The Peace Corps came up with the motto “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love”. With respect to them, I think another job deserves that title.
The “toughest job that I love” in my life is being a Dad.
Some guys make Fatherhood look really easy. They have 5 (or 8) kids. All of their children behave like little angelic beings. The Dad simply speaks and the kids do what he says. It’s almost like these men were given the secret diagrams for the 80’s T.V. infomercial sensation “The Clapper”. They took these schematics and engineered a way to implant it in tiny humans. I have a deep respect and awe for guys like that. It just so happens that I am not one of them.
On the other side, I regularly see the pain in the lives of young people who have grown up without a loving Father. The wounds they carry with them can last a lifetime. Sadly, this is becoming the norm in our society. Sometimes when people tell me their stories I silently think to myself, “How in the world are you even functioning right now?!”
I become overwhelmed by looking at either extreme. When I compare myself to the “perfect” Dads, I feel inadequate. I start asking myself things like, “Why did my son just spill all his yogurt drink on the couch when he knows he’s not allowed to even have that drink on the couch in the first place?” (It’s not like that just happened last night or anything) Then my mind turns to “What kind of Dad lets his kid spill his yogurt drink all over the couch?!” “I bet this never happens to ‘Mr. Perfect Dad'”.
When I compare myself to the Dads who have caused their children a lot of pain, I begin to live in fear. “What if I mistakenly do that to my kids?”, I wonder. Letting myself linger too long there can be paralyzing.
I guess comparing myself to other Dads is never really helpful. It seems the only way to be the kind of Dad that I am called to be is to experience the perfect love of a Perfect Dad. I can’t pass on to my kids something that I don’t have. My hope is that I will increasingly internalize God’s love in my life. After all, that is what I want my kids to experience most in their lives. As much as I love them, their Real Dad loves them more!
Being a Dad is really tough, but it’s opened my heart to love in ways that I never knew existed before.