Today my first born daughter turns 29… it was only a moment ago I held her for the first time promising her an unconditional-uninterrupted life of love that as a 27 year old father I knew nothing of. I pledged her a strength I didn’t yet have, a wisdom I would have 29 years later and my full engagement in her every season of growth. I would not spare the rod. I would seize every teachable moment and grow her God’s way. This little gift would be celebrated, know the fear of the Lord, and be fathered in her unique and special gifting. I would always be there for her… I repeat, always there for her. I meant every single word, and I fell short of each.
Every parent, no matter how godly and loving, falls short and in some way wounds their child. For a variety of reasons it’s inevitable.
Was it the night I didn’t get up to comfort her… letting her cry herself asleep? Was it my dismissal of her pain when she scraped her knee for the first time? Or my kinda- just- beneath- the- surface seething that oozed out during the teens years? Maybe it was grounding her for lying only to find out that she hadn’t. I’ll bet it was my impatience teaching her how to drive a stick shift… or some other moment I’m entirely unaware of?
I am a pretty good father.
I wish I had been the father I am now back when the girls were little.
Guess how I became the father I am now.
God used my children to grow me up… to father me… to sculpt me a little more into His image. I think God uses parenting to change/parent us more than he uses us to nurture our children (and in saying that I don’t for a moment want to minimize the affect/importance of our parenting upon our kids). At age 27 I couldn’t be the parent I am at 55. I’m not the father at 55 I will be at 70. That’s the way it is.
Seriously, God primarily used my kids to get to so many of the governing issues and abiding sins of my life. Unfortunately in that less-sanctified state I fell short as a dad and no doubt wounded my girls.
AND God has shown up for all of us.
I worship my gracious God who has both forgiven me and redeemed the oh so many failings… I love my daughters and now their daughters fully aware of the life my words, “you are beautiful… you fill my heart with sheer joy” bring them. And in moments together snuggling on the couch or sitting around enjoying a cup of coffee together or in aisle 7 looking for an iron at Target I tell stories of those difficult seasons, I share my story and I let them into the grief I have over my sin and the impact it must have had on them. And I leave the door open for them to raise with me anything I might have done/said that lingers… and we talk, snuggle, finish the coffee and pay for the iron.
They know my love… and it covers a multitude of sins.
And in all of this they, as parents, see all that awaits them… the unconditional-uninterrupted of love of their Heavenly Father.