As children, in our own unique ways, we all dream about happily ever after. We daydream, hoping to become the hero who gets the girl or stare out the window wishing for love that is never anything less than perfect. Our version of perfect.
Have you ever thought about what a perfect love on this rock we call earth might look like? When you think of perfect love, who do you think of? I don’t know about you, but when I think of perfect love, my thoughts go to Adam and Eve.
An interesting choice for “perfect love” you might say; but Adam and Eve, while best known for the single worst mistake in history, were still the first couple ever made for each other in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual sense. God made Eve especially for Adam. She was made for him and she was made from him. Their relationship was God’s creation and despite the whole fruit thing, they created life together.
I have a love story to tell you about. While I have never ran into a burning castle on a white horse to save the damsel and my wife has never fought to save me from some wicked queen. We have turned lemons into lemonade many days. She has an amazing ability to bring the greatest smiles to the faces of our boys. Don’t get me wrong, we bicker, debate and argue from time to time. We don’t go dancing on Friday nights or wake every morning to bright sunshine and birds singing on our windowsill. I’m demanding, stubborn and arrogant. She can be passive-aggressive. I watch too much NASCAR and she has seen every Hallmark Christmas movie. But while the two of us are far from perfect, we love each other every day. God created our marriage in His perfect manner, in His perfect way as only He can do.
God tells us in 1 John 4:12, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete (perfected) in us.” So even though Adam and Eve might be considered the epitome of imperfection, even though Adam probably forgot to take out the trash and Eve probably forgot to wash his sheepskin shorts now and then, their imperfection was made perfect in their love for one another. No matter how flawed they were, their marriage was created in perfect love because the Master created it and He dwelt within the midst.
Don’t stress about living up to the fairy tale. Your love story, no matter how simple or how elaborate, was designed by God. He perfected it. He wrote it. He even illustrated it and signed his name on your copy. He’s the author and the perfecter. (Hebrews 12:2)
“Happily ever after” won’t always come with white horses, perfect hair and theme music. Most of the time, it comes with sweat pants, ball caps and minivans. And that’s okay, in fact it's more than okay, because if it comes from God, it’s perfect and nothing less. Perfect love, from a perfect God.
See You Sunday.
We all leave the hospital and climb into the car / truck / minivan with our baby, with the new baby scent, and tell our wife, “He’s the best thing we’ve ever done.” And it’s true.
Fast-forward 15 years: This time I’m in the driver’s seat while he’s in the back seat arguing with his younger brother. Then someone spills a water bottle because they can’t find the cap. I get blamed for bringing the wrong snacks. The volume escalates and so does my blood pressure. Then Mad Dad arrives.
I don’t like being Mad Dad, but I’ve discovered I usually get mad for two reasons.
1. Because of their behavior. Disobedience, disrespect, whining, fighting, and irresponsible behavior lead me to yell. I find myself saying phrases like, “How many times have I told you to hang up your jacket?” and “I’m throwing away all the Legos tomorrow if you can’t take care of them!”
2. Because of the sinful thoughts and desires in my heart. When I think about all my many mad moments (moments, days, weeks, etc.). Four triggers really lead to my frustration, and they’re all related to my mind & soul.
I know that being a “Mad Dad” isn’t who I want to be.
My response to my sinful, anger outbursts goes like this:
Yet I can’t seem to control the anger as it builds up inside of me and flows out of my mouth. I know why I get angry and I know Mad Dad isn’t who I want to be. So, what’s the next step for a Mad Dad? I think that’s my problem: I want a step-by-step guide to tell me “If this, then that” to teach me how to not get ridiculously angry.
I want to be a perfectly-performing papa with well-behaved boys. My goal is to have calm, compliant, obedient, and respectful kids, but God has a different goal in mind. God uses parenting to purify. God is more concerned with maturing us, in the fiery furnace of family life, than making sure our children are compliant and calm.
It’s true. It is. God is all about conforming us more and more into the image of His Son. He’s not at all concerned with our outward obedience if our inward motivation isn’t driven by love. So then what’s a Mad Dad to do?
It’s discouraging for “trying hard” dads to hear that there isn’t a guaranteed way to solve our Mad Dad issues, but I do have hope to offer. Let’s never forget that God is all about our relationship with Him and our kids. He wants this instead of what looks proper or acceptable. He’ll create situations we cannot handle to bring us back to Him. He equips us to parent. He never forsakes us.
There is no checklist and I’m sure these words sound great as you read them, but when your tween acts out, well, that’s when our faith and love get real. Let’s remember that moving away from anger is a marathon with a road full of potholes and hurdles.
When we left the hospital, we knew our kids were the best thing we’d ever done. My fellow Mad Dads, don’t give up on yourself or your kids. Even if we’re mad, our kids are always the best thing we’ve ever done. Amen?
See you Sunday.
*disclaimer: I’m a dad, not a mom, I cannot write from any other perspective.