Fatherhood is my favorite job. It is also the one I am least qualified to do. Before you react, I spent three years studying to be a pastor (seminary). Before that, I spent four years studying independence and problem solving and research paper writing (college). Before that I spent twelve years in the public school system learning how to read, write, behave myself, and in rare circumstances, math. Before that I spent five years watching my father, mother, and brother accomplish simple and complex tasks.
I did not take requisite classes to be a father. No one interviewed me before I became a father. No one checked my credentials and lack of credentials. I simply woke up one morning and I became responsible for another human being—not without forethought and intention. Honestly, I had never changed a diaper until I changed the black tar diaper of death on May 8th, 2001 (but that’s a story for another day).
We can’t reduce fatherhood into a checklist of tasks to accomplish and a list of behaviors to avoid. Parenting requires more than a list of things to do and not do. Although, I would have benefited from such a list, if such a list existed.
As a father, as a co-parent with Karen, I am blessed. Our boys have not posed any behavior issues YET. Our boys have not experienced any great medical challenges YET. Our boys make good decisions USUALLY. They have both navigated most of their teenage years without the drama and conflict that I exhibited in my teenage years. They both have bright todays and even brighter tomorrows.
Honestly, I take little credit for these successes. Karen stayed home and taught them the fundamental basics of human decency. I have the flexibility of schedule that has allowed me to coach some sports, to travel to away games, to go and do and be when it felt needed. Our boys have grown up in the church and have been loved beyond what Karen and I could have loved them into being.
Here is my short list of things that I have given to my children: Patience. Prayer. Perseverance. I believe patience and perseverance reside on the same side of the coin. Perseverance requires patience. Patience requires perseverance. My prayer time with the boys has been playing catch waiting for the bus, or going ice skating, or going to the beach, or teaching them both to drive. I don’t believe the PRAYER was as essential as the TIME.
I believe that patience, prayer, and perseverance form the foundation of all meaningful human relationships. When we give people patience, we liberate them to find themselves. When we offer Prayer Time to other people, we place them before all Love and all Hope. When we give someone the gift of perseverance, we subject our hopes and dreams about them to their hopes and dreams about themselves.
These days require different skills, different aptitudes. These days may require a whole new book of checklists of tasks to accomplish and lists of behaviors to avoid. However, if we can give each other patience and perseverance, if we can give each other the Time of Prayer and the Prayer of Time, I believe we will grow into our new, better, and improved selves. We can’t compel others to give us these things. We can only offer them freely and liberally and hope it makes a difference.
I believe it will.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.