Saturday, December 27, 2014

Open My Eyes to Fatherhood

On November 10, 2014 at 1:53 PM, I became a Father.

I look into those big blue eyes, and I see my future. I see my imitator, my sidekick, and my legacy. I see all my hopes, dreams, and fears all at the same time. What kind of Father will I be? What decisions will I make? What, from my Father, will I carry on in my parenting? What other influences will I use, and what will I reject? What will I stop doing? What will I start doing?

It is amazing the thoughts that fly through your head after your child is born. Other parents always tell you everything will change, but they have no way of explaining how and how much. Honestly, some parents may not even realize exactly how much has really changed. We have a habit of normalizing anything. We get into a routine, and pay little attention to detail, nor do we take a moment to honestly look at ourselves or our situation. I say this to say that our lives have changed drastically, and this is how:

My life itself has changed a tremendous amount. My son is almost 7 weeks old now, and I have just now had a chance to sit and gather my thoughts. My priorities have shifted drastically, and my routines have been thrown into a constant state of flux, depending on the needs of this entirely helpless baby. I know what you're thinking, God should always come first. You're absolutely right. But I challenge anyone to welcome an infant into your house for the first time, while keeping your daily routine completely intact. If you have, you're a better man than me. I am having to learn planning and time management all over again. Spiritual warfare also changes. The enemy now has new vulnerabilities to test in order to make you an ineffective Christian. There are so many variables, many unseen, that come with the addition of a baby into your life that cause everything else to go into a state of chaos. But through this chaos comes learning, growth, and ultimately a closer relationship with God.

My relationship with my wife has definitely changed. Everyone always talks about loving someone so much more after seeing them with your children. It is absolutely true. You see how much someone cares for something that God used you both to create, and there is something so mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual that happens, which is next to impossible to explain. What most people don't talk about is that your relationship is also extremely strained. Communicating is often done over and in between the cries of your little bundle of joy. Both of you create new expectations that you didn't even think of having before you had a child. If these expectations are not met, you are mad/upset and argue with your spouse, who has no idea the expectation even existed (likely due to the lack of communication, previously mentioned). learn. You learn how to communicate effectively (often in short bursts of information much like drinking from a fire hose). You write each other notes. You write things down. Period. You have so many more things to remember now that are directly related to your new baby, that your poor brain has little room for other information. You also create your own romance. You let your wife know that you still see her as the hot pre-baby woman you married. You let her know that no matter what changes, she is still yours and only yours. The baby doesn't trump your marriage. That is SO easy to say, but extremely difficult to put into practice. The best thing you can do for your children is to take care of your marriage. No matter what happens, keep that at the forefront of your mind.

My relationship with God has taken a roller coaster ride that I would have never expected. We are supposed to put God before anything and everything in our lives. When we get married, that becomes increasingly difficult as we grow our love for our spouse, but over time becomes easier with practice and keeping God the center of your relationship. When you add a child to the mix, the difficulty increases ten fold. Your morning Bible reading and prayer takes a back seat to early feedings, and short naps to be able to function the next day at work. Your prayer time becomes brief moments of labored cries for more sleep. learn. You carve out time regardless of sleep. You read while holding your sleeping infant. You pray while looking at your sleeping baby that God will give you the strength to lead your family closer to Him.

I have found that my relationship with God is like slowly opening my eyes. I can choose to open my eyes to see the world around me, but I can also choose to keep them closed. I can also squint, and will be unable to see things clearly. There are times in my life where I have seen things clearer, then chose later to squint. What is most consistent is that every time I think my eyes are completely open, and I can see everything, God reveals more and more to me through His word and my life experiences. The birth of my son has opened my eyes to Fatherhood, and things are still so blurry. Through it all, I know that it isn't me I should be relying on, it is my Father in Heaven. Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." I always thought of a child of about 4-6 years old when I read this verse. I now think of an infant. They are completely helpless and reliant on their parents for their every need. They communicate these needs by crying out in desperation to have these needs met. They can't differentiate between each needs; however, their parents know exactly what needs to be done in order to calm them: food, cleanliness, sleep, and love. We should approach God in the same manner. We know we are helpless, and we are able to cry out to Him for our needs. My eyes may not be fully open, but I am learning more and more how to be God's baby.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Letter to My Pastor

    First of all, thank you. Thank you for the late nights, the calls, texts, visits, prayers, and persistence you show each and every day to fulfill your role as Pastor. Your dedication to the study of God's word, your constant attention on your relationship with Him, and focus on improving the relationships and lives of those who hear the Gospel from you.
    I believe the best thank you I can offer is for me to give you a gift. My gift are the things which I pledge to do my best to do for you. I have listed these things below not only to honor you, but also to remind myself of my role as a member of this church, as a follower of Christ, and as someone under your leadership.

  1. I will understand that you aren't perfect. I understand that my relationship with God is just that - mine. I will cultivate my relationship with God by reading His word, and praying without ceasing to my heavenly Father. 
  2. I will recognize, but not publicize your wrongs. As mentioned in #1, you aren't perfect; therefore, you will make mistakes both in life, in the church, and in Scripture. Because I am reading God's word and praying, I will be able to recognize these times and offer the best help, prayer. 
  3. I will not gossip, period. This applies to you and your family, as well as anyone else in or outside of the church. 
  4. I will pray for you. I will keep you in my prayers always, and also your family. I will be sure to pray for anything specific I may know about, and especially anything specific happening in the church, from events to changes.
  5. I will be okay with change. I respect your decision, and I am going to honor you by following your leadership and vision for the church, while supporting you in any way I can.
  6. I will encourage you. I will thank you for all you do, appreciate your role in my life, and honor you whenever and however I can.
  7. I will realize that I am not your friend. Because I am being led by you, I am not on the same spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical level that you are as the leader of this community of believers. This does not mean that we cannot hang out, but I will not expect to be the best of friends and spend tons of time together.
  8. If I have a problem, I will come to you with it. As mentioned in #3, I will not gossip; therefore, I will come to you personally with any problem I may have that involves you. I will be respectful of your time, and be patient to get to discuss my issue with you. I realize that the prayer, fasting, preparation, and time spent leading this church takes priority over an issue I may have, so I will be respectful of your time.
  9. I will not pretend to understand your life. I am not a Pastor. I have no idea what you deal with on a daily basis, what attacks you suffer from the enemy, or the demands on your time. I will be understanding if you aren't available for my child's birthday party, baby shower, etc... 
  10. I will be respectful of your family. We are all doing life together, and life isn't perfect. I realize children sometimes make decisions out of immaturity that may not align with your values, or values found in Scripture. I will not assume anything about your life, nor judge you as a parent. I will encourage and support in any way I can. 
  11. I will not depend solely on you for leadership in my life. I will find those who are where I want to be in an area of life, and I will seek to be mentored by them. This goes for finances, marriage, parenting, etc...
  12. I will take personal responsibility for my life. You cannot change me, and I realize that. God changes me, and He does so with my willingness. Your encouragement is always welcome, and I am so grateful for it.
  13. I will accept correction from you. I will understand that by being under your leadership that I am agreeing to you being able to correct me if I am ever out of line in any area of my life.  I will accept this correction, and do everything possible to follow it.
  14. I will lead others. I will not sit, collecting dust, within this church expecting you to do all the work. I will participate, lead, grow, and help others to do the same.
  15. I will be an example of unity. Regardless of what happens, what disagreements occur, what decisions I do not like, I will always, in everything I do, support unity in Christ for our church. The enemy would love nothing more than to work his way into our church through a disagreement, event, or anything else in order to disrupt our unity and make us ineffective. I will pray against my pride, humble myself no matter the situation, and always pray for unity.
Your position is of vital importance to the Kingdom of God. We should be grateful and worshipful to Him to be allowed to be a part of such an amazing movement as spreading the Gospel to those in need. We are the light of the world, and you are carrying the lamp. Thank you.