My life had forever changed.
I remember this moment clearer than any other time in my life.
Through tears, I saw my son for the first time. I saw this human being––who my wife (with very little help from me) harvested in her stomach for the better part of a year––emerge into this life. Eyes open, lungs working, and slimy––my son was here!
I was crazy in love!
Now, my son is one-year-old. I’ve been a dad for a whole year! I’m still a somewhat–normal functioning person.
My first year of being a dad can be summarized in one specific interaction with my son. This experience with my son had a few different teaching points for me.
Have you ever had one of those? An experience that teaches you more than you thought it could? I learned a few lessons from this 10-minute interaction with my son.
This story starts with my son crying. Isn’t that how all great parenting stories start? Anyway, he was really emotional and fussing about something. So, as a dad who loves my son, I picked him up. He would stop crying for a few seconds, but then he would want down and start crying again. So, as a dad who loves my son, I put him back down. But when I put him down, he started crying again. So, as a dad who loves my son…can you see where this is going?
I picked him up and set him down a couple of times. Full transparency, I was getting pretty upset. “Make up your freaking mind!” I thought. But then I remembered something Dr. Ted Roberts said to me.
One of my favorite parts of my job with Pure Desire (PD) is the podcasts. I have the privilege of hosting the PD Podcast and get to be a part of many great, encouraging conversations.
At one point, Dr. Ted & Diane Roberts were our podcast guests. We were talking through the history of PD and their experience in the ministry.
The topic of The Father Wound came up, and I had the urge to ask an off-the-cuff question. I asked, “How do we avoid giving our kids a Father Wound? How do we not hurt our kids?” After Dr. Ted made a joke about that never being possible, he said something tremendously impactful.
He said to me, "Always catch the bid for reconnection."
Always catch the bid for reconnection. What does that mean? It means that regardless of what goes down in your relationship with your kids, never miss the opportunity to reconnect with them. If you’re upset, if an argument has happened, if there is any strain or disconnection in the relationship—don’t miss the opportunity for reconnection.
As I was sitting there with my son, I heard the words ringing in my head, “Always catch the bid for reconnection.” So my son, crying, reaches up for me, and I understood what Dr. Ted was talking about.
Always be available, be there, be present for your kids.
Being a dad isn’t an easy job. I know, I know; moms who may be reading this might be shaking their head and letting out a big sigh. I’m not comparing the role of dads and moms. Don’t get me wrong, moms are superheroes. No way around that truth. That’s the way it is!
But being a dad is not an easy role.
There are many things that aren’t easy about being a dad, but one of my observations may be something different than what you’re thinking.
I’m not sure how often this happens with other dads, but I feel like God uses the new context of being a dad as a classroom for my growth and sanctification (sorry, big word, I was a pastor). God is constantly using my interactions with my son as teaching opportunities in my life.
This is the not–so–easy part of being a dad: God now has graduated me to a new level of learning. He has given me a new lense through which I see my life, my struggles, and my imperfections.
Through this interaction with my son, I remember hearing directly from the Lord, “This is how you act, too! How Brady is acting right now, you do this to me all the time.”
It was very sobering to hear the Lord speak truth to me, about me, and experientially show me this truth. I saw that I call out to the Lord all the time to help me, but when He picks me up and starts to comfort me, I decide I don’t need Him anymore or I personally want the credit for saving myself. So I fuss and cry until He lets me back down. But then, when I see that I need or want Him again, I begin to cry out again. I do this again and again and again.
In this moment with my son, I saw that I treat God poorly in this way. As if this isn’t a big lesson by itself, I also felt God remind me that He will always be there to pick me up. He will never get so upset with me or disappointed in me to not pick me up when I call out to Him. He never leaves me on the ground to deal with my mess. God always enters into my mess with grace, mercy, and a perfect fatherly love.
As a dad, I’ve learned to be mindful of the lessons that God teaches me about who I am, how I parent, and how God feels about me.
Anyone else want to jump into a book or chill with some Netflix after they get home from work? Be honest. I know I’m not the only one. After a day of pouring out and being constantly available, the desire to unplug and unwind is high when I pull in the driveway.
But, this is not a normal thing in everyday life. When I come home, my wife needs a break, my son needs to be fed, changed, and cared for, and dinner needs to be made. These are not situations that cater to vegging out on the couch for an hour or two.
I need to be present for my family.
As I reflected on the moment with my son in his room, I found myself thankful that he kept reaching out to me. He didn’t have to reach out for me and want to be comforted, but he did. And I wanted to be there for him. I wanted to be there when he needed me.
I realize that unless I’m present for my kid, I’ll never be there when he needs me. What if I come home every day and need to unwind or unplug from the day and my son needs to have a conversation, needs encouragement or comfort? If I’m in the room Netflixing (made up word), I won’t be there when he needs me. I won’t be there to provide a listening ear or be an encouraging dad.
I feel that God firmly pressed this truth onto my heart: you cannot be a good father if you are never present.
Again, another sobering truth, right?
God knows what He is doing when He teaches us lessons in life. I heard Him loud and clear. I need to position myself in life to be available, reachable, and present for my son. If I’m not, I won’t be a good father. I won’t be a good leader.
God is always present for me. He is always there when I need Him. But, due to my imperfection, I won’t always be there for my son. I won’t always be present for him when he needs me. That, however, doesn’t mean that I can’t actively and intentionally work to be as available as possible. I can work long, hard, and intentionally to be present for my son!
I learned three really big lessons that day in my son’s room. I have, in no way, conquered or grasped these lessons fully. But I am thankful that God has been kind, gracious, and patient as He reveals these truths about parenting to me. I am thankful for the men and women that God has surrounded me with that continually share their experiences, their wisdom, and their perspectives with me.
I look forward to the next round of lessons I’ll learn through my experience as a dad. I look forward to being schooled by the One, always-connecting, always-mindful, and always-present Father.
Trevor is the Marketing & Communications Director at Pure Desire Ministries. He has been in ministry leadership for 8 years in the areas of Worship and Student Ministries. Trevor has a bachelor's degree in Psychology and is passionate about people understanding that sexual and emotional health is possible.