By Mark Azzara
I could make a habit out of reporting the conversations I have with fellow members of our church’s weekly men’s group because I hear so much good stuff. But last week’s meeting was particularly instructive.
For me it centered around one young father’s statement, “I’m the only father my son will ever have.”
I was stunned by that statement – not because it’s true, since it obviously is – but because of his perception of what fatherhood is. He is his son’s ONLY dad. Translation: He knows he has to get this right because there is no fall-back position, nor anyone to jump in and rescue his son if dad messes up that job.
I wonder how children would benefit if every father were to think about his parental role in this way. What if every dad were to think: I cannot fail because my son will suffer the consequences. I am responsible for what I do. I cannot blame anyone else. There is no one to take the buck when I want to pass it.
There are no do-overs. When words have been spoken, when actions have been taken, they can’t be retracted. Every word, every action, is important because they all have consequences, good or bad.
My friend, whose son is only a year old, isn’t thinking egotistically about his role. He’s a little unnerved, a little bit scared, and that’s a good thing because it means he will pay attention when he has the chance to learn how to hone his craft as a dad. He will listen to men who have been there, but he also will pay attention to God.
Fatherhood is a great excuse for prayer because we can approach the Father of all fathers, the only one who is truly good, the only one who can forgive our mistakes and thus teach us how to forgive our children when they mess up, the only one who can encourage when we want to criticize. That’s because God knows he’s the father my friend and I still need.
I’m way past the time when I was a dad to three little girls. My friend is just starting to walk down that road. But we still are both young children in the eyes of our heavenly father. And despite being “adults” we still need to let him be our dad, for our sake and the sake of all those we influence, no matter how young or old.
All God’s blessings – Mark
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