Fatherhood has changed me.
Sure, I realize that is an obvious statement. Clearly, I went from not being a dad, to being a dad; but it’s much more involved than that. It has helped me to get past myself. I’m convinced that each and every sin committed in life is founded in the elevation of the ‘self’ over others, and especially God. When Christ calls us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), He has no doubt that we love ourselves. This is why loving God and loving others is considered ‘the Greatest Commandment,’ because it takes us above our natural tendency to simply live life each day for ourselves. Having said that, fatherhood hasn’t taken away this daily struggle, but it certainly has helped it. When my son was born last August I was instantaneously in love. I knew that his survival was entirely dependent on my wife and I. As soon as I felt this responsibility, my attitudes, ambitions, and aspirations began to be transformed.
I have to write a disclaimer here because some of you will say, “what about when you got married?” This is a great point. Of course I want to elevate my wife above myself. I want her to fulfill her every dream and goal, just like how she would say the same for me. Our relationship is crucial to not just each other, but now it is crucial to how Oliver will view marriage, or how to treat a woman. These are a few of the reasons that Paul speaks so strongly on the relationship between husband and wife in Ephesians 5. He commands men to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Ephesians 5:25) and “let each one of you love his wife as himself” (hmmm… as himself) (Ephesians 5:33). This is pretty powerful language and a challenge to every husband every day. The key word is sacrifice, which of course involves selflessness.
The difference between the impact of marriage on myself, and the impact of a son, is survival. I love my wife and cannot imagine life without her, but if we didn’t end up together, we would both still be alive. If we don’t place Oliver’s needs above our own, he will not develop or possibly even survive (not to mention Social Services would take him away from us). This instantly puts him more important than my own endeavors. His naps, eating times, development, joy, and happiness are more important than whether I get to read, journal, or write. I’m not saying that my identity has been lost in my son’s life, what example would that be? Not a very good one. What I’m saying is that my life has been transformed into the life of a father, which has become a major part of who I am.
Fatherhood has opened my eyes in new ways to the love and example of our Heavenly Father. Think about how crazy it is that we get to call the Creator of the Universe our Father. When you were a kid, or heck even today, did you ever brag about your Dad? I totally did! I loved coming into school and explaining math problems to my friends and couldn’t wait until they asked how I figured it out just so I could say, “my Dad taught me.” Picture yourself as a 7 year old and say out loud “my Dad created the moon and the stars.” That’s pretty insane! God had the power to create whatever type of world He wanted, and He chose one in which He calls us sons and daughters, and we call Him Father. If you have never had the chance to read the story of the prodigal son, go read Luke 15:11-32. I believe that each of us are prodigal sons and God is the father who cannot wait to throw His arms around us and celebrate when we come home to Him.
I’m humbled by the fact that regardless of how much I love my son and want the best for him, I will inevitably let him down in some way. This is just a fact of our human depravity. However, it’s unfathomable to think that he, along with all humanity, can call the All-Powerful God of the Universe Abba, Pater, Daddy.