When my oldest daughter was born, it was an exciting and scary winter day.
This was a long time ago, and I remember leaning against the wall in a hospital hallway in southwest Houston, chain-smoking Marlboro cigarettes with some other expectant young father. It took a while for things to start happening, but when a nurse came and told me to dress in some green hospital outfit, it was finally show time.
She took me into a delivery room, and before too long, the baby came and everyone was smiling and happy and celebrating, and then the doctor said, “Uh-oh.”
The room got really quiet.
You never want to hear a doctor or a dentist say, “Uh-oh.”
After a heart-wrenching scare having to do with cloudy corneas, everything turned out fine with Stacy, daughter no. 1, and 13 years later, I was blessed with Katy, daughter no. 2.
I love my little girls with all my heart – I would give my life for them without hesitation – but the honest truth is that I have not always been a good father. Not a bad father; just not a very good one, sometimes.
Selfishness, immaturity, and fear usually led the way in my failings at the most important responsibility and blessing I have ever been given. Fortunately, both my girls have turned out to be outstanding young women, in spite of their old man’s shortcomings.
They love me and forgive my mistakes; they are healthy and happy, hard-working and successful, and for that I am forever grateful.
A lot goes into being a good parent, and it is perhaps the most difficult job in the world, but the bottom line for success, I think, is this: “Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians: 16:14).
If I had another chance, I would certainly do some things differently, hopefully better, but what may have been my saving grace as a father was that I did do everything in love. And I think that is true with most parents. I think most parents truly love their children and want the best for them.
For a long time, I blamed my father for most of the pain and anguish I put myself through in my younger years, because my old man made a lot of mistakes with me – and he is quick to admit that now. But the truth is, he did the best he could; the best he knew how. When I was born, I am pretty confident in saying that my dad did not look at me and say, “All right, my first-born son. What can I do now to screw this kid up as much as possible?”
Of course, not. Like most parents – like me – my dad did the best he could. And he did a lot of good things.
Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
This is one way we provide our children with a good childhood, a good upbringing, a good father. Teach them right from wrong; teach them how to behave; teach them to respect their elders; teach them self-respect and to take pride in their accomplishments. Teach them how to work; teach them the value of money; teach them about love.
And perhaps the most of important of all – teach them about the love of God.
Perhaps the most well-known Bible verse in the world is this: John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
At the ripe old age of 50-something, I am still seeking answers to life’s big questions, trying to make sense of it all.
But it was the knowledge my parents gave me, taking me to church on Sundays and Wednesday nights, that gave me a foundation from which I could find my own understanding about life, death, and what comes next.
I still have a lot of questions, but one thing I do believe is that God is love.
God is love.
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