Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! (Psalm 127:3-5)
Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, wrote those words. I happen to agree with him completely and not just because I believe God inspired his words. I’ve lived them out and seen those words proved true in my own life. I am a father. Very few sentences I can conjure make me happier than that one.
I love being a dad. I’ve written about being a dad before for Rambling Ever On. If you have paid any attention to those articles, you will already know that I have three boys. (It’s okay if you haven’t paid attention. One of my boys never reads anything I write.) My oldest is 15. My youngest is 9. The middle child – my kindred spirit since I too am a middle child – just turned 14. I cannot imagine my life without my boys. I really can’t. I don’t want to think about how boring everything would be if I didn’t have kids. I’ve learned a lot about the world since I became a father. I’ve learned a lot more about myself. Here are five of the biggest reasons being a dad has been so amazing.
Being a dad helped me appreciate home.
The Lytles are homebodies. We make no excuses for that either. We love being with our family in our home. We probably confound some people in that we are willing to sacrifice doing things or going places simply to be home with each other. We’ve not allowed our boys to participate in good things because we value our time together as a family. I realize that is probably somewhat countercultural. I’m okay with that. It’s a parenting/marriage philosophy that we have developed over time. I’m not a social butterfly, by any means, but before we had kids we did stuff. We really did! We went out. We went to movies. I’ve attended dozens and dozens of concerts or sporting events. I tend to turn those down now unless it’s a very special situation – because I want to have more time with my family. Call me weird. It’s okay. I’m fine with being weird. Weird’s all I’ve got. That and my sweet style.
It gives my wife and me something to talk about.
This one sounds bad without explanation, so, allow me to explain. My wife and I talk about all sorts of things – our jobs, our church, theology, politics, sports, movies, music, etc… You get the picture. I’ve read some parenting experts suggest that on date nights it’s best not to talk about your kids. I think that is rubbish. We love talking about our kids. We talk about the things going on in their lives. Their triumphs and struggles. The funny things they say or do and how they make us laugh. We aren’t putting our relationship on hold to focus more on our kids. Our kids are an integral part of our marriage relationship and we would be doing it a disservice if we tried to pretend that they did not exist when we have some “alone” time.
Being a dad has helped me grow up.
Prior to having children, technically speaking, I was a man. I had my first child when I was 25 years old. I was a man. (No jokes, please.) I had a full-time job. I was married. I did adult things. Yet I didn’t really grow up until my son was born. It wasn’t a lightning strike kind of moment, but things crystallized for me in a way they never had before. I was now responsible for another life. That does something to you. It did to me. Adding two more boys to the mix only helped in this regard. I am now the most mature man in the world! (Again, no jokes please.)
Being a dad helps me stay young.
Plot twist! I am more responsible and more mature than before my kids were alive, yet having kids has helped keep me young at heart. I have the tendency to internalize things, stew on them. I can be a bit melancholy if left to my own devices. I am so thankful that I am not left to my own devices. There’s just no room for my devices with three boys running around the house shooting nerf guns at each other. I get to see life through their eyes and it’s amazing. Life is wide open for them with endless possibilities. I am blessed to be able to experience all of that with them. I love that I get to crack jokes, throw them the football outside, and act in ridiculous ways that drive their mother crazy. Take a few moments to pray for her – she lives with animals.
Being a dad has strengthened my relationship with God.
I understood God’s love, mercy, grace, and reproof prior to having children of my own, but it was a limited understanding – like the proverbial dark glass. I still don’t understand all those things as deeply as I should, but becoming a dad has made that glass a little less dark. I know what it feels like to be completely FOR my children. They are precious to me in ways that I did not know were possible. I want what is best for them, so much so, that it hurts me deeply when they hurt, when they struggle, and when they fall. I ache for them. That is but a pale reflection of how God feels about me. I’ve also come to understand God’s discipline better. At my best, I don’t punish my kids capriciously or in anger. I do it with love and gentleness. Our Heavenly Father does this and more. He disciplines those He loves. And His hands heal the wounds of discipline. I will be their champion and I will guide their steps until they are ready to walk on their own. That is my divine calling as a father.
Those are just five of the dozens of reasons I am so happy to be a dad. I love my family. I love my kids. Being a dad has made me a better man, a better husband, and a better Christian. I know that in this day it is easy to look at children and families and see them as weights – things that are holding us back from living a truly fulfilled life. I find that to be unspeakably sad. Not everyone is called to fatherhood or even marriage, but those of us that are, we need to appreciate the great blessing and responsibility we have been given. It’s not all fun and games though, and there are any number of things dads need to do so that their families do not become a burden or a source of stress and sadness. But at the end of the day, our job is to be obedient to the Scriptures and leave the rest in the hands of our Heavenly Father. Do me a favor though, in the middle of all that, take some time to appreciate what you have been given. Enjoy those wonderful arrows in your quiver. They are a gift from the Lord.