Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fathers' Day

As I've mentioned before, I am the father of four young boys, ages 7, 5, 3 and 5 months (I don't seem to posess any X chromosomes, alas), and on this Fathers' Day, I started thinking about my role as a father, and any highlights of my tenure as such.

First off, I must lead with the admission that I am a mistake-prone father. I blow it often. Now, not in big, spectacular ways like forgetting a child at the supermarket, or legitimately abusive stuff, but in fallen, everyday-type ways. The overly harsh tone, the disinterested response to an excited story, etc. It breaks my heart to think of all the times I have let my sinful short-sightedness rule my actions with my kids.

But.

In light of this, or in spite of this, I think there are two things I have done pretty well, and I hope and pray that these are things that will last, and echo throughout the lives of my children.

First, I tell them constantly (more than a few times a day) that I love them, and as often as seems appropriate (during a time of crisis or correction) that I love them, and will always love them, no matter what, for ever and ever.

Second, I tell them often (too often, but only because it is necessary) that I was wrong, and I am sorry.

Why I see these two things as so important probably says as much about me and my own needs as anything. First, I want my boys to live their lives in absolute confidence that they are loved my their father. I want there to be no doubt whatsoever that their father has lavished upon them extravigant love (not stuff or things), and that this is absolutely theirs throughout eternity.

It has been pointed out to me, and I see it in the lives of so many, that the image we have of our Heavenly Father is directly related to our relationship to our earthly father. In other words, I am the flesh and blood template that my children use to form their concept of God.

No pressure there.

So, just as Jesus used the parable of the prodigal son to give us an image of a father that loves their children through everything, and is waiting for the opportunity to shower that love upon them, I want my kids to see that in their dad.

What is dad? Dad is love. Dad is also correction, discipline, fun, goofy, and more, but first and foremost, dad is love.

Second, I have read and heard from numerous sources, as well as seen it in the lives of me and my wife, that very few things drive a wedge between a parent and child like unresolved conflict and unforgiveness.

How many of you, even to this day, can recall an incident from your childhood (probably more that one) that make you wish for, long for words of apology and reconciliation?

My kids are well aware that their parents goof up all too often. But, we desperately try to be quick to admit our mistakes, apologize and ask for forgiveness from our kids.

I tell you all, there is nothing better - and I do mean nothing better (some equal, but not better) - than having little arms wrapped around you, and hearing "I love you, daddy, I forgive you." All is well. Intimacy has been restored.

It is never too late to start. Words of apology and reconciliation would be a stream of living water in the souls of far too many adults.

I love you, forever and always.
I am sorry, I was wrong. Please forgive me.

This is a key legacy I want to leave with my boys.

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