Strangely enough, this isn’t a post about my Sweetie, who often gives me funny (or sometimes sizzling hot) Valentines. This, in spite of the fact that Kathy celebrated V-Advent this year by hanging little bags of candy and Valentines for each of us in the week before Valentines’ Day.
Hard as it is to compete with chocolate, I actually think that the best valentine I have received so far was from my youngest daughter, Sarah. I’ll post a picture of it so you can be the judge.
One of the problems with being a Dad, is that you often seem to be doomed to failure. You will inevitably make mistakes (some of us make them every day) and you will not always be loving, faithful or wise. Even when you do succeed by any objective standard, you will often be rejected by children who are blinded by their own sin, or misunderstood and resisted by the spouse that you thought was on your side. No, being a Dad is not for the faint of heart.
One of my favorite illustrations of this is from the movie, While You Were Sleeping. In the course of the film, we discover that one of the main characters, Jack, does not want to continue in his family’s business, yet he feels trapped, wanting to please his father. Now that his brother has come out of a coma, Jack catches his Dad in a wistful, reflective frame of mind. He senses that it is time to get things out in the open. Sitting down one morning with his Dad, armed with a box of donuts, Jack seizes the moment:
Pop: “You work hard, try to provide for the family, and then for one minute everything’s good. Everyone’s well, everyone’s happy, and in that one minute, you have peace.”
Jack: “Pop … this isn’t that minute.”
Jack goes on to tell his Dad that he wants to quit working for him, but rather seeks to go into business for himself, making rocking chairs.
I often feel like the Dad in the film — this isn’t that minute. It seems like we constantly move from crisis to crisis, battling 18×7 for the hearts of our children against a hostile, worldly culture and other evil forces that want to devour them. But there is a part of me that is desperately weary of the struggle, and really yearns for that minute.
A few days before Valentine’s Day, Sarah came up to see me in my office upstairs, where I work from home several days a week.
“Hey, Dad, I made you a Valentine.” She handed it to me, smiled, and left. Opening it, I got the chance to cherish one of those moments that a Dad lives for.
One of the things that Kathy and I have been talking about recently is the hunger that we all seem to have, to be truly known. As the scripture says:
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. — 1 Corinthians 13:12
Sarah hit the nail on the head when she appreciated me for my love of teaching, my generosity and my whimsical silliness, three traits at the very core of who I am. It is delightful to be known and valued and loved as a Dad. Thanks, Sarah, for a great Valentine!