Sunday, June 17, 2012

All kinds of dads

Numbers 6:22-27 (NIV)

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
‘The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’
“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
There are lots of different kinds of dads in the world. Being the father of an infant is much, much different from having three kids from ages 16 months to eight years. And that’s much, much different from having adult children and being a grandfather, or being a great-grandfather.

A well-earned Father's Day nap with my youngest.
There are dads who have only sons, dads who have only daughters. There are single dads like divorced dads and widower dads. I’m of the opinion you’re a dad to some degree once you know a baby is on the way. Some kids have two dads (or I suppose even more once you factor in all the ways you can be legally involved as a parent). Some dads raise their own kids and then raise their grandkids under the same room. Some older dads have outlived their children, some dads tragically lose their children when they are very young.

Some dads think of themselves as sons, too. Some dads have great relationships with their own dads — some have written them off and sworn to be the father they never had. Some dads stay at home with their kids. Some dads work long hours and miss breakfast and bedtime. Some dads work far away and only come home every other weekend, if not less. Some dads don’t live with their kids at all, but send money and support. Some dads don’t. Some dads are stationed at a military base halfway around the world. Some dads live behind bars.

Some dads aren’t biological fathers, but great dads regardless. Some men are biological fathers and don’t deserve to be called dad. Some men would give everything just to have one child to love and never get the chance. Some men seem to be able to make new babies under any circumstance.

Some dads exist only in the hearts and memories of their children and grandchildren. Some dads live on as their name is passed down through the generations. Some dads are alive but imprisoned in their own body as their mind is ravaged by dementia.

Some dads are unfailingly patient. Some dads are quick to anger. Some dads drink too much. Some dads hit. Some dads buy nice presents and take the family on memorable vacations. Some dads read bedtime stories every night. Some dads teach their sons how to play ball. Some dads teach their daughters how to make a French braid. Some dads do laundry. Some dads mow the lawn. Some dads love no one so much as their wives or kids. So dads love no one so much as themselves.

Some dads teach their kids to smoke and drink beer. Some dads teach their kids about Jesus. Some dads teach their kids about the Rolling Stones. Some dads teach their kids about the Three Stooges. Some dads teach their kids to fish and hunt. Some dads teach their kids about savings accounts and stock options.

There are lots of different kinds of dads in the world, surely this list only scratches the surface. But every child has a father — of some sort, anyway. And every father never forgets he is a father, whether his child is a baby in need of constant care or an adult with her own family or long ago given up for adoption or no longer alive or living in the basement or estranged because someone said something they feel they can’t take back… there are lots of different kinds of dads, lots of different kind of kids, no possible way to count them all.

I know what kind of dad I am and what kind of dad I want to be. I also know being a husband and father defines me more than anything else ever could or ever will. I am blessed beyond words to have this life and I hope my children understand how much they mean to me. I know it is my job to let them know directly so they never have to guess where they stand. I know my relationship with each of my sons will change in many ways over the following years, and I know the job will only grow in difficulty and responsibility. I love where we are today, look forward to where we’ll go tomorrow and often wonder about what the future might hold — for better or for worse.

Most of all, I love my wife, I love my kids, and I know from them what it means to be loved. There are lots of different kinds of dads in the world, but my kids are stuck with me. I’m going to do my best to make sure they live in love all the days of their lives.

A prayer for June 17:

Lord, I thank you for my sons. I thank you for my dad. I thank you for my grandfathers, who are no longer here but who each loved me in their own way. I pray for all fathers today, no matter what their connection to their children may be, that you bless them all, make your face shine on them and be gracious. The love you have for us all, shown through the sacrifice of your son, passes all understanding. May all fathers love our children the way you first loved us. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. "I’m going to do my best to make sure they live in love all the days of their lives." .... AMEN!