Where to begin…I'm a new dad, been married almost five years, and I do not have this “father-husband lifestyle” all figured out. My six-month old son, Caleb Dean Wills, is a joy and blessing from heaven. With this gift laid in my lap, I don't know much about him- what to do with him, how to raise him, what to teach him, what he needs, how to play with him, even how to be “Dad.” It's hard to know with the language barrier from adult to baby what our relationship is going to look like in the journey ahead. I remember praying to God prior to his birth, “God, listen, I don't want children if I am going to be a terrible, horrible, ineffective, father to my children. So, there you have it, Lord. That's it and you know.” Well what did God do? He blessed my wife and me with this bundle of love and joy. As a young, married “man/dad,” I am trying to live my life for the Lord and lead my family well. Whether you are a young father, married man, or woman needing encouragement with the life rhythms of different seasons, may this bless, support, give you confidence and hope during these days.
One fateful night, our son woke up screaming. Something was wrong. We knew that his voice and tone were different and his need for us was urgent. As Caleb cried, which seemed like forever, I noticed that I started to rise in anxiety. Suddenly, Caleb hit some high-pitched sounds I never thought possible and the scenario changed. I tried to help but my mind was pained and numb. I tried to move, to help serve, and provide whatever was needed but my body was paralyzed stiff. My wife was the superhero of this story, I wasn’t. Turns out Caleb is starting to teeth (my wife’s Spidey-sense going off) and this brings new struggles along with his positive growth process.
Bottom line as a new dad...I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed that my wife was the hero of the story and not me. I wanted to take the pain away from Caleb. I wanted to save my son from screaming in ways that shattered and broke my heart. I wanted to be the calm, reassuring, positive husband my wife needed in a crisis moment...but I wasn't. This embarrassment leads to an insecurity addressing masculinity and “having it all together,” - yah that didn't happen for me. This guilt and shame was soothed with the ointment of my wife reassuring me of my role and presence during that time though I felt incapable. Her affirmation and loving heart showed me reason to believe there was more than I could see to this situation involving our son. Maybe you are a new dad or have some scars from the seasons of kids you have reared, guided, or inherited in the times of crisis you have encountered. I want to reassure you that every man has a role in their family even if they cannot fix the situation. It is hard enough to fail while learning, but growing in accepting my limitations and being ok with that? Are you kidding me! The truth is I will be healthier spiritually for it and my family will also reap from the work sown through me with acknowledging the grace needed in the role only God can do through this man seeing the virtue of God’s grace over self.
I resonate with the apostle Paul in the verses he wrote specifically to groups of people that were struggling with their weakness, pride, and desire for heart-transformation though circumstances were dire. Paul lived what he said. It takes a mighty yet humble man to share failures and glory in them. Romans 8:1-2 says this, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” The grace of God reigns supreme over and through my life. I no longer live for myself, I am His and His vessel alone. His platforms are His that I am placed into to shepherd, steward, and be a loving model of a transformed life. I used to live by the law aka “condemnation” which was only meant to expose my need for Jesus Christ’s grace. As a new dad, man, son, father, brother, husband, pastor, caregiver, teacher, and leader… I must see that condemnation and what has been thrown at me really never defines me, Jesus Christ alone is capable, good, and sufficient. Sometimes I dabble in the past of condemnation, when grace, the gift of God, released me by the Spirit of God interceding within my life, relationships, and platforms no matter my downfall. He rises strong and willing.
Paul also finds a moment in his life where something horrible and sickly was taking him and not feeling 100%. I do not know how long it lasted for Paul, but it was dire enough for him to ask God to relinquish it from his life though the glory in some things done to him would make the manliest men cringe and retreat in fear. Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” This joy of contentment is uncanny to most today. In this fast-paced society of Western Civilization, there are most that would hate to be hindered, knocked out of the competition, feel limited, debilitated, or even weak. Yet, Paul says there is joy in weakness when Jesus is center in your life. Calamities have nothing on Jesus. Hardships and persecutions have nothing on Jesus. Insults and weaknesses have nothing on Jesus. Paul makes it known he is weak but because One is strong over Paul and through Paul, he can rest in peace and grace of the power advocating for him when nothing makes sense.
I want to encourage you, that I do not like saying I am weak. I do not feel strong when I am weak. However, Jesus signified Himself as the Good Shepherd… he lays His life down for the sheep, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:10). How great is our God that He lays His life down for you, your family, and for those needing faithful truth and renewed life in these time frames of waiting and pause.
Oh Lord God, what can I offer before your throne. So many times I work from my own ability and self-sufficiency when really all I have to give is an empty jar. Assured Savior, blessed are you and wise beyond my years on earth. I cannot fathom the countless blessings, prayers, songs, thoughts you bring to your Creation...me. May I marvel and submit to hear, listen, acknowledge, and understand your greatness over my failures, doubts, and insecurities. Strong are your hands, Lord, faithful and true is your boldness of advocation and steadfastness to the withering and blooming. Please reign in my insufficiency and carry this broken man to a place of worship that shows the greatness of Christ and Your wondrous work. Please do not forsake the work of your hand over me and through me and in my family God, bring them to a place of worship in spirit and truth to trust you fully and fall in love with You deeply and widely. With Grace from Jesus Christ alone and in His name, Amen.