Today is Thomas’s third birthday, I have now been a dad for five and half years. This is a sweet time in life, when my boys still think everything I say is gospel and they still want hugs, bedtime books and stories, and nighttime cuddles. It is a real joy to spend so much time with them and to share so much love with them. They each have special kisses just for me and they, of course, inhabit a special room in my heart.
Being a dad has helped me greatly in my pursuit of God (or perhaps I ought to say in accepting His pursuit of me). There are so many verses about how God sees us as his children and stories of fathers and sons that I can now understand, or maybe just understand in a different way that makes sense for me now.
The number one thing being a father has taught me is how grace really works. First off, a child can make me more angry than an adult can. A child can cause such high blood and yet within minutes they are over it. My heart is still pounding, my grudge might just be getting into its full swing and the child tries to hand me a toy and says “you wanna play with me?” The instantaneous nature of that turnaround never ceases to amaze me. I guess it’s the polar opposite of the long seething battles I can expect from teenagers. I also guess, that is in many ways how Jesus works, he gets over it and wants us to eat a feast with him, probably faster than we get over our own transgressions. I think we likely beat ourselves up much longer than Jesus does (though that might cheapen the cross, I’m not sure).
The other way fatherhood has helped me is that when my boys mess up, when they get hurt, I mean the real hurts, not the little falls and spills, when they cheat, lie, steal, etc. (and yes they are capable of such things at young ages, thanks Adam and Eve), I feel pity for them. I feel like I want to protect them but can’t or shouldn’t. More and more I feel for people as broken individuals, judging less and less and loving more and more and I think it is because with my children I am capable of that sort of loving-kindness and I appreciate the sweetness of it so much, it seems so right, that I want it to spread. So I imperfectly seek to share that sort of love with others as I meet them and they share the stories of the triumphs and failures.
Something else I have noticed, if birthdays make you reflective the more people close to you in this life the more reflective you’ll be and I trust that is a good thing. So get close to people, hold ‘em close, and love them, whoever they are, whatever they are doing. God does.