There are more than a few instances in the New Testament where we see God as Father, but one that stands out to me is after Jesus’ Baptism. He comes out of the water and the Holy Spirit descends on him like a dove and you hear the Father’s voice from heaven. In a newer translation of the Bible, the Common English Bible, the familiar words we hear from the Father are a little different. Instead of saying, “This is my son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased,” (Luke 3:22) we instead hear, “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”
That is a subtle but significant change. The first one feels to me that the Father is proud of his Son for what he is doing. I have heard many stories in counseling situations where children have felt they needed to earn their father’s love. If they could only make that team, be a winner, earn the grade, get into the school, get the job, get the promotion, then their father would look at them and say, I am well pleased. And there is nothing wrong with challenging your children, setting expectations, and being proud when they accomplish their goals, but all that should come second to their confidence in our love. In you, I find happiness; not in anything you do or do not do, but in you.
Being a parent is a constant balancing act. When we were expecting our first daughter a man in my church gave me a book called Strong Fathers Strong Daughters, and in this book are both inspirational stories and heartbreaking stories of the ways fathers care for their daughters. But the lesson I took away from the book that I want to share here is our love should be unshakeable. No matter what they do or get into or need bailing out of, our love does not diminish. This can be true during times of play, celebration, and discipline.
Being a dad has been one of the scariest and most fulfilling things in my life. I have messed up more than I can count. Sometimes I have gotten it right. But what I want to make clear to my children, and what I hope all children know deeply, is that nothing can separate us from that kind of love. They are beloved, ones who we dearly love.
We should celebrate dads this Father’s Day, but we should also celebrate being a parent this Father’s Day. Because each day is new and different. Each stage of life brings different challenges. We cannot ascribe to a parenting tactic, and it be the way we do things forever. I hope you will join me in listening to our children and helping them to know and be sure of our love for them. God’s love is our bedrock but understanding that love can come through our parents. Let us love our children and find happiness in them.