Parenting is hard work. And that’s an understatement. Everybody is a parenting expert until they actually become a parent. Then all of a sudden everything you thought you knew goes right out the window, reality sets in, and you realize this parenting thing is going to be a lot harder than you thought.
I remember when Angela and I brought home our first set of twins.
In the hospital it was a piece of cake. The nurses were so helpful. They would change diapers if we needed them to. They’d take the babies to the nursery if we needed to get some sleep. We didn’t have to prepare our own meals. It was awesome.
But then we had to go home. And I remember loading the babies into the car for the very first time, buckling my seatbelt, and getting ready to drive away. In that moment I thought to myself, “Who in their right mind would let a couple of kids like us leave this place with two brand new babies?!?”
The overwhelming reality of parenting began to set in. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
My Very First Dad-Fit
Not even one week had passed before I had my very first dad-fit.
Note to new or expecting parents: Babies cry…a lot. And ours were no exception.
In fact, in that first week there was so much crying that eventually I just couldn’t take it anymore. And I stormed out of the house, slammed the back door, and sat down on the patio in an embarrassingly pouty, selfish, irritable state of mind.
Then I realized–at that very early, very low point of my parenting career–that I was actually mad at my two week-old babies because they cried a lot.
How embarrassing is that? You can imagine the conviction that came over me.
And that’s when God taught me my first parenting lesson.
God’s Words For This Young, Fit-Throwing Dad
As I was sitting there stewing in my unjustifiable anger and sulking in my much deserved embarrassment, God spoke to me. Not in an audible way. But in that still, small voice like only He can.
He told me something like this:
Jared, you’re a lot like those two infants inside your house. You’re helpless too, you know. You may be able to dress yourself and feed yourself and clean up after yourself, but you’re more dependent than you think. In fact, you depend on Me for everything. And what do I do when you act like a child? Do I get angry with you? Do I walk out on you or throw my hands in the air and say, ‘Why can’t you get it?’ No. I love you. I’m patient with you. And I lead you faithfully, step by step and day by day because that’s what it means to be a Father.’
And that was exactly what this young, fit-throwing dad needed to hear.
How the Gospel Transformed My Parenting
See, the first thing I realized as a brand new parent was that I was far more selfish than I ever imagined.
It’s only when another person (or in our case two other people!) becomes totally, utterly, completely dependent on you all of the time that you begin to realize how much you love to serve yourself more than anyone else.
And that’s when I realized that the gospel provided my only hope of ever being a good dad.
The gospel says that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the One who has existed forever in Heaven’s glory, the One worthy of all honor and adoration and praise forever and ever, this same Jesus did not consider His position as something to be used for His own advantage.
Instead, He laid it all aside and took up a position of humility. The One who deserved to be served became a servant and served those who could never deserve it.
And He did that out of His great love for you and me so that He could give us something far better than we could ever imagine.
A Gospel Perspective
That’s the attitude I want to have as a parent. Not one where I love my kids only when they’re acting lovely. Not one where I serve my kids only when I feel like it. Not one where I’m patient towards them only when I have the time. But one that is shaped by and saturated in the truth of the same gospel that saved me.
See, Jesus loved me, served me and showed patience to me even when I didn’t deserve it. And that reality empowers me to show my kids the same kind of love, selfless service and patience too.
Now I want to live every day as a gospel-loving, gospel-living dad.
Question: What lessons has God taught you as a parent? Join the conversation clicking here.