culture crossing

Helpers in Missions – Chemnitz Journal

On Fatherhood May 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — missionreaction @ 2:53 pm

The following is another meandering set of observations, not really an update about Micah. If you want to see lots and lots of pictures, be our friends on Facebook! Tiffany has uploaded a lot the last few days.

After three weeks, all I can say about fatherhood is that it’s work. Because of some rather unpleasant complications, feeding him has become a two-person affair. Armed with expensive mechanical equipment, boiling water, bottles, various types of bottle nipples, doubts as to whether the bottle we’re using has been properly washed, and about fort-five spit rags, we set about trying to slay the hunger monster before Micah gets too fussy and we get too frustrated that we all wind up weeping on the couch. Don’t get me wrong: being Micah’s father is joyful. It’s just that I now better understand the difference between experiencing joy and feeling happy. In fact, at 2 am, when Micah has sprayed his joy all over both his and my pajamas, my state of mind could not possibly be described as “happy.”

Interestingly, Micah was born about the same time that I became a father. It’s an overlap that’s caused some difficulties. The first few days he was trying to adjust himself to a harsh life of temperature variations and regular pooping, all the while being stuck with a poor sap of a caregiver whose ineptitude was only outweighed by his abject fear. I kid only a little; for days I was ready to call an ambulance at every change in his breathing. But Micah is completely healthy and acclimating to the world quite commendably. And how am I acclimating to fatherhood? Well, it remains to be seen. I suppose we’ll just have to ask Micah in, say, 23 years.

One small revelation has been slowly washing over me the past three weeks that I’d like to share with you. I think about the future a lot, so much so that living in the present—actually being mentally present—has been a challenge. But when I visualize my life in some future, it’s never really me that I’m imagining but some cool, ideal Future Roy that’s really not me at all. For example, Future Roy (FR) is always in shape, like I’m always just a couple months away from my dormant passion for marathon running being activated. Seriously, the guy typing this post, the guy who wastes too much time surfing the internet, who struggles with anxiety-induced obsessions and compulsions, who teaches about Christ’s sanctifying grace while struggling with his own sins, who has an over-indulged fondness for dairy products—he never appears in my fantasies about the future! Apparently, any day now I’ll wake up and Ol’ Roy (OR) will just be some memory that FR uses in sermon illustrations.

The thing is, OR was never in my fatherhood fantasies! It turns out that, even having gone through a change so apocalyptic as the birth of a firstborn, I’m still me! I still love cheese! My filing cabinet is still a mess! Micah being born has not—as I expected—made me a different person. On the one hand, this is very disappointing: FR really had it all together. He was a great father. He was patient, loving, and always finding elements in the mundane to teach Micah the sheer magnificence of life. He even had picked up woodworking as a hobby and made toys. He was a cool guy, and I’d have loved to have been him. On the other hand, realizing that I am who I am is incredibly liberating. God doesn’t love FR because FR’s a fantasy; God loves me. He loves me and all the brokenness in the world won’t change that, and I don’t have to wait around for some magical metamorphosis to experience his love and grace. And I am being transformed; his spirit is in me, taking my pain and my weakness and my brokenness and slowly, patiently bringing me closer to Jesus.


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