Confessions Of A Young Dad – The Wins & Losses Of Fatherhood So Far
by Jeremy Bair
Most likely every father of young children has experienced this. After a long workweek, you ﬁnally have a day off and you’re looking forward to a few extra zzz’s in the morning. Maybe you stayed up late with your bride, thinking that you would get to sleep a little longer. But instead of an alarm that usually woke you for your workweek, the creaking of your bedroom door wakes you. Through your squinted eyes you see the little ﬁngers wrap around the frame of the door and you ﬁnd yourself playing possum, hoping that what lurks behind the door will simply leave you alone because they notice you are sleeping. But slowly and surely at 6 am on your weekend, your little ones run in, waking the sleeping baby in the next room, jumping on you, dropping elbows on parts of your body that should never be smashed under any circumstance. What you thought would be a great chance to sleep in — STOLEN!
MY LOSSES IN THE CHANGES OF LIFE
When I got married at the age of twenty-seven, my wife and I quickly obeyed God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply.” Six years and three boys later, we spent those ﬁrst few years of our lives together embracing the challenges of change and the necessary loss of self. While changing from single to married to, quickly after, a young father of three crazy boys, I experienced loss in four major areas.
1. Loss of time.
Before having children, my wife and I would go to the coffee shop and just read our Bibles together. It seemed that we had plenty of time to do the things that we wanted to do. Having children changed all that.
2. Loss of convenience.
I remember the days when something as simple as going to the grocery store was as easy as getting out of the car. Those days are gone!
3. Loss of my sense of knowing everything.
It’s funny how before having kids, and before you got married for that matter, you think that you have a good grip on the realm of parenting. But with the reality of children you seem to lose that sense of having it all ﬁgured out.
4. Loss of a love for self.
Hear me out on this one. My main problem with time, convenience, and thinking I know everything, is directly connected to my love for self. But once I had children, I see that most of the time I’m simply a bigger five-year-old than my children, with the same emotional tantrums inside my heart. Having children has shown me how selﬁsh I really am, and I hate it.
IN LIFE EVERYONE LOSES
What an encouraging heading, right? Let me explain. One of the things that I’m always telling people is there are only two constants that you can rely on in life: God and change. In the realm of real life, everyone will lose something in the constantly changing world we live in. To try to maintain a life where you are unscathed by change is to live a life of futility. I’m sympathetic towards people that want to attempt to live their lives escaping changes that inevitably come around every major corner in life. I’m sympathetic because I share the same heart with the rest of humanity. Here’s the hard truth about change. When my circumstances and the world around me change in the realm of relationship and culture, I’m faced with a choice. I can choose to embrace the necessary “losses” that come with change, or ﬁght to hang on to my old, convenient, selﬁsh ways.
SPIRITUAL LOSSES VS. SPIRITUAL GAINS
In many ways it can feel very much like my children have stolen my life. It can create frustration, anger, disappointment in myself for being so selﬁsh, and many other things. But Jesus said something very important that affects all the above areas. He said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). I can easily consider my time, convenience, knowledge and self as major identifying factors of what I would call “life.” Jesus says that in order to ﬁnd real life, I must be willing to lose all these things. He said that I should not only be willing to lose these things, because this happens to everyone who has children whether they follow Jesus or not, I should willingly lay these things down for His sake. In laying down these things for Jesus, it blesses me and my kids, not circumstantially but spiritually.
Following are four areas that Jesus is already giving me gain on, which correspond to each area of loss.
1. Time to practice selﬂessness.
‘Paul tells us to redeem the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). The time I would normally spend on myself, I now get to spend discipling my children. I get to take all the hours I spent in the Word when I was single and newly married to practice what Jesus tells me to do in His Word with my sons.
2. Discipleship opportunities with my sons.
Things take so much longer when you have a three- and five-year-old asking for help with everything. I get to ﬁnd joy in the fact that I’m teaching my boys valuable life lessons, even if things I could normally get done pretty quickly now takes a little longer. Letting my boys help me with projects reminds me that God doesn’t need me to get things done, but He values the relationship.
3. Grace and wisdom.
Losing a sense of having it all ﬁgured out deﬁnitely helps me to be more sympathetic to other young dads who are having a hard time being a man and taking responsibility for their young ones. Not having it all ﬁgured out causes me to cast myself completely on God who knows all, and who loves me and my kiddos.
4. A love for Jesus.
When I see that many times I act just as selﬁshly as my three- and five-year-old, it produces a hatred for myself but then causes a love for Jesus, in the sense that I don’t get why He loves me so much. It astounds me that Jesus would die for such a selﬁsh person as myself. But He did. My children have helped me to see myself more clearly. Seeing myself more clearly helps me to see Jesus and His love for me more clearly.