When I was a kid, maybe 7 or 8, my Dad did something that has impacted the way I view parenting more than anything else.
It was a Sunday – Father’s Day – in Texas, probably a million degrees outside with a humidity of 2 million. We went to church, as usual, and got back into the car. I was sure we were not headed to eat somewhere I enjoy, since Dads liked to eat foods other than cheese pizza, which I never understood as a kid.
My dad told us we were headed somewhere as a surprise. I could only imagine what a surprise my dad was in favor of would entail – something to do with golf or ketchup, I assumed. Needless to say, I settled in for the long day of “honoring Dad” ahead of me.
After about 20 minutes, we pulled up to the surprise location and reluctantly got out of the 1992 Astro Van to face our doom.
Standing in front of my 7-year-old, cheese pizza loving self and my shocked siblings, was Chuck E. Cheese.
I was so confused. I just looked at him and asked if we were supposed to go in . . . It was still possible this was some super sad practical joke, of course.
I’m sure I remember the following exchange far more dramatically than it actually played out, but this is what is burned in my memory as how my dad responded:
He got down on his knees, took my little blonde head in his hands, looked me in the eye and said, “There is nothing I would rather do on Father’s Day than to be with my kids while they have the best day ever!”
There is nothing I would rather do.
Listen. I’m a mom. I know now that there are LOTS OF THINGS parents would rather do on ANY GIVEN DAY than go to Chuck E. Cheese or [insert any other kid-focused establishment here].
I don’t think that’s what my dad meant. The location didn’t matter at all – the environment didn’t matter at all – the menu didn’t matter at all – it was us that mattered.
See, what my Dad wanted to celebrate on “his day” were the people who made him a Father.
We live in a world that is so, very focused on what we are or what we can be that we miss what MAKES US WHAT WE ARE – or better, WHO.
We have all been created by a master Creator. We have been shaped and formed from dust into masterpieces so intricate, that humanity is still baffled by miracles unexplained by all our modern scientific knowledge. And, on top of that, in the words of John Mark Comer, “we are each bursting with raw, uncut potential.” We have no idea what it is we are capable of.
As a working mom of 2 little kids, I rarely have “me time.” Today, I had a few hours alone. I’ve been tired, so I took a nap. These are not the times I believe I am bursting with potential.
These are the times I am so focused on what I am, and concerned about what I can be that I forget what matters – the one who makes me what I am . . .
I am focused on the location I am in my story, or the environment around me, or the details of what I must accomplish – and I get tired.
Selfishness will do that to you.
What my dad taught me on that Father’s Day taught me a lot about parenting and sacrifice and love, but it also taught me a lot about God.
The God who formed me, is shaping me, and who designs my potential wants nothing more than to be with me. He is a Good Father who is kneeling down, holding my face in his capable hands whispering, “there is nothing I would rather do than to be with you.”
And, today, there is nothing I would rather do than to be with him. Quietly experiencing the peace of knowing I am loved, wanted and challenged to grow into all my Creator has designed me to be.