Monday, October 29, 2012

Standing your ground...doing your job

Yesterday, my daughter and I spent the afternoon together and she told me that she was in the middle of her first-ever broken heart. She had a crush on a young man in her class and they went on a date a while back. (Her first date ever)
My daughter is an introspective, thoughtful young woman. She wasn't in a hurry to get in a relationship, and at 14 I am thankful. She isn't needy like so many girls her age are. She isn't needy because from the day she entered this world, I have told her she was beautiful, she was smart, and that she was deeply loved. She has never had to look beyond her daddy to see her worth and to find a loving heart and so she has never had the hole in her that other girls have. She didn't rush into anything, and because of this, the boy sort of lost interest. Now he seems like a good kid so I don't think it was a case of her not being willing to do anything untoward, it was more a situation where I think he thought she just didn't dig him.
So apparently he moved on and found someone else. She found out this weekend that he has a girlfriend and it hurt her. So I did what a dad should do and I went into my Paul Dooley-in-"16 Candles"-mode (he played Molly Ringwald's dad and had the great conversation about "Oily Bohunks and why they call them crushes") and tried to comfort her. I gave her a big hug and it was the first time in a long time she hugged me back...for a long while. She needed her dad. Her mom can be her confidant in a situation like this but it's the hug of her dad that makes it better. A little girl learns her inner value from her father, and dads...that can't happen if you aren't there.
She was 18 months old when her mom and I divorced. There was more than one time when I thought about leaving and becoming a long distance dad. But my heart wouldn't permit it. I am glad I stayed. My daughter needed a bear hug from the first man who ever loved her and the only one who will love her all her life. She didn't need a phone call or a Skype visit. She needed ME...right THEN.
Men...your dreams and goals were shuffled into second place the moment you became a father. All our lives they will fight to regain primacy. Don't let that happen. Stay where you belong no matter how hard it is. Because in the end, your sons need to see manhood modeled by the first man they ever knew. And your daughters need their dad to hug them, and to remind them how beautiful they always have been and to make everything better.
Stand your ground.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Broken Fatherhood...

Funny title. I thought of it yesterday. I might even change the radio show to this.
This is how it feels though. Like my fatherhood is broken.
I went for a long walk tonight. I like walking when I want to think and contemplate. Tonight was nice and cool and I had the park to myself. I was thinking about my Christmas book and trying to mull over a sermon I am putting together built around the book.
So I was thinking about the Christmas book...which in turn led me to think about Christmas...which in turn started me thinking about how not much about my life is as I'd hoped and dreamed it would be at 49...which finished with me thinking about "My Broken Fatherhood".
I'm 49. I always thought that by this time I'd have been married about 25 years and had 3 kids and they'd be off in college now and the love of my life and I would be successful and maybe taking nice trips and dreaming about the next phase of our lives.
Instead I find that after 13 years of being divorced, I am becoming more reclusive and more detached from the dating life.
Part of it...most of that it feels almost wrong of me to find happiness. I know it would require me to share my heart with someone else and there is precious little room in there for anyone besides my daughter.
I also know that it is likely that I would marry someone with a child or children and that seems wrong...because I'd end up spending more time with someone elses kids than I do with my own daughter.
And maybe it feels wrong because I don't want to allow myself to feel happiness. I don't understand that part.
I didn't initiate my divorce and I didn't deserve it. I made plans and dreamed dreams and the person I dreamed them with decided to make them come true with someone else. I was left holding the bag and paying the price. I doubt my ex ever spent one sleepless night over our divorce but I have had many.
The wolf hour came early and often for about 8 years after we split.
Maybe it's that it took so long and maybe it's that I don't want to expose my heart to hurt again and maybe it's the reasons about my daughter. But I just don't feel like bothering to try again. I feel like I'm becoming a curmudgeonly old man who loves his solitude and will one day be sitting on my porch for hours yelling at the neighbors kids to stay off my lawn. Like maybe I'm going to turn into Clint Eastwoods Walter Kowalski...gruff and tired and desiring isolation.
Divorce is like someone taking your favorite picture and erasing all the color. It's just a black and white's not a portrait.
My heart is toughened now and maybe that's for the best. But I fear that one day I'll wake up and be 68 years old and wish I had remarried. That will be too bad.
God hates divorce, the Bible tells us. But He doesn't hate divorcees. He just hates the emotional landmines it leaves us walking through.
Being married and being a father were all I ever wanted in life. At 49 I find myself divorced, fearing relationships almost entirely...and because of all this it feels like even my fatherhood is broken.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wholly Holy

Peter admonishes us in 1 Peter 1:15, "But in the way that He who has called you is holy, so you should be holy in every aspect of your life. Because it is written, "You be holy because I am holy".

Dad's...I wrestled with this verse for so many years. I thought it was a very legalistic command to live a pious, perfect life, free of even the remotest form of humanity, much less sin.
But I was reading my way through A.W. Tozer's wonderful little book, "The Knowledge of the Holy" which is a study on the attributes of God, and I finally--after many years--grasped what Peter was saying.
Tozer makes the case...appropriately so...that God is all of His attributes fully, and all at once. In other words He is not Holy sometimes and Omniscient others. Or Just sometimes but Sovereign others. He is all of the things He is and He is all of them all at once. He chooses to show us one attribute over another sometimes but those attributes are still totally at work all at once.
It took a while but I finally understood what Peter was saying when he said; "But in the same way He who called you is Holy, you be Holy..."  God is Holy all at once and His Holiness winds it's way through every other attribute and aspect of His being.
And so the charge from Peter. We should be holy. Holy in everything we do. There shouldn't be any areas where we aren't seeking to exude the Holy imprint of God in our lives. It's difficult to imagine how we can really be Holy. But remember...Holiness is not something we possess. It comes from God and it renders us Holy by contact. Remember when Moses first met God, in the form of the burning bush? God told him to take off his shoes because the very dirt he was walking on was Holy. How was that true? Was it special dirt? No. It was dirt just like the rest of the mountain was...until God showed up. When the presence of God descended on the mountain and lit upon the bush, His holiness became the holiness of the entire mountain. That is how it happens with us.
As dad's, sometimes we can close off areas of our lives and only open them when our children are around us. We aren't trying to be deceitful or duplicitous, we just compartmentalize. But we can't do this. We need Holiness in every aspect of our lives, from our fatherhood, to our jobs, to our citizenship in our country, to our activity in our churches to our workplace and on and on. Holiness doesn't mean rigid simply means a purity that comes from God Himself. The fragrance of our faith in Christ should permeate every single aspect of our lives...even the things we barely pay attention to. Things like our attitude in traffic (a trouble spot for me) to our smile and gentleness in the check out line in the grocery store, to the way we handle our finances and our assets, to the respect we show our children's mom and on and on.
Holy living doesn't mean being perfect. It doesn't even mean trying to be perfect. It means living out of a center of focus on Jesus Christ and His person and the Holiness of His Father God, through the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit.
That last phrase is really a key. Think of the third person of the Trinity...say that name thoughtfully. "The Holy Spirit". Literally it is "The Spirit (or power, or attitude) of God's Holiness" If I am filled up inside with the very attitude of Holiness of God Himself, then it simply must permeate my whole life.
Dad's...and all believers...are you Holy in all areas of living. Do we do everything we do in a way that points to Jesus Christ? It's hard. But I am trying.
Dad's, make a short list of a few area's where you could really use to surrender your way of living to more Holiness.
Here are mine:
     *Prayer life. I know prayer is vital and I pray each morning and evening but I could use more time and effort here. More serious pursuit of God in prayer...especially more sitting quietly and listening for His voice. This is an integral part of prayer as much as asking for things is. I need to model this in front of my daughter so it's a habit she develops too.
     *Kindness. I am stressed so often and it makes my fuse quite short. A life infused with the Holy Spirit will show more kindness and patience. I need to work on this more and let my daughter see her dad as a kind, and Christ-like man.
     *Faith. I need the Holiness of God to be the core of a large life of faith. I want my daughter to see a dad who believes big, asks big and trusts a big God for big answers.

Let's be determined to be holy, men. Let's let the Holy Spirit enter into every area of our hearts...even the loneliness, pain, and emptiness of post-divorced life. Because that is how He will make something wonderful come from it all.

Let's be wholly Holy.