Life Lessons as a Dad - Part 4

"God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."--The Apostle James

"Love covers a multitude of sins."--The Apostle Peter

Terri had been through a very long and taxing 24 hour labor and delivery and she was bleeding excessively. As the docs were working to stop her bleeding, I held Luke in my hands for the first time. I was weeping profusely--a mixture of gratitude for his life and concern for Terri's. I was also captivated by the thought of having been given the power to "co-create" an eternal soul with the help of God himself. I was honored by being given the privilege of "discipling" someone from scratch - something I was anticipating with great joy. But poor Luke! (Bless you, son, for enduring..and overcoming...some of my early experiments in "Christian" parenting!)

Most parents I know speak about how tough they were on their first child. I remember being afraid that we were going to ruin Luke's very soul if we didn't discern and correct every mistake and imperfection he exhibited as a little boy. We were so confident in his capacity to become a "spoiled brat" - even as an infant! Talk about being ultra-intense...man, we really caught that virus!

Fortunately for both our kids and us, we learned early on that we didn't have all the wisdom we needed to be great parents and we found that being perfect parents was not something that either God or our kids expected of us. Ironically, some of the most tender moments in my relationship with my kids have come when I needed to humble myself before them and seek their forgiveness for failing them in some way. Pretending to be "the perfect parent" is actually counter-productive to being a good and wise parent.

Only God can love our kids the way they were created to be loved and we must not shield them from their need for Him and His love by inadvertently attempting to become a "god" for them or to them. (I wonder if this subtle problem is at the root of the inability of many historic fervent spiritual movements to pass on their faith in a vital way to subsequent generations?) The heavenly Father is a "jealous" Deity and He isn't excited about an earthly parent presuming to take His place in the lives of these little ones He has made! Getting this straight helps us to simply release our strong and necessary, but imperfect, parental love into our kids' hearts. This mix of real, but still human, love is then folded into the God-story and God-journey of their lives. It's especially humbling to discover that some of the pain in their hearts created by our parental imperfections can actually help lead our kids to Jesus. (This is not an excuse to become an unloving parent, but it remains a fact nonetheless.) Still, our underlying unconditional love for our children is a powerful force for good in their lives and in this broken world. May God give us the grace to model well the receiving in and giving out of the kind of love that covers a multitude of mistakes.

 

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Here is Luke with Jimmy Fallon a few years back. He got called out of the audience to play a game and caused Jimmy and his first guest to crack up due to his witty ways, which our family know about all too well. He was also more recently on The Tonight Show playing guitar for Kelly Clarkson’s band. 

Michael Sullivant