Friday, February 4, 2011

Lessons in Love

God never blessed me with children. I wonder about that sometimes, why not. Since it is what is, however, I guess I’m left with presuming that it was a good thing, perhaps part of His plan. I don’t have to understand His love to accept it, but I can wonder. Certainly it would have made a difference in my life if I would have had children, although for better or worse, I can’t imagine. But looking honestly at who I am now, I’m not too sure I would have been a good father. I know fatherhood is, on the whole, a difficult thing. Oh there are many blessed times, warm memories for a lifetime --- I’m sure I would have treasured those --- despite never having experienced them, I miss them now. But there would have also been difficult times, the tough love times, when lessons must be taught to children, whether through punishment, or just letting a child go off and fail. I’m not at all sure I would have been a good father at that, when the father’s love is responded to by his child saying: “I hate you.”

Letting the young adult child go off and learn the hard lessons of life, and fail sometimes, is difficult for a father, but a good father does this. The father of the Prodigal Son was an example to imitate. A father at this morning’s bible study wrestled with financially helping his daughter find an apartment --- for her and her boyfriend. I recalled how many years ago a very good friend who I and my wife were about to vacation with asked me if I would be concerned if she brought along a boyfriend, to stay with --- I said yes, I’d be “bothered” by that and told her so; my wife raged at my response. The wife is gone, and my very good friend still is one. Difficult decisions, of love vs love. I’ve seen fathers --- and mothers, who’ve failed at these difficult times, still sheltering their children well into adulthood. It’s also difficult for a father to not continually push his child, to be the best that they can be --- or perhaps, the best he’d like them to be, whether in school, or sports, or even playing the piano. A father wants his children to succeed, to be exceptional, although by definition most children are only average. It’s a difficult thing, being a father and admitting that his child might not be so special when compared to other children --- they seem so special to you, but a good father can admit this truth and love his child anyway --- no, no, no, not “anyway”, but “period.” A good father loves his child, period, with no regrets, even if he is only an average child. A good father, more than anything else, loves.

I think my dad was a good father. I never felt he had any regrets over my failures, and I’m told he often told others how proud he was of my successes. He did his best, and then let me be an adult, gradually loosening the reins, and knowing when to let me go --- to be a success, or a failure, or a fool, on my own. And always being there, and sure in the knowledge that I KNEW he’d always be there, whenever I needed a shoulder to cry on, or a walk on the golf course to share memories of our love.

I think that’s how a good father acts, kind of running along with his child, but in the background. Like the father who removes the training wheels and lets the kid ride off on his bike alone, perhaps to fall --- but secretly, the father is near behind to catch him, if he can. A good father lets loose and yet holds tight at the same time. It’s hard for a good father to give love like that; it’s sometimes hard for a child to accept love like that; they think they can do everything on their own at such a young age. I think it is a continual lesson they both are learning at the same time.

I don’t know if I’d been good at that part of fatherhood, but I know my heavenly Father does, and that’s how He treats me. I can accept being the father that I am, a father to His children, not mine. And I have a pretty strong confidence that when I ride off alone, sometimes a bit wobbly in my balance, He is behind me somewhere to catch me if I fall. So it’s a surprise, sometimes, when I do fall and it hurts badly. And perhaps I even yell: “Where were You?” But it never seems to fail that He’s there, or He sends me someone to hold me and say: “Don’t worry. It’ll be all right.”

And it is.

Good fathers give us lessons in love, by letting us fail, and sometimes by helping us up, but always being there.

Thank you, Father, for always being there, through my earthly father, my neighbor, and Your Son. Always there, especially when I fall.


  1. Thanks for the invite, Steve. I think I'll bookmark the location and check in from time to time. Your words may be just what I need on some days. You do good work.

    This blog, in case you didn't notice, is a slice of Scripture, focused on and reflected on in many ways. In this culture we live in, it seems so needed --- we are all so anxious, myself included. But we need not be, if we can really take to heart His thoughts, if we can listen for them or see them in others. I give witness to my anxiety weaknesses, and how He leads me. On occasion, some can learn from my learnings and reflections, and find peace. If I help even one person find peace in God even one day, all my thoughts and efforts here are not a waste of time.

    I don't know exactly what I was created for, but I know He created me uniquely with a unique purpose. I strive to do His will, as you do. Thank you for your perseverance.