I think it’s an opportune time to recap some of what I’ve learned about fatherhood in my short 6 years as one. In order to do that appropriately, I’ll have to circle back to the first dad I ever met: my own. If you’re just catching up, I lost my dad on my birthday in 2017, and while I had a good, solid 33 years with him I feel like it was too soon and I had more to learn from this man that had a stubborn will and even more stubborn faith in Jesus Christ. My dad taught me many things, both positive and negative about the world, our family, God, and the will of humanity. I find myself reflecting more on who he was now that he’s gone than I did when he was here suffering through his disease. He had myotonic dystrophy, which is a genetic disorder that (in the most general description) affects muscles the same way muscular dystrophy does, but also targets muscular organs like the heart, liver, lungs, etc. He was diagnosed when I was 12 and it only went downhill from there, but because my dad never gave into the varying stages of the disease he worked until he physically couldn’t, he walked until he physically couldn’t, he was the home-parent and made dinners, cleaned, took care of us and the house until he couldn’t…retrospectively, it was amazing he never had a complex about doing any of these things considering how his generation can be about traditional gender roles. Through all that, he never once blamed God, never took his frustration with the disease out on us, never wavered in his faith. He constantly loved on my mom, doing small romantic gestures like mailing her cards and sending her flowers just because..he involved us in those things and would have us do them too. It is that man; the one that served his family, wife, children, and most importantly His Savior that raised me and began to teach me what fatherhood is.
Now, here I am, 6 years into this great calling, trying to raise two other little boys to carry that mantle yet another generation and I can’t help but wonder if my dad’s hopes and dreams for me were anywhere similar to what mine are for my boys. I want them to love more than anything, and the risky love too. Love God’s people better than I do. Love their family better than I do. Love their momma better than I do. Love each other better than I do. Conversely, I want them to be exceptionally passionate about something like I am. I want them to share that passion with everyone they meet and use that passion to serve people and change the world; whatever portion of it they’re called to affect. I want them to make better choices than I did and not lose the focus on why bad choices having eternal effects. I pray that they will not waver in their faithfulness and that no one will mire their view of Jesus and who He really is to humanity, but they will be direct reflections of that Person. Did my dad every want these things for me? Or were they different? I suppose I’ll never know exactly, but I can only imagine that he’s still rooting me on the way he did so consistently when he was here. I had the most supportive and patient parents that always believed in me even if they didn’t agree with me. It was a jackpot worth receiving.
I can only hope that as we all get older, that my reflection of my dad and of Jesus rings true to my sons and that they, one day, will become fathers of their own sort and that they can be the better versions of me and their Papa. I hope nothing but good things for them for the time that we have left, however long that is, and that the road is an overall joyful one not mucked up by loss and disease, but celebrated in what it is when it is for that time.
I have so much more to learn about this role of life, but I feel like I was setup for success by a great dad and all the other good men that I’m fortunate to be surrounded by. Happy Father’s Day, gents…it’s a noble calling and a difficult one, but completely and utterly so worth it.