There are days I watch you and think, how could God have found two so completely different people and told them to spend their lives together? We’ve fought battles trying to understand each other and fell on our knees for strength to cling to the promise we made to each other fifteen years ago. We’ve taken each other for granted, swallowed selfish words when we wanted the other to do things our way, and let too may words slip out unchecked. We’ve snapped, cried (well, I have, enough for both of us), snuggled, ignored, dreamed, and persevered. But every night, no matter what, I know you will open your arms and embrace me. And I need only to watch my girls to see God’s wisdom in our union. And then fall on my knees in gratitude.
Perhaps for comedic relief, God gave the manliest man I know two daughters. And as they maneuver the ages of waffling emotions, unpredictable predictableness, hysteria and sweetness, I know your job isn’t getting any easier. I expect this approaching parenting stage will dwarf the confusion of infancy as we hand over our little loves to God’s hands and pray they take hold.
Honestly, the future of letting go bit by bit and ushering in a less controlled world terrifies me some days. But then I remember you are by my side. You, who have introduced the girls to the music of the world, in a safe way. What other Christian family has young elementary age kids who can sing Foo Fighters and Nickel Creek Band as well as Mandissa, U2, David Crowder and Michael Jackson?
You push through fear, encourage trials and risk, and gently pull them home again for protection under our wings. You spot dreams and encourage them excessively with an unparallelled drive for excellence. Your honesty is brutal (like the world). Your surprises tender. I watch my passionate girls, rising to your challenges, seeking your approval, and can identify many traits in them that are not a product of my genes or habits. I am thankful for it. Together we give them a more complete suit of armor with which to face life’s battles. Sometimes it seems that you are preparing the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteous while I ready the feet with the gospel of peace and shine the shield of faith. Silly, I know, for these parts are not ours alone to prepare, but certainly we play a part.
There are gaping holes in their armor. God gives us all holes that are filled only by the spirit fruits hard won in life’s trials. And us parents, we leave burnt holes in that polished metal, leftovers from our sin natures that are not yet eradicated. But I am distracted (as usual) by word and meandering analogies. Really I want you to know, that I am so thankful to parent with you. You rarely father the way I would (thank goodness). And for the days (and months) I forget to tell you, for the days I tell how to do, instead of cheering alongside, know this: you are a great dad.