Seven years ago, my wife and I were in a barren place, both literally and metaphorically. Our efforts to start a family seemed to be in vain and our marriage was on the rocks. But these past seven years have taught me that difficulty and adversity are common denominators for anything deeply rewarding. At least that’s what I have to remind myself of, now, as a father to four kids under the age of seven.
Being a dad is the most frustrating and exhausting thing I have ever endeavored. Every day is a new opportunity for them to push the boundaries and test the limits and my patience. In fact, when compared to fatherhood, running a business, speaking in front of a crowd, writing a book, or tackling a half Ironman seem easy.
But at the same time, being a father is the most deeply rewarding part of my life. Whether you realize it or not, your kids depend on you.
Fighting For Our Kids
I was at my office when my wife called to tell me that one of our three-year-old twins was lying on the pool deck throwing a fit worthy of his own reality show. Who would have thought a swim float could cause so much drama?
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. The voice of sarcasm begged and the cry of apathy was loud, but I chose a different response. My responsibilities at work could wait.
Or there was the time when our other twin refused to go upstairs and take a bath. While I wanted to scream and threaten, I chose to wait it out and sit with him.
These represent the countless opportunities to fight with our kids. But fighting with our kids never solves anything. Instead, we have to be willing to fight for them. It’s important to know the difference.
Their defiant, test-the-system, bull-headedness, will be one of their most beneficial traits if we learn how to help them cultivate it. We just have to surrender our sarcasm and our work and our agenda and our iPhone long enough to fight.
While it’s important to tell our kids what to do and what not to do, it’s far more important to help them understand who they want to become. That will only happen when we’re in their corner.
Parents, we are paving the road for our sons and daughters to walk on. A road that is built upon a foundation of confidence that we are worth following. They will know that we are worth following by our willingness to fight for them.
A Reflection of the Father
I’m beginning to love parenting so much because it is a refection of my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
In the picture of Jesus, we see that the Father’s love was so strong that He came down to fight with us. He didn’t leave us here, alone, to follow rules and obey laws. He came alongside us in the trenches—in the confines of skin and sin and death.
He wept with us. He bled with us. He fought with us.
And that’s why we follow His lead—because He is willing to fight alongside us.
That is the image we must bear to our children.
This morning, my son, who defiantly fought me earlier in the week, reached up and grabbed my hand as we walked through a sporting good’s store. It was firm reassurance. He knows we are in this together.
Although he didn’t say it out loud, I believe he was thinking, “Dad, I will follow you because you fight for me.”
That is why I continue to fight and challenge you to do the same.
Because that’s what our Father did for us.