I remember my mother telling me as a teenager, “When you have your own children I hope they act just like you did when you were little…” At the time I sat back, laughing and thinking to myself, “Ha! Like that will happen…”
Well, yeah… that happened…
Try as I might to avoid it, my little boys act an awful lot like their old man and it’s not always pretty. I find myself correcting them for things they do and the words echo back to me through the Holy Spirit. And then there’s the tempers… boy do those kids explode when their plans go awry. I’d say it wouldn’t be as frustrating if I didn’t recognize the same temper in myself and I am forced to humble myself and acknowledge that I sometimes act like a 1-year-old who just got his paci taken away.
I’ve noticed in my interactions with my sons that there is often a disconnect between what I know and how I act. Over the last few years God has helped me to see Him more as a loving Father, which sounds obvious but it really wasn’t for me. I always saw Him as the all-powerful, all-knowing God, and the great Kind but I always had trouble with seeing Him as a Father. Part of that was probably the result of my biological Father passing away when I was very young. Sure I had my grandfather and later on my step-father who are both amazing men, but during those formative years I missed out on having a loving father at home. I didn’t see God in that way and so I had trouble mirroring Him to my boys.
God is patient. He is kind. He is gentle and gives to us what we need and corrects us in just the right way at just the right time. As I said in my New Year’s Dedication post, I have not always been patient. I can honestly say that I’ve not always been kind or gentle, and often I have to go back and apologize to my sweet boys for disciplining them in the wrong way or at the wrong time.
The Mirror Effect
What’s cool, however, is in the midst of getting it wrong as a dad God will speak to us in spite of our insufficiency. When I have said things or acted in a way that I know was wrong and I apologize to my kids, they testify to God’s grace. They are always so quick to forgive and move on. They don’t hold on to what just happened, even if it’s happened repeatedly because I’ve been too stubborn to listen to what God was telling me. What happens is an opportunity for repentance in which God reveals Himself more fully, giving us the opportunity to reflect His goodness to our children.
I know that a lot of what I am writing is kind of vague and can apply to a variety of situations, but I guess that’s kind of the point. We’re supposed to be like God to our children, loving them as He loves us and that manifests itself in a myriad of ways throughout everyday life. As Christian dads we have a responsibility to check ourselves; to be open to correction, humble in repentance, and to watch our little mirrors as they reflect the example we’re setting.