Three weeks into fatherhood and it still catches me off guard when people ask.
So what’s it like being a new dad?
I must look like I am learning I am a father for the first time when I say, “…It’s …surreal.”
You would think my time off would have offered me ample time to think of a better answer, but one hasn’t come to mind. At least not a quick and easy one. There is a lot to take in, even more to process. Often I am left in a speechless stupor. Hopefully I can put into words here what I have been trying to articulate in conversation.
It is no surprise that fatherhood has redefined me, but I am still trying to grasp the depth of what has changed. Without a doubt I can feel the ground shift where I had complacently planted my feet. At the epicenter God offers a staggering view of the depth of his love. Every time I hold and adore my son I am reminded of the love God has for me. This is the heart of my change. This is what has been redefined. Not God Himself, but my understanding of God’s love. This is why I have such a hard time expressing myself when asked about my son. Owen has done more to teach me about God’s love than anyone else. Here is what I have learned.
I will never forget when the nurse snapped Owen’s band around my wrist. “You are the only one who can check him out of the nursery,” she said. I looked at my wrist and read father. It was the moment it all became real to me. I loved checking him out of the nursery. Whenever the nurse carted him to the door I would wave my band bearing his name and our relationship. I could claim him, and I was the only person who could do it. It is difficult to explain how proud I am of my son. There isn’t a thing he has done on his own to merit such pride. He is my son and that is enough. He bears my image and that blesses me. How much so is it the same for God and His children? God loves us simply because He created us and we bear His image. Why does He take pride in us? Because we are His children and that is enough.
I tell my wife all the time that I love Owen so much that it hurts. The pain comes from Owen’s ignorance. This child has no clue how much I love him. Even when I hold him in my hands, kiss his face and whisper in his ear, he remains oblivious to the depth of my love. To him I am only a recognizable source of peace and comfort. He doesn’t understand our relationship, the sacrifices made for him, the love that surrounds him, the planning and preparation that goes into providing for him. I don’t hold it against Owen, but it does hurt a little that he doesn’t know the depth of my love. It hurts because I know it would bless him if he understood. He would find comfort in knowing the distance I would go to provide for him. He would still cry when he was hungry, but I doubt the cries would be so desperate.
The same can be said about God and his children. We squirm and fidget within our shallow concerns ignorant of the sustaining hands that keep us. We have grown accustom to the continuous kisses of blessings. We don’t listen for the words of love and encouragement that are whispered into our ears. Instead we cry all the louder in our fear and discomfort. Our God must love us in a similar fashion. He continues to love us in our ignorance, hoping as we grow we will see His sustaining hands, kisses and whispers as more than shallow provisions, but as testaments of His grace. I am sure we would find much peace when we remember God’s promises and declarations of love. Though we may not understand the depth of God’s love we can find comfort in knowing it runs deeper than we will ever have to go.
The best parents won’t spoil their baby. I thought this area was going to be my parenting strength. As a teacher I can sniff out inconsistencies in my discipline like a hound and I am not afraid to have a student angry with me. That changes when it it is your baby crying. It’s hard to listen to Owen cry, but sometimes we have him cry a bit so he can learn to self soothe. He is never forgotten or ignored, he is actually at the center of our attention during these moments. Owen has no clue that Andrea and I are intentionally pushing his limits to grow and mature. The harder he cries the more we pray. (Before one of you call me in, I am not neglecting my child)
In a way, I am left in the crib at night. I wonder why God wont meet my need and cry out louder for His attention. The temptation is to believe I am unheard, or ignored, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Just as my eyes never leave the baby monitor when Owen is crying, I must remember that God never forgets me. He hears my cries. I have gone through trials without ever learning God’s reason, but I must trust that there is a reason and that it is good. If not for my benefit then perhaps for someone else, and if not for anyone else then at the least it is for God’s glory.
Even though Owen is only a few weeks old, Andrea and I have been making decisions that will effect him years later. His only concern right now is eating. I would include sleeping and pooping, but those just seem to happen without him giving it much thought. His mother and I, however, have a growing list of concerns. We are already making plans for his education, our next home, relationships with extended family, savings for his future. We have plans for him, not specific plans, but plans that will help him able to make major decisions for himself years from now.
God has also made plans for us. Owen has no clue about college tuition, but that doesn’t mean Andrea and I are not planning for it. What events have taken place to prepare me for my future? What wondrous things has God planned for me that are beyond my comprehension- beyond my wildest dreams? God has promised to have plans for me. I must trust that He will see them to fruition as long as I continue to follow Him.
I could have recited these truths before, but having Owen has changed my perspective. These are no longer just ethereal truths, but tangible promises of peace and comfort. My relationship with my son has clarified and enriched my relationship with God. I hope those of you fortunate to have children or who are expecting a child can relate with my experience. I pray that our children can always mirror our relationship with God and that we will always be reminded of his endless love for us.
Take comfort in the mystery of God’s love.
Please pass this on to a parent in need of encouragement. God bless.