Two images set fixed in my mind always. One projected by my hopes and sweat and prayers, the other locked forever in sweetest memory. Both hold beginnings. One day the projected image will exist. My job is to make sure it is not some maladapted version of what I see and hope for now. For each of my daughters, I hold two images. I will forever remember the first moment I held them as newborns sucking in life and breathing out identity.
Each time, my heart melted completely different, like it never had before. As their little eyes opened they couldn’t see much or make sense of what was all around them. They squirmed and cried announcing arrival and beginning. That is when the second image began to form: who they would one day be.
The two images fixed in place hold each other in supportive tension.
God had much to do with their first beginning and arrival into the world. I have a momentous and deeply impressionable role in what I think of as their second beginning when they stand on their own cutting their own way in life.
For now, I am protector and guide to them, and if what I read about father/daughter relationships holds true, years from now at the end of their lives, I will be on their mind. That’s such a heavy and strong thought that keeps me praying and shaping them with what I learn and know. So I try to envision the end of their lives, what they might think, remember, have lived through and most importantly how they may have made it.
Did they live well? ...risk all for dreams and desires? ...love deeply and forever?
What I can’t handle is the opposite possibility of what I hope for in their lives.
I never want them to live hemmed in by fear, insecurity or whatever clings and pulls them closer to the ground, remaining small and insignificant. The thought of them at the end of their lives regretting, lonely for dreams formed in youth, loved incompletely and somehow misaligned from what we once hoped for, absolutely breaks my heart now.
This heartache serves to be a very capable guide for me as their father. Beyond parenting strategies and developmental challenges, those two images fixed together in my heart in cause and effect relationship, uncover resolve and undying determination to love them despite difficulty and guide them through precarious. Courage and god-like bravery defy any distortion of who I hope them to be in life.
After all, God made me for this, for them. And them for me. I’m sure of it.
As a parent, it is likely easy for you to fall into ruts and routine cut into your relationship with your kids by fear. Fear that our effort will one day reach a threshold where they overcome by normally accepted statistics and hormonal changes. I hold tightly to the truth that perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18.
As God perfectly and completely loves me, fear has been displaced. His love teaches me to love fearlessly as I love and teach my daughters the same.
At the end of their lives, when I’m told I will be on their minds, I want them to still be breathing in life and exhaling identity. The feeling of satisfaction and love deeply rooted in their hearts as they think of their own kids that they helped steer and establish from the heart that I helped form within them from the beginning of their lives.