“Watching you as a father to our kids is the first time I’m really seeing what fatherhood looks like.” I remember feeling the weight of my wife’s words when she told me that.
It was the same feeling I got when I realized that I was taking our first daughter home from the hospital: How can I live up to this? How can I be the person that my wife and children will measure all other men to?
You see my wife never had a permanent father figure in her life. I knew that I must set the tone for all the other men who never stepped up to the plate for her. And I know that I can never leave that void in my own children’s lives. It is a huge responsibility to the people that I care for most deeply.
That’s in large part what fatherhood is: taking up the mantle of responsibility for your family.
Being the standard by which they measure all other men against. It’s the greatest honor that a man can be given. However, it can at times feel incredibly defeating. Because here’s the truth that we all know but don’t want to say out loud: I am not enough and I will sometimes fail my children as a father, and I will sometimes fail my wife as a husband.
Fatherhood has shown me that I am not enough, that I am selfish, and sometimes careless with my words and actions.
You’re probably thinking, “This guy is such a downer. Why am I reading what he thinks?” I talk about fatherhood exposing all my failures and fears first because this context truly magnifies the joy and grace that fatherhood brings.
I have been blessed with three wonderful daughters. The amazing thing is that despite my failings as a father, they love me so intensely, so purely, and are so quick to forget and forgive.
They just want me to love them and to be in their life. They require so little from me, despite deserving everything from me.
One of my favorite parts of the day is coming home from work. As I walk up to my front door, I can hear the sounds of my family inside. That is, if I can make it to the front door before they all run out. My children act like they haven’t seen me in years — like I’m coming home from war. There is yelling, jumping, hugs, kisses, cheers, and probably some items being thrown around. It doesn’t matter if I was the perfect dad yesterday, I can be a great dad right then and they will love me, no questions asked.
It is such a humbling and wonderful feeling. True bliss.
The feeling is mutual from me as well towards them. When they are hurt, my heart breaks. I would move heaven and earth to save them, comfort them, show them they are loved and valued. There is nothing that they could say or do that would make me no longer love them.
So it is with our heavenly Father.
I truly love that God gave us relationships on earth that are supposed to mirror His relationship with us. My awesome responsibility is to, just like my heavenly Father, love my children with a love that is unfathomable and rich with mercy. He has shown me how to love in this way perfectly through His son Jesus Christ, as well as imperfectly in the daily love from my children. I pray that as I follow His example, it will point my children towards Him. I am honored by this eternal impact that fatherhood embodies.