Today is my birthday. Well, it’s not exactly the kind of birthday most people celebrate every year. Most people have cake and ice cream, and crazy hats, and balloons once-a-year to celebrate the day they were born. For me, that party is always on the 18th of April. That’s my biological birthday. But today is a ‘different’ kind of birthday for me. Today marks the date of the day I was born again, … as a dad.
My oldest son was born on this date. On February 5, in the middle of a cold, foggy, Northern California night, he entered this world. And on that same night, and at that exact same moment in time, I stepped cross a wide and significant threshold, myself. I was ‘born-again,’ this time, into “dad-hood.” I made a decision on the night of my second birth. As a man, as a husband, as a Christian who had already been “Born Again” as a little boy, I now experienced a new ‘birthing.” I discovered that the delivery of my first child came with a wake-up call all its own. I don’t know that I had prepared for it. (In fact, I’m not sure there is a way to adequately ‘prepare’ for dad-hood.’ It’s a sort of learn-as-you-go sort of class, and not something you can study up for.) My learning started the day I was born-again, the day I became a dad. So, for whatever it’s worth, here are some things I’ve learned in my journey as a dad.
1. The influence I’ve had in the lives of my sons — all three of them — is significant. Good or bad, flawed or favorable, my influence in the lives of my sons is significant. Therefore, I need to pay attention. I am being watched.
2. I am not a perfect dad. I am a ‘learner.’ My kids know I’m not perfect. They extend grace to me every day, demonstrating that reality. (Only flawed people need grace; if they weren’t flawed … there would be no need for ‘grace.’)
3. The greatest gift I have to give my sons is to model for them — not for a day, but for a lifetime — my loyalty, love, and absolute dedication to their mother. (Their wives will rise up and call me blessed for demonstrating husbandship.)
4. The parenting values I held as a young dad were mine. Two of my sons have been ‘born again’ themselves. And the parenting values they have adopted are there own. I need to keep my mouth shut on how they raise their kids. (I’ve already finished my child-raising course. Not sure what kind of grade I got, but I don’t want to have to repeat any part of it. I’ll share experiences. I’ll tell funny stories. But being the dad of kids is a “one-guy job.” Some people may think it takes a village. I don’t know about that. But I am sure it takes a dad — one dad. (Anything beyond that is called ‘grandpa,’ a totally different gig, and one I enjoy more than I can say.)
5. Being a dad is an honorable thing. In fact, no honor that has ever been given me — no honor that could EVER be given me, no matter how lofty — can compare to the honor I feel at being a dad. The day I was Born Again was a day that secured my place in heaven for all eternity. And the day I was ‘born-again’ as a dad … has made my journey on this earth a joy and delight that defies description. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like, had I not had the friendship and incredible love of my sons.
If you happen upon these words, and chose to leave a comment about your own experience — perhaps what you’ve learned along the way, since you were ‘born again’ as a mom or dad — feel free. I’m certainly no expert. I’m just a guy celebrating a birthday.
Happy Birthday, Marcus. I love you.