I fist became a father in May of 2012. It was a euphoric experience but was also coupled with a wholly new and unfamiliar feeling of concern as there is now someone in the world that is completely dependent upon me for physical, mental and social development. As I look back on my short five year experience of fatherhood I would say the most important thing a father provides for his children is balance. He provides a sense of stability and foundation upon where they can erect a life of their own. A father is the North Star as child charts their course through life.
A father is caring and passionate but not overly emotional, strong but not stubborn, optimistic but not delusional, a fierce protector and advocate for his own family but not unaware and insensitive to the needs of the community around him. As a father strives to hold these qualities in their appropriate measure and apply them at the appropriate time he becomes a guide and model to his children as they seek more often to imitate his actions rather than follow his directions. Interestingly C.S. Lewis described this ideal of balance of character as the classic sense of chivalry. He says the sentiment was best captured in the description of the knight Lancelot. In the book “The Death of King Arthur” it is said of Lancelot, “Thou wert the meekest man that ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou wert the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest.” Meek yet stern, I think this captures perfectly what a father provides for his children. Lewis notes that if it is impossible to create men of this kind “then all talk of any lasting happiness or dignity of human society is pure moon shine.” I think the same goes for strong children and families, their happiness and dignity will be secured by men of the chivalrous tradition. Fathers, who through self-discipline can exemplify passion yet with suitable discretion.
I once heard a comedian say that, “Children are God’s payback to parents because now they will know what it feels like to have someone made in their image yet deny their existence.” Although I see the humor in this statement, I must admit it speaks profoundly to me because becoming a father has continually strengthened my Christian faith. Generally, children are born having done nothing to earn or deserve the love, care and attention they receive from their parents. As they grow they are often disobedient, troubling and exhausting, which demands a father’s training, discipline and patience. They lack an ability to perceive danger consequently they need their father’s protection. Similarly, they cannot provide for themselves so they need their father’s sacrifice and provision. Yet through all of the work, toil and sacrifice the result of watching a child grow is truly joyous.
Reflection upon these times and experiences of fatherhood remind me that I am loved by God through no merit of my own. Like a loving father God dispenses discipline, training and patience to me exactly when needed and in the exact measure appropriate. Spiritually I am horrible at recognizing danger and must rely on His protection. Furthermore there was nothing I could do to provide for myself in Gods eyes and so He provides the ultimate sacrifice through His son Jesus Christ. I can only hope that through my varied situations and experiences His joy will be found in my life.
This article was published with additional photos at Reel Urban News