The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful! Proverbs 23, verses 24 and 25.
I’m a dad and for those of you who aren’t, I’ll give you a peek behind the secret curtain: I love my kids no matter what. I sincerely hope you have/had a dad who felt this way because it makes all the difference in the world. If you still have little kids, well, you aint seen nothin yet; if your kids are grown, then you’ll probably agree with me. There are challenges with every age, but it rarely gets easier as they get older. Kids will do their level best to put you through the wringer just by being themselves. They’ll fuss and break rules; they’ll back-talk, fight, and push your limits; they’ll get arrested, kicked out of school, join gangs, do drugs, smoke, drink, and become promiscuous. They will turn their backs on things you believe in, and they will mock whatever pleases them.
In other words, they’ll act like me and you.
Through it all, I love them no matter what. I really do. I get so mad at them I could crunch glass between my teeth. And there are times when I am so frustrated with them that I could scream. Doesn’t matter: when I let the clouds of anger pass by, I love them no matter what. It always comes back to that. They’re my kids; they’re part of me. I love them unconditionally. I may not like them sometimes, and I really may not like some of what they do, but I love them no matter what.
I imagine that’s how God feels about you and I.
But I have to tell you another secret: I’m especially proud when I see my kids doing the right thing. They’re good kids with a background of morality behind them, struggling in a world full of sins and struggles. They slip and they fall. Actually, they stand on the ledge overlooking a tempting, beautiful cesspool called “life” and they jump into it in a screaming cannonball. Those times make me wince because it’s damn hard to watch your kids make mistakes. It’s even harder to pull yourself back and let the inevitable happen, knowing how much it’s going to hurt them and you.
The times that make me proudest, though, are the ones when they stand on that ledge, then decide, “um, not today” and back away from it. I could burst with pride. Then there are the times when they stick up for weaker or bullied kids, especially when they’ve been bullied themselves. Makes my eyes tear up I am so proud. Or when they listen and just hold a friend as they cry. That makes me cry. I’m so very proud of them when they plan ahead, save for tomorrow, and do the right thing without anyone looking. There is hope for them because they have integrity. I’m even prouder when they stand up for what they believe.
Kind of like you and me sometimes, you know?
When they do that, I know great joy. I rejoice in them, knowing that God has lived through me and into their lives. Faith has taken root in their lives and it means something to them because they do something with it. Their mom rejoices as well, beaming with pride at knowing the life she shared into them is moving along a right and honorable path. Moms are just as important as dads, you know, maybe more. She shines when they shine. My kids are becoming independent young believers in a hard old world, but they have ‘the stuff’ that it takes to succeed in that hard world no matter what it sets against them. That’s something to be proud of.
A few years ago, I went to a wedding reception where the best man was the brother of the groom. Said best man gave his toast, saying how happy he was to be able to stand beside his brother as both a brother in family and a brother in Christ. He said they had learned that from their parents. That’s the kind of relationship I want with my kids; it’s the kind I hope I’ve inspired in them. I doubt I’ll ever win any ‘dad of the year awards’ because all too often I’ve been a crabby, angry, poopy old man. But I’d match my kiddos against any in the world. I love ‘em unconditionally, I rejoice in them, and I want them to know how they always make me proud, especially when they live in the Spirit.