, you say? Well, yes, the endless construction and low, low speed limits of SE Ohio are quite lovely. And although being pampered on a giant recliner throne while enjoying my favorite food and entertainment might seem preferable, it’s probably better for me to be here in the honest, real-life family world to truly appreciate the honest, real-life privileges of being a dad. Here’s how I would summarize without any Facebook fabrication…
1. Father’s Day isn’t always fun
No, I’m not talking about the van ride; the kids are actually doing quite well, hallelujah! But on this very weekend, both a friend and family member of mine just endured another anniversary of their fathers’ premature deaths. And for several years, I repeatedly endured Father’s Days wanting to be a dad but not being able to for many reasons. There are so many people like us out there, maybe you, a loved one, or the person you just walked by or talked to. Every holiday has its hard times, and it’s important to be sensitive to them and to those you may not even know are in them when you celebrate. You have no idea how much that helps! Thanks on behalf of us all.
2. Sometimes kids drive you absolutely nuts, but the rest of the time you cherish them like you’ve never cherished anyone else.
And it’s so worth it! To those without kids yet, don’t believe any parents who portray their child (or their parenting) as perfect or perpetually pleasant. But you usually can believe them when they tell you they’d do anything for that child in a time of need. I could never have told you how far I would go for my boys before I had them, and my boys will never know that until they have their own kids either. In fact, it’s the perseverance and sacrifice parents exert when their child is being a super stinker (like one of mine is starting to be right now) that proves this unique love more than anything else (Click to tweet). And it’s the many times you get to hug and kiss your child and never want to let them go when you can enjoy this unique love more than anytime else!
3. When you learn to be a dad, you learn about your Dad
It’s so intriguing to me how God’s words—and especially those of Jesus—remind us that we’re really eternally meant to be brothers and sisters, not moms and dads. Obviously, the biological family unit was intended to—and does—exist for crucial support and stability, but its transiently earthly biblical nature seems primarily purposed to teach us about the true forever family we were created for: being brothers and sisters of Christ with God the Father, our perfect parent. This is why I so often catch myself teaching my kids with words that God probably uses even more often to teach me (Click to tweet). Truths like “Trust me, I know and want what’s best for you.” or “If only you’d obey me, life would be so much easier.”. There’s a good reason God calls his people his children, and we can understand what he thinks about us as we think the same about our kids.
4. You don’t choose your kids, you choose to love your kids.
This is applicable on two different levels. First, you seldom know the circumstances that will surround your children when they begin their existence. Maybe he comes to you through adoption like ours, with all kinds of unknowns in his family history. Maybe she is an unplanned pregnancy. Maybe he has complex health or developmental considerations. Maybe she started as someone else’s child, and now she’s yours through marriage. Maybe…well, lots of things! Even in the most planned, controlled scenario, your child will throw you curveballs you don’t choose. But you—more than anyone else—must choose to love them. Some kids are tougher than others, none of us do it perfectly, and help is often needed, but it’s one of the most important choices you’ll ever make. Second, God gets all sorts of kids too, as he adopts into his family whoever wants to be a part of it through Jesus, and he deals with a huge variety of complications he didn’t choose. But he does choose to love his kids through all their difficulties, and on this Father’s Day, I appreciate that perhaps the most. Thanks Dad.
And of course, I’d be pretty foolish to forget my other father who has shown me many of these things himself through his own cherishing, teaching, and choosing to love me. You’re the man dad, and so incredibly well deserving of my gratitude!
Alright, only 4 hours to go, and the kiddos are content and happy…this IS a great Father’s Day!