What happens when a man becomes a father? I’ll never forget the day I became a dad. My wife and I had registered to adopt a child with our state’s Division of Youth and Family Services through BCFS. Then one day we got a call from them saying there was someone special they’d like us to meet. A baby still at the hospital was needing a foster home. The very next day a little baby boy crawled into our life. When I held him for the first time, I knew he was going to be my son.
From that wonderful day of “instant fatherhood” – as any first-time dad will tell you – everything changes … absolutely everything. More than just learning how to change diapers, bathe, feed, stop the crying, and put the baby to sleep, new dads also learn a lot about themselves. I know I did! My son changed my life in ways that cannot be understood until you are a dad. As a father, you may discover untapped reserves of maturity in a new, more selfless lifestyle. But these new concerns such as financial frugality, dependability, setting a good example, sleepless nights, sensitivity, patience, and fears of the future, are all eclipsed by the deep inner joy new fathers feel. For me it felt like leaving the shallow waters of boyhood and learning to stay afloat in the depths of fatherhood even though I was 43 years old at the time.
I guess I’m still growing up along with my sons, I now have three boys and two of them are strong willed. It never even crossed my mind to think that I would be raising strong willed boys! Suddenly I was in need of someone to teach me how to be an effective dad. Often it’s me who needs some good strong fathering. But I needed something more than just getting the best fatherly advice from friends and relatives. I needed a father who is instantly available, truly reliable, always right, and will never disappoint. And I found it in our perfect father, God!
It’s because fatherhood changes everything that I turned to Christ Jesus’ example when he so often referred to and appealed to God as his Father, and the Father of us all – as in the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” And he preceded that prayer with these words: “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
Truly, God is our Father, our ever-present Parent who will meet our every need because we are “precious in [His] sight” (Isaiah 43:4). This is not just some spiritual ideal or religious metaphor, but a practical, palpable relationship that we can draw upon as a basis for our own parenting. As we trust in God’s care for our children’s needs as well as our own, we gain good parenting skills and qualities such as strength, insight, creativity, discipline, patience, and wisdom.
God’s love and care for us is strong and lasting, like our love for our children. It’s a permanent bond of love within each of us. Learning of God’s tender fathering and mothering qualities brings them into our family relationships. It replaces fear with a tender trust that we can always turn to our Father to learn how to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6).
Building that relationship with God can take some effort. Like connecting with a human parent, we may need to make the first move, and to humble our will, and quiet our preconceptions in order to be open and listening for God’s wisdom. But I’ve found that every effort at drawing closer to God reveals that He is always with us to encourage, calm, and strengthen us at a moment’s notice. As we learn to turn to God for whatever we need, we gain the best parental support system there is.
So let me tell you what happened after that first baby boy arrived. Three weeks later a three and a half year old boy took a shy stroll into our lives and never looked back. We adopted him and then 17 months later one more boy decided to enter the lives of the Quintana’s home. At the time that I am writing this, my three sons are now 4, 6 and 9 years old. I am a typical American Dad with a family of five. Now more than ever I look to God (the Father) for wisdom and guidance. I look to him for him to be my role model so I can be a good daddy to my three sons. I do this not because I am a good dad but because being a father Changes Everything!
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