This Father's Heart
It must have been 2002.
We had only been married for a few months when Alison dropped a bomb.
"I want a baby," she said.
"Wait, you want to have kids?" I said, stunned. I'm pretty sure my face was blank at this point.
"I want four," she continued. "I've always wanted four."
"I want zero."
"Four, at least."
Somehow, the topic had never come up before.
I wasn't around children younger than me very much when I was growing up, and the older I grew, the more mysterious they became to me. I had no desire or intention whatsoever to be a father. Marriage? I can do that. Being a dad? No way!
Kids... scared me.
Flash forward to present day, and we have four children, and they're awesome. And I wouldn't trade a moment with them for the world. Alison didn't win; God shaped my life and my heart. But I suppose stating it like that makes it sound too simple. Settling into my identity as a husband and a father didn't come easy for me, and I'm still learning.
My dad has been a great example.
A fiercely devoted man of conviction, my dad has always prayed hard, worked hard, and has always both told and shown his three children that he loves them. He is a thoughtful and selfless man, and he set the bar high. I was scared that I could never live up to it. My desire to be childless was rooted, in part, in fear.
I was afraid of being too foolish, too weak, and too selfish to be a good father to children. I hadn't inherited my dad's wonderful savvy for planning things years in advance. I didn't inherit my dad's strong hands. I didn't have his funny stories or jokes. I just knew that I would screw everything up. In a nutshell, I was selfish.
I knew that Christ calls a person to a life of self-denial, but the only place I knew it was in my head and not in my heart. Somebody else could take care of kids. I was going to take care of myself.
"I'm pregnant," she said. I knew from that moment on, everything would change. I was a dad. There was no putting that genie back in the bottle again. Zoe was born. Eli came a few years later. Then Lily. Then we were visited with crippling heartbreak in the form of two miscarriages, which might have been the most difficult time in our married life. But then God blessed us with Sam. And I thought we were done.
Alison has more of a natural inclination to hear God speak. I think she's just less calloused, perhaps. Then again, I had spent years just keeping my nose to the grindstone, doing my daily routine, and paying no heed to the plight of the less fortunate. After a trip last year, God started chipping away at the wall I'd built around my heart, and then he planted within it the desire to help orphans.
I realized that mine was a father's heart, and I had somehow managed to develop some of the positive characteristics which I had seen in my own father. I have my own mind; I have my own strengths; I have my own humor. I am a dad. It's not just what I do, it's who I am. It's who God made me to be. And I love it.
SOS: Sunday, Orphan Sunday
Today is Orphan Sunday, when Christians around the world pause consider the plight of the world's fatherless children. Did you know there are approximately 153 million orphans around the world? It boggles my mind. The need is dire, but ours is a big God who calls us to care. And so we must. Alison and I, for our part, have decided that whatever God calls us do we're going to do it.
Our "yes" is on the table. We're going to be just foolish enough (at least in the eyes of the world) to believe that He is who He says He is and that He'll do what He says He will do. So we're adopting. It's exciting, and it's terrifying, and it's impossible for us. But it's not impossible for Him. I know He'll come through.
I can sense it in this father's heart.