Friday, June 20, 2014

Keeping up Appearances

The temptation to look like you’re on top of it all can be strong. When impressing others becomes your goal, you’ve not just lost your way—you’re headlights are off and the bridge is out.

I’m still learning that short of being a Stepford dad, it’s virtually impossible to be the perfect parent. You’d think by the time Christine and I had our two youngest, I would have this parenting thing down pat. However, Jadyn and Anicah are nothing like my first two. These little girls are constantly teaching me things about fatherhood I hadn’t learned with my older children. Raising kids is like owning electronics; just when you figure them out, something new comes along and you have to relearn everything.

Relearning changes a person too. One thing I really enjoy is raising these two youngest along with my wife—the way God planned it to be. I had never experienced this, and it’s nothing less than lovely.

Yes, I used the word lovely. That’s one consequence of living in an all-female household these days. Dare I mention how much I know about Barbie, mermaids, and fairies? I’ve grown soft around all this prettiness. Where’s Caleb when I need him?

Whether you ever remarry or not, people aren’t really looking to be impressed by your fathering. I wasted a lot of energy worrying about what people thought about me. During the early years of single parenting even my Christmas cards revealed some insecurity. They included the kids and me wearing dark sunglasses and sitting on a cool-looking balcony. After all, I had to keep up the image that I was fine and having fun.  I probably fell into each of those roles over the seven years I was fathering my kids alone. It wasn't until my Heavenly Father helped me see my true worth was in being myself that I finally became a Sedan.  

Today I try not to deplete my energy on appearances. I care very little these days about what people think of me, allowing myself to be weak, transparent, and full of flaws so the Lord can show his glorious strength.

I trust this blog in no way portrays me as someone who has it all together. I still tick off my grown kids when I get too preachy. I yell at my little girls until they cry. Sometimes I punish them so harshly I can almost see their little hearts curl up like a Styrofoam cup in a fire pit. I’m selfish, and I talk over them and get impatient when they can’t express themselves. I get frustrated if they aren’t fast enough. I complain when they break things and threaten never to buy them anything again. The list goes on.

I lie in bed and wonder how I can be so soft some days and so hard the next. How can I feel God using me sometimes to train them in the ways of the Lord, then turn around and in mere seconds let my flesh undo everything I taught them about God’s love? Have I learned nothing about parenting kids? Are all four of my children destined to need counseling because of my stinkin’ Tez-ness?

Then I see it. Those little eyes full of unfaltering love and admiration for me. Those sweet little smiles full of unconditional forgiveness. I’m reminded of God’s grace and mercy in all four of my kids’ faces. His love that covers a multitude of my sins. His love that erases from my kids’ minds and hearts so many of my failures. In my kids’ eyes I see something that gives me hope.

Dads, you’re gonna goof up. We all do. Be encouraged in knowing you have a high priest interceding for you. Your identity isn’t in your shortcomings. It’s in what you are becoming day by day through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit working in you, perfecting you, until one day you will be all he wants you to be. 

What are some ways you are most tempted to look like you have it all together?