So it was Father's Day again last Sunday, and to be honest I'm not entirely sure what to think of it - I am still trying to find my role as a father I guess. This is not to say I do not enjoy being a father. I love being Erich's dad. I am overjoyed, for instance, when I come home and Erich runs down the hall to greet me with a gigantic hug. I love to hear him talk, and I love reading him bedtime stories. But, I am talking more on a spiritual level. I find that as I mature into the role of being a father, I am also reflecting on what it means to be father.
I have often meditated on the parable of the prodigal son and contemplated which character I most relate to. As I think was Jesus' intention when he told the parable, I find myself identifying with each character as I go through the course of life.
In the past, I often found myself relating to each of the sons. In my youth, I could relate with the prodigal son who wanted to distance himself from his parents and wanted to try things on his own. As I matured and especially when I experienced the separation of my parents in my 20s, I related much more to the elder son who seemingly 'did everything right' and despised the wayward ways of the younger son. In perhaps a great ironic twist, for me that wayward son was my father. It wasn't fair (I have often thought) that I should have to stay around to clean up this mess that my dad left around particularly when he is supposed to be the father.
But the funny thing was the more I despised, the more I also felt like the younger son again - determined to strike it out on my own and "make it" despite my circumstances. Also, like the younger son, making it on your own isn't always so glorious and so I have often contemplated what life would be like in the loving arms of a dad who truly loves me.
Nowadays, I find myself going through yet another change in who I identify with. As I adjust to my new role as a father, I find myself reexamining all that I think a father should be, and trying to sort out what things are as they should be and what things are merely a longing and a reflection of what I did not have as a child. It is interesting to say the least. For example, I dream about bringing Erich on father-son only camping trips and doing dad things but mostly things I cannot do with him until he is much older. I often wonder if this is because those are some of the positive things of my childhood and therefore things I long for? Then reality strikes and I have to convince myself to think of things that would be great things to do with him now at his present age.
Other things I am also learning: how to be a compassionate and loving father yet manage the art of discipline? There are times when I can't wait to "spoil" Erich and go to great lengths to find him a new toy or something to make him smile. There are other times (particularly when he is mr. cranky-i-haven't-gotten-my-nap-today pants) when I have just about had enough. Then, there are those times when he will do something he knows is wrong, but does it anyway after deciding that the consequences are 'worth it'.
Of course, from a Christian standpoint, these are also things that our Abba Father has to deal with from us! Oh how I admire how He does it! And I guess, in the end, that is what gives us comfort - the ability to look up, see and call on the perfect example of Fatherhood. :)
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.- 1 Peter 1:13-17 NIV