A Father’s Shame, A Father’s Glory

I’ll never forget the 28th of April 2017. On that day, for the first time, she called me “daddy”. She called me “daddy”! This teenager that I had now known and loved for 7 years, the eldest daughter of a single mother of five, called me her father.

I cried.

How could I even handle such honor? Such responsibility? Such weight?

I have never been that happy. Now, believe me, I have experienced the deepest of joys with my parents and my brother … and especially with my ex.

But this was different.

It was completely voluntary; we didn’t have to love one another that way, as if we were related by blood. It was completely pure and selfless; there was nothing to be gained by way of gratification—mutual or otherwise. It was completely genuine; I never asked for it. I couldn’t. I had no right.

It was a different kind of joy altogether. The kind of joy that instead of making you smile, makes your whole world stop for a moment and sends a tear rolling down your oh-so-manly beard. Since 2009, I have always been ready to meet my Maker. But on the 28th of April, my joy was complete; I was ready to go.

So I can say with all confidence that I have a daughter. Matter of fact, I have 3 daughters and 2 sons.

What I soon realized though, was just how much the dynamic of our relationship changed past that point. There had always been highs and lows (you know kids: angels one day, imps the next; today you’re Superman, tomorrow you’re nothing but a stingy Puritan) but since then, the highs became all the more sweet … and the lows became heartrending!

Recently, my daughter did something wrong. Something outright sinful. Something shameful. Something that involved and offended some people that respect me. Something that has serious consequences, consequences that she herself has no ability to bear, nor is able to compensate the aggrieved parties for.

I have never felt so terrible. “Why would she do that,” I asked myself, “despite everything I’m trying to do for her? Despite my flawed yet fervent and sincere example? Why, why, why, surely?”

As I was agonizing over this, it dawned on me: “Is this how my heavenly Father feels when I act completely unlike his son? When I mess up, even when He’s doing everything for me, giving me everything I need? If I, a messed up and undeserving dad, could feel so terrible about my daughter, how much worse a perfect Father?”

Again, I cried.

And as I thought about this, I knew in my heart that this right here is where the rubber meets the road. My daughter is mine to rejoice in, and to grieve over. I don’t get to boast in her successes without being associated, indeed held responsible, for her failures as well.

To get to my daughter, you have to go through me, no matter what she did. She answers to me, and I deal with everybody else.

In spite of the incident … nay … because of the incident, I now have a much deeper love for my daughter. I want to honor who I am to her, even when she doesn’t deserve it.

In my shame as her father, I glory in the fact that I’m the one who bears the shame.

A father’s shame, a father’s glory.

I only pray that I’ll be like my heavenly Father who adopted me, loved me, provided for me, covered my shame, and called me by His name … despite the fact that I keep making blunders, big and small, as his son.

And thus I pray that though shame may frequently be mine for now, she’ll grow up to be like me. Like our heavenly Father. And that she’ll raise her children likewise.

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