Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I’ve got small kids, so there’s a chance that I’ll have a cup of coffee delivered to me in bed by a toddler. There’s a much smaller chance that I won’t step in puddles of spilled coffee once I get out of bed.
My wife is very sweet, and she may have nice things planned for the day. But it’s quite possible those plans will be thwarted by some combination of child sickness, lack of money, digestive issues, and/or general misbehavior. It’s possible that coffee won’t be the only puddle of liquid that I step in. It’s possible that the responsibilities and burdens of another day will pile up and threaten to overwhelm. There’s the potential for it to be a terrible day.
And that’s so exciting to me.
I’m a firm believer in the unity of opposites. There’s a lot to be gleaned from studying dialectics. Every significant philosopher and writer has commented on this concept at some point. The basic premise is that something can’t exist (or, at least, be quantified or understood) without its opposite. There are philosophical, spiritual, and physical approaches to the idea, but it all comes down to context. What does something mean if you’ve got nothing to compare it to? Even if you’ve never studied it in an academic context, you understand the meaning: it’s how people can say sappy things like how the sun always shines brighter after a storm.
As a younger man I embraced negativity and problems for a very different reason. I loved problems because they gave me an excuse to be volatile, to be angry, to curse the world and my circumstances instead of taking responsibility for them. I know many men who face this same problem on a regular basis. It’s a pestilence, and it’s shockingly common among young Christian men, especially fathers. We who are supposed to have at least some answers for our littles and who put on a calm face most of the time are often raging on the inside, and we look for tiny moments to let it out. Or we let it fester until it boils. Both are equally bad. You think the frog cares whether the water warms gradually or if he’s put into a pot that’s already boiling? Either way, it’s cuisses de grenouilles for dinner.
You know the feeling?
I believe we’re honed through fire. (See 1 Peter 1:3–9.) There’s no such thing as grace without suffering, no such thing as forgiveness without sin. This applies not just to faith, but to every aspect of life such that our lives are the fruit of that faith. The trials and fire of parenthood don’t exist to make us miserable men, but to assist in our continuing growth to become better men worthy of imitation by our children.
So I hope the morning sucks. I hope something goes very wrong. I hope Twin A and Twin B spill my coffee and break my new Star Trek mug while they’re at it. I hope Mister Man throws a fit when he doesn’t get to grind the coffee beans. I hope Fourth Corder is sleepless from 3 a.m. on and inconsolable even as the sun rises.
And I hope I’ve learned enough to thank my children for their efforts, to keep my anger in check and give it up in prayer instead of lashing out. I hope I can love my children in spite—even because—of the stumbles. The best Father’s Day gift my children can give me is the opportunity to keep trying to be a better father. I hope I remember tomorrow morning that I wrote this today.
Happy Father’s Day!