I used to be one of those low-life dudes who despised fatherhood for no other reason than that I didn’t want to worry about anyone but myself in my life. For twenty-four years my plan was going well, even after I found an awesome woman who said that she didn’t want to have children either. But then I got married.
It didn’t take long, a year and a half at the most. My wife who was currently on staff at our church dropped the ball on me while I was dropping her off for work. I was talking about wanting to move out of state, and there, out of nowhere she said it. “We can move out of state as soon as you agree to have children.” Then with a smile she got out of the car, closed the door and walked away as I sat there… shocked. She had changed and now I was expected to pursue fatherhood.
Again, it didn’t take long, a year and a half at most. My wife made me a nice dinner one night and gave me a card (Which isn’t uncommon of her), which ended with the tagline, “Happy Father’s Day.” At first I read right past it, then I stopped, went back, read it again, and got a strange look on my face as shock set in. Fatherhood had arrived.
I’d love to tell you that music crescendoed in from the sky and that I swept up my wife as we ballroom danced across our tiny apartment, doing spins and dips, but that would be a lie. Fatherhood was one transformation God would work over time, and most dramatically on the day our first daughter was born.
A Story From Fatherhood
My wife’s labor started bright and early at about 5:30 AM on February 3rd, 2010; but what we didn’t know at the time was that it would take another twenty-six hours of hard work to get through it.
Somewhere around hour fifteen, as I held my wife through contractions, pain and then tears as she found out she was only at six centimeters after our midwife told us she was at nine, thoughts started to come in as we felt utterly hopeless and exhausted.
“Now you’re beginning to understand what it’s like.”
An epiphany struck me. As I sat there holding my wife, wiping away her tears and wishing I could take her pain onto myself, I saw the scenario differently. This child, whom I had never seen or met, was causing my wife such exhausting and tremendous pain, yet I wasn’t mad at her; nor did I despise or hate her. In fact I only wanted to meet her all the more. My response wasn’t decreased love, but rather increased compassion beyond explanation.
Here I sat, as the father, watching my bride suffer through abundant pain, yet somehow we knew it was all worth it. Every exhausted muscle, every drop of blood, every streaming tear, every single prayer, every whisper in her ear encouraging her on. We both wanted this child, we both loved this child and we would push forward and do what needed to be done to get her into our arms.
Between contractions, all she could do is weep and I all I could do was hold her; and then, finally (After going to the hospital due a drop in the child’s heart rate, answering all their dumb questions they already had on file, being given the OBGYN who recommended that my parents abort me, and several more contractions), she was here.
Too exhausted to even hold her own newborn daughter, my wife passed her off to me out of fear that she would drop her. Then there I stood, looking down at this child looking up at me as she gripped my big finger in her little hands, thinking to myself, “You are mine and you were worth every second of it.”
A Lesson From Fatherhood
From my whole initiation into fatherhood, I can’t help but think and wonder at the symbolic parallel of my experience to that of Jesus on the cross.
There was the bridegroom Jesus, hanging on the cross, experiencing excruciating pain after expressing extreme love for those he had known in his lifetime. Here he was, committing his greatest act of love for the purpose of enabling those who so desired, to spend eternity with him after this life.
Every insult spoken, every drop of spit, every thorn in his brow, every lashing on his back, every smack of the hammer, every nail in his body, every tear from his mother, every prayer to the Father, every spear in his heart, every day in the tomb, every stone rolled away, every eye that saw, every ear that heard, every mind that believed, every whisper to and from the Father encouraging him on.
God is loving and he will do whatever it takes to rescue those who are his. He longs for them to put their hand around his finger and look up to him with wide eyes as he says, “You are mine and you were worth every second of it.”
This is but one lesson I have learned about fatherhood from the Father.