A Tale of Two Fathers
When I think of my husband and how wonderful he is with our children, it melts my heart. He is a dedicated and loving father! But as I am writing this the day before Easter, I cannot help but think about the amazing love our Father in Heaven has for each of us as well. In fact, I remember how taken aback my children were the first time I told them that God the Father loves them more than we do, and they were completely incensed when I followed that epiphany with “…and God loves mommy and daddy much more than you do.” They could hardly comprehend that statement, but it’s the absolute truth.
Once more, there are no perfect people in our home. My husband can be grouchy or lazy on occasion. Sometimes he grouses at the kids for being noisy when he has a headache (which is especially frustrating for them when they are already trying so hard to be quiet, but even something simple like running the water in the sink or whispering and giggling together is considered noisy). But it’s okay – we live daily with a lot of love, grace, and forgiveness in our home. We don’t hold grudges for every wrong (that’s for sure, or none of us would ever be on speaking terms!). Besides, it’s not an every day occurrence, and it’s a small part of his overall Daddy persona. When he’s not feeling poorly, my husband tries to be a servant leader, after the example of Christ.
What Is A Servant Leader?
First and foremost, my husband does try to follow the example of Christ and serve others, rather than be served – for the most part. He certainly models for our girls how a husband should love and care for a wife. Let’s face it, he didn’t marry me because he thought I would be at his beck and call – bringing him dinner on a tray while he watches wrestling from his favorite easy chair every night. Instead, he typically seeks to serve me first.
For example, for the first ten years of our marriage, my husband fixed me breakfast each morning and packed me a lunch so that I would get off to work on time. He never once fussed or complained that I typically am running late – he just did what he could to make mornings less hectic for me. Did I mention that he’d often stick little love notes in my lunch box? Yeah, he’s that kind of guy. Those practices mostly fell out of favor after we had a house-full of children, but these days he will get up and fix me a glass of ice water, or a cup of coffee, sometimes after I ask and other time just because he notices an empty cup and believes I would enjoy a refill. He will accompany me to the ballet, a “chick flick,” and even the mall if I need new shoes or a dress – NOT because he loves those activities, but because he knows that I do. He intuitively understands that I’ll infinitely enjoy these outings more if I don’t have to do them alone. He’s considerate of my needs before his own. Sure, he could tell me to call a friend, and sometimes I do, but when he does take time to accompany me on a last-minute trip to Wal-Mart or the grocery story, it’s like saying he enjoys spending time with me. Boy does that make me feel loved and appreciated!
Any time our girls need help with math homework, someone to air up their bicycle tires, or fulfilling a desire to play board games, they know they can count on Daddy to be of assistance. When they were little, it was Daddy who would attend their stuffed animal tea parties (never Mommy). Daddy would check the closet for monsters at night, or he’d sit and play Zelda with them for hours. By pouring his time and attention into the girls, he has helped them feel how important they are to him. They feel loved!
Whatever society may say, I cannot stress enough the important difference having a close relationship with a Dad can make in a young girl’s life. After all, what other man can teach a daughter how to be in a non-sexual, intimate relationship with a man?
Multiple studies show that girls who grow up with very little respect or affection for anyone acting as a father figure have less than desirable outcomes in life. We are talking earlier sexual activity, risky behaviors, settling for Mr. Right-Now instead of Mr. Right. There are even some studies that suggest that girls who do not develop a Daddy-Daughter bond by age seven may suffer from the ill effects for the rest of their lives. In our home, that statistic caused particular concern for our oldest daughter. She was already eleven when she came to live with us, and she had an active memory of her birth family situation. I won’t go into detail about that situation – ever really – but let’s suffice to say that her birth father, though present in those early years, was not a respected, nor important figure in the home. As near as I can tell, the man was disrespected on a daily basis. He was seen as weak, and meager. He was biologically the father, and by all accounts did the best he could to provide for his children, but it really sounds like he never had a close and personal relationship with any of them.
As a result, our oldest had a difficult time figuring out what to make of her new father (my husband) after she was adopted. It was my husband who was best positioned to help her understand how boys think, but she didn’t like talking to him about such matters. When they spent time alone together, she resisted opening up. Everything was always, “Fine!” Her dad spent countless hours trying to best serve her needs by tutoring her in biology, physics, and earth science. He taught her how to drive. He took her on occasional date nights. Like everyone else in our home, he wanted to invest time into her so she would understand how important she is to him. Sadly, I think that bond remained grossly underdeveloped, and now that our daughter has moved out, she hardly ever contacts him or talks to him at all. Don’t get me wrong – I think she loves him very much in her own way. In a heart-beat, she would declare that HE is the better parent between the two of us. But through the whole six and a half years she lived with us, no matter what my husband did, she always preferred me. Our oldest simply has never been a Daddy’s girl.
Our Father, Which Art In Heaven
Then there is the matter of our Heavenly Father. I don’t know what other impressions our oldest daughter left our house with, but one message we surely emphasized in our home is God’s love for her. No sin, no lie, no manipulation can separate us from the love of our Heavenly Father. God knows all, forgives all, and can heal all. Rather than dwell of any regrets of the past, my husband’s main focus regarding our oldest daughter these days is in prayer. He prays that though he could not develop a strong fatherly bond with her here on earth, Our Father in heaven will pursue her, turn her heart toward Him, and help her to discern His plan for her life over her own. Ironically, Jeremiah 29:11 is one of her favorite verses, probably because it has always provided her with so much hope for the future. We pray these things for our oldest each and every day because in the end, we know that our God is an awesome God who can move mountains, calm the seas, and speak life into any man, woman, or child.
Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”