I am a perfectionist at heart. I like to have a controlled environment. I want to be able to see my dreams and endeavors to their proper conclusions. There is a sense of satisfaction in that, a sense of accomplishment. To be in a state of disorder or incompleteness is one of the most stress inducing experiences for me. And yet it seems like these days in ministry, all my work is all rough drafts. Its all starts. Its all important things that need beginnings but that I am not allowed to see through to the end. This is really challenging for me. To live in a life of labor all surrounded by rough drafts. It is unsatisfying. It is anxiety inducing. And it is very formative.
Last year, in a conversation with a friend about parenting, he made a statement that stuck with me. He said, “I think the best model of parenting my own children is the way that God relates to me as a father.” I didn’t really get it at the time, but for some reason it has stuck in my mind.
Over the past weekend we have welcomed the newest member of our family and I have naturally wandered back into reflecting on the past year and the nature of parenting as it relates to all of life. I come back also, to this statement, and I think am starting to catch on to its meaning a little more.
I think the key issue is to see the basis and beauty of personhood in parenting.
Its amazing. All we want is for things to “get back to normal”. As we are reeling from the impact of one tragedy, it seems to just hit us again with multiplied vengeance. Has the world always been this broken? Am I just not waking up to the realities which have been so neatly tucked away from my sight all my life? It seems to all be going to hell before our very eyes.
Perhaps the paragraph above expresses my naivety. Of course the hurts of today do not come out of nowhere. They are emerging in their full bitter flavor after generations of poisonous marination. They are surfacing in rapid succession, and it is overwhelming. Like a person who has just been told they have 6 months to live we as a culture want to recoil into denial, repeating confidently, “What? How can this be? But I have felt totally fine up until now!”
My whole young adult life has been a journey of rethinking what I believe and seeking to understand those with whom I disagree. This process has be accelerated in the past six months. More and more I am realizing that one of the biggest problems in society today is the inability to speak across differences. To add to that, one of the biggest challenges that the church faces today is the call to speak to a world that the church very often does not understand. There is no way forward without learning to understand the whole picture of our faith, as well as the foundational ideas that drive the world today.
This time last year I was experiencing my very first every Father’s Day as a father. It was an important moment. I had been a father for an entire three months! It was not a reflection on what I had been through but rather on what I was about to get into.
As cliche as it sounds, its amazing how much difference a year makes. Being so early in the journey, I have only to say what fatherhood has done to me, not what I bring to it.
Last year’s meditation was full of confidence, anticipation and drive.
But becoming a father has changed me in ways that I never anticipated. It has made me into a person who asks more questions and makes less statements. It has made me more alive to my deficiencies and the immaturity of my answers. More than ever, I worry and I fear. Continue reading