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Just last August I lost my dad to cancer. It was a horrendous time for me and my family. My Dad was diagnosed by the oncologist on a Thursday, and dead within 17 days. It all happened so quickly that it was hard to prepare for it. But then the emotion of getting the funeral together, as well as all of the other legals that go with death meant that it was probably a month before I stopped and properly came to terms with it.
And grieve I did. It was probably the loneliest period of my life. I could be in a room full of people, I could be in a café waiting for a coffee, or doing some reading, but I had never felt so alone.
My dad was an amazing mentor to me. He was a very wise man and it never mattered what problem or challenge I brought to him; he always had a wise word. While he ran his own business his entire life, he did not run an organization with the complexity that mine has. But it didn’t matter. He still knew how to simplify the issue at hand and help me with a pathway through.
There are many days when I am at my desk and I just wish I could call him and not only ask for his advice, but just say “Hi.” But the point of my message is that since he has been gone, I feel like my own parenting has gone to another level. It’s not until someone – or something – is gone that you realize just how precious it was to you.
In the case of my father, his death has firmly shown me just how important my role is as a dad. I have always been present in my three – soon to be four – children’s lives, but in realizing just how important my dad was to me, I have had the revelation of how much I mean to them. Even if they don’t always know it.
Dads of the world, I understand that your job is a tough one. It can be thankless and financially draining, but rest assured you are making an amazing difference in your children’s lives. During the Global Financial Crisis we had some years ago, I read of husbands literally walking out of the home and leaving their wives to fend for the kids. They simply couldn’t handle the stress and were moving home to live with their parents.
We all want to lose the responsibility of being a parent at times, but be assured that God never gives us more than we can handle. For me, I take the responsibility I have for my (almost) four children and hand it to God. For the finances we as a family need, the grades my children will get, the friends they will make, the futures they will have, and the partners they will marry. By giving it to God I do all I can as a father, then I leave the rest to him.
Practically I also make time for them so I am in their lives. I coach my son’s soccer team, I take my boys surfing after school, even though it means leaving the office early, and I take my daughter to dance classes. Many dads cannot leave the office early, so this is not an option, but the key here is being present in their lives.
Your children may not even live under the same roof as you, but that is okay. You can still call them regularly and take an interest in their lives. When you are with them, you can be fully present.
So while I won’t see my Dad until heaven, I’m a dad myself, and I can do for their lives what my dad did for mine. And so can you. Let’s be dads who know that God has their lives in his hands, and let’s go and enjoy the small amount of time we actually have with them while they are exclusively ours.
Matt Danswan is the CEO of Initiate Media, publishers of Christian Woman. He also blogs at www.mattdanswan.com.