By: Vincent Weaver
“George” didn’t really know what he was getting into becoming a dad early in life. He met a young woman; they had some good times, but before long, they found out she was pregnant. Both wanting to do the “right thing”, they got married. Not long after that, their baby boy was born.
They worked odd jobs here and there and their young family was getting by. A year or so later, they were pregnant again – a girl this time – little “Susie”! All seemed to be going okay for a while, but as time went on, George and his wife weren’t getting along, and the marriage fell apart.
Trying to do his best by his kids, George attained primary custody of his children and worked tirelessly to provide for them. He also tried to find ways to have fun with them. With his son, this felt pretty natural. With his daughter, Susie, well, that was a different story. His confidence was lacking when it came to his daughter, and over time, Susie sensed this and decided to go back and live with her mother. George reluctantly agreed.
In the meantime, George received an annulment and met his true love. He was married and along came several more kids! George loved and enjoyed all of his children, though he felt pretty overwhelmed at times. His marriage wasn’t always smooth, but he and his wife persisted – through the good times and bad – just like they said in their vows.
As time went by, George and Susie grew apart (and she became a teenager), and ultimately, she made some decisions that really upset him. When Susie was unresponsive to her dad’s attempts to re-direct her behavior, George just chose to stop speaking to her.
This was crushing to Susie. She craved the affection and contact with her father, but he wanted nothing to do with her. So, Susie sought that attention from other men in her life, and experienced a long chain of disappointing, unfulfilling, and often hurtful relationships. All the while, Susie set her pride aside and continued to reach out to her father, even though she was rejected by him over and over again.
The story could end there, but it doesn’t. You see, years went by and many people were praying for both George and Susie. Then one day, George decided to respond to Susie’s outreach efforts. They reconciled and an overwhelming sense of healing came over the two of them, as well as the whole family, who had been deeply affected by this rift over the years.
By no means was George a model father to Susie. But by the grace of God, Susie never gave up on her dad. (Not all dads are so lucky.) And even though many opportunities were missed, many moments lost, and much pain was experienced – George ultimately responded to his calling as a dad. He showed up.
All of us who are dads have that opportunity to “show up” every day. Our kids crave our affection, our time, our playfulness, and our protection. No one is saying we have to be perfect, but if we make a daily commitment to show up and just do our best at “being a dad”, our kids will benefit for a lifetime.
What does that mean – to “show up”? It means dying to oneself. Stop kidding yourself into thinking that being a workaholic is “for my family”. Your kids need you more than your clients (or golfing buddies) do. A cool car won’t benefit you or your kids nearly as much as a memorable vacation in that old minivan. And when your child wants to talk – take advantage of that moment. If you absolutely can’t right then, set a time that you will talk soon afterwards, and honor that commitment.
George waited many years to respond to his call to show up. Our call is now. Do you hear that call? “Daaa-dyyyy!”