In my own life, I’ve come to realize that although I believe I’ve been a good dad, there is a better dad that can yet emerge.
Recently, both my daughters came home again. After being away at college Mary got a job in DC, and after working a couple years in Baltimore Christine came home for a few weeks before going back to school. When the girls come home, it’s just like something that was out of joint in the universe slips back into place and everything is as it should be.
Knowing what it was like when they left before, I was dreading their leaving again. Yes, Linda and I have a very nice life as empty nesters, and it has been a particularly sweet time in our relationship. And yes, I know it’s right and good and as it should be that our daughters go off and develop a life of their own. But when they leave, I feel very sad in their absence.
So, unconsciously, I began to protect myself from that sorrow. I adopted a grumpy old curmudgeon persona. That let me keep my real feelings buried deep inside so I didn’t have to deal with them. It let me “show affection” by being clueless, gruff, sarcastic, and teasing.
But one day just a few weeks ago I sought out that quiet place within me, creating a space where I could sense God with me and grow clearer as to what he wanted to emerge in my heart and my life. And all of a sudden it hit me: If what I really wanted to do was show my daughters affection, why didn’t I just show my daughters affection?
Why be so cowardly and dishonest about it? I had this distinct sense that God did not want me to go on being indirect, hiding my true feelings behind a crotchety façade. He wanted me to be honest, to say what really needed to be said, to tell my daughters outright how much I love them, how proud of them I am in, and how very much I’m going to miss them.
In short, God wants me to be a good dad. And good dad’s don’t play mind games with their wives and their children. They are generous in expressing love and affection, and they “use their words”. They don’t leave their daughters with any question at all of where they stand in their father’s heart.
And so for the last weeks while my daughter were home, I did my best to let go of the curmudgeon persona, to let the grumpy old man die. By God’s grace and with his help I made a point every chance I got of letting this new and better dad be born—even at 55, even with my kids grown. It is never too late.
I figure if I had any hope of bringing God’s love to the world, it had to start with me doing a better job of bringing it to my family.
What is it that want to emerge in your life? Whatever it is, may God grant you the grace to live by faith and make it so.