I suppose I actually became a father when my wife got pregnant, and I certainly recall how my world view changed as we counted weeks and trimesters, especially when a little prenatal health scare sent us off to a university hospital for a fancy ultrasound (by 2004 standards). But having a pregnant wife is one thing, and walking down the hall of a hospital wing to help a nurse hose off your newborn son is quite another experience.
That said, the birth of my first son did not bring what I’d expected — an overwhelming wave of emotion or the sense of a life-changing experience. I remember everything pretty clearly, and the main recollection is simply processing everything as it happened, almost in a clinical sense. The remarkable thing is how it wasn’t remarkable. For someone who usually is on a quest for deeper meaning, I used to feel cheated by my own passive acceptance of Jack’s birth as such a regular occurrence.
It would take some of my own maturation, and more importantly the subsequent arrival of his younger brothers — Max in March 2008 and Charlie in 2011, each with shared yet unique birth experiences — for me to fully appreciate and understand everything about the day Jack was born.
As a child’s birthday rolls around, it’s inevitable his parents think back to the day he arrived. I’ll be 33 in August, and I bet at least once that day my parents look at each other and are transported back to the summer of 1979 and what it meant for them to be young and on the brink of the greatest adventure of their lives. Not that I’m all that special, mind you, but I know when I look back on my life, there’s my eight years as a parent and everything else. Somehow now the years my wife and I spent dating, then our engagement and newlywed phase all seemed like a six-year run up to the day we went from Kristie and Scott to Mom and Dad. It’s not that we’ve lost our identity as a couple so much as it’s been enhanced by us becoming creators of this family.
Eight years ago today, I became a father.
That day, from the hospital room, I called my three living grandparents to tell them the good news. Before Jack was four, before Max or Charlie were born, we lost both of my grandfathers. In those eight years, our extended families have dealt with some inexplicable tragedies. There also have been moments of intense jubilation. And many, many average days filled with their own ups and downs that, woven together, have made our family of five what it is today.
There’s so many thoughts swirling about as I reflect on our parenting journey thus far. I can’t write about them all at once. I plan to use this space, over the course of at least the next year, to explore those ideas. Led by the scripture and God’s direction —something I’m trying harder to listen for in my life of late — I want to write about Christian fatherhood, both generally and very specifically about our own challenges and victories. I intend to use daily lectionary readings as inspiration and to, with each post, offer a short prayer — my own, personal prayer for myself and my kids. If it means something to someone else, that’s wonderful. I welcome interaction with readers, but I’m mostly doing this because I felt called to try. Though I didn’t really understand what I was feeling led to do, plenty of people have taken significantly larger leaps of faith than what I’m doing here, so it didn’t make much sense to resist the urge. So here I go.
Colossians 1:9-14 (NIV)A prayer for April 24:
“…since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Eight years ago today, I became a father. Each day since has been its own blessing, and I thank you for trusting me with these three boys. I thank you also for using the experience of fatherhood to help me understand a faint hint of what your love is like for all creation.
I thank you for my family and ask you to watch over us. Help me, specifically, to be the kind of father you have called me to be, to not just raise my boys to be good people, but to be for them an example of your love in the world. I am grateful for the community of faith you have provided for us and overwhelmed by the undeserved blessings in our life.
Thank you also for leading me on this journey of writing and prayer. I am grateful for the opportunity. Amen.