Friday, June 13, 2014

Two Men I'm Thankful for this Father's Day

In our culture, 'manliness' is a word that brings to mind images clear as mud. Good men stand out like lighthouses in the fog. As I think of the men in my life, I am thankful. I’m thankful that I’ve known men who are loving, kind and unafraid to go against the prevailing tide of confusion.

My Dad
My Dad is kind of a tough guy. Not a jerk. Just seemingly not afraid of...anything. He’s a cop who is regularly exposed to horrible and evil things. He’s a Christian leader who counsels people through messy situations. He fights for justice and what he sees as right. It’s pretty hard to shake this guy up. I don’t remember ever seeing him cry, although, my wedding pictures reveal unshed tears as he walked me down the aisle.

My Father loves me. The way he plunged himself into the herculean task of fatherhood leaves me with no doubt. I see now what I couldn’t understand as a child; he habitually set his own needs aside to care for his family.  From the time I was young, he took great care, not only to make sure I was fed and physically safe, but also in the care of my soul. He invested hefty amounts of time in helping me to understand God, myself and the world around me. 

We had house rules, but the truth is, my dad was as soft as pudding when it came to his kids. Even as I grew up, he was the kind of Dad that would leave work and drive his university-going daughter from campus to her downtown ballet class...just so he could spend some time with her. He cared about what was going on in my life and talked me through many issues. Not once did he shrug off anything that was important to me as “silly girl stuff.” If it was important to me, he would help me figure it out.

My Kids’ Dad

My own husband is a remarkable father to our three boys. He’s hard on them in the sense of encouraging them to do things outside of their comfort zone, but surprisingly tenderhearted when they are wounded or hurting. It’s not unusual for a boy having a nightmare or having a bad day at school to want his father over his mother. My boys know that if they’re having trouble, their dad will not brush off their ideas or belittle them.

He teaches them about cowboy culture, playground bullies and how to draw trees like Leonardo da Vinci. It’s not uncommon for topics to range from ancient battles to the Greek alphabet to Johnny Cash. 

What the bible teaches about spirituality is a daily topic of conversation. He is not afraid to point them to a better father, namely, “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” And my boys know that this is the topic that holds the most weight with their dad.

They learn by his example what humble leadership looks like. Between church and family, opportunities abound to see their Dad in action, and here is what they see: 

  • a man who leads with compassion, courage and wisdom 
  • a man who does not blame-shift or shirk responsibility, but makes hard decisions and accepts responsibility for the consequences. 
  • a man that nourishes and cherishes those in his care
  • a man who cares little what people think of him, but cares greatly for their souls
  • a man who values all kinds of people because his "God shows no partiality." (Rom. 2:11)  

The men in my life didn't learn about manhood on the pages of Maxim or GQ magazine. They model their lives after the one Man, Jesus Christ, who has the power to turn back the tide. They have tasted the unconditional adoptive love of God the Father, and the transforming work of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their own hearts, and extend this grace--this family love--to those around them.

It's hard to overestimate the blessings of a good dad. As poet, George Herbert, once said: "One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters."