My dad isn't perfect. In fact, he, like me, is full of imperfections. He's lost the checkbook in the freezer a few times, a while ago he thought it would be a good idea to put the dog on the roof of the shed and was surprised when the dog jumped off, he leaves cups of iced tea with a swallow remaining all over the house at times, but that all makes him more like me I guess.
My wife will often say, "You act just like your dad." This may be when I say, "Well..." followed by nothing or get excitable about some joke I laughed at and nobody else did. Those are humorous things that I do and I think to myself, "Oh my gosh, I'm turning into my dad." But honestly, my dad is someone I'm more than happy turning into.
My parents raised me so well and I want to copy much of what they did when I have kids, and, because I will be a father and not a mother someday, I especially want to father like my father did. If my wife can say "You act just like your dad" while I pray every night with my children I will feel I've accomplished something great.
My dad wasn't a perfect dad but he helped me understand God's love for me.
Dad prayed with me every night before bed. I remember those prayers and much of the way I pray today is patterned on those prayers. We were always so thankful for this beautiful day at the beginning of our prayers and that taught me that every day of life is a gift from God. We made petitions to God and through that I learned what my dad wanted from God and what I should want too. We always prayed in Jesus' Name and I learned who gave us the right to go to our Father.
Dad cared for people that many others did not. I recall the mentally handicapped people that Dad gave his genuine attention. I remember the "weird people" that were/are drawn to him because they were not threatened or judged by him. I remember picking up a hitchhiker or two and Dad saying, "Don't tell your mom." My dad, perfectly and imperfectly, demonstrated that everybody has worth... that God's love extends to those that society's doesn't.
Dad was transparent in front of me. I watched my dad fail or stumble a few times. He'd lose his temper or put his foot in his mouth and I got to see it. I've also gotten to see him grow to be more patient, self-controlled and merciful through the years. My dad let me see that God works in our lives to grow us and I'm thrilled because I have a lot of room to grow.
Fathers, do your children understand God's love more because of you? Does the way that you care for your children model God's love for them? Are you a pattern for spiritual growth for them? Would you like your children to turn into you someday? Does your love for their mother model Christ's love for the Church?
I'm not a father yet, but the questions above already keep me up some nights. Fatherhood is a high calling and we all need God's help to do it right.
Since I'm not yet a father I won't give any advice except this one thing: pray with and for your children. I've already decided that if I don't pray nightly with my children I've failed. Pray with your kids and for your kids. Model for them how to talk to their Father. Show them what you love and desire. And pray that God does for them the things that you can't, pray that God helps them understand how much He loves them.
Happy Fathers' Day today!