For some reason when I thought of the title for today’s blog I was thinking about a fruit juice that I think was called the same name because it had five different fruits that contributed to the juice. I’m not sure if it’s still around or if it’s been taken off the market. It would be a pity if it has ... only for the purposes of this blog, not because I like it or anything. Those juice combinations didn’t always work out for the best and if my taste bud memory serves me faithfully that particular juice concoction wasn’t among me best.
All of which provides an insightful, though completely irrelevant set-up for today’s blog celebrating the fifth birthday of my firstborn child Deborah Dryden. I’m not sure if I’ve written that much about my experiences on being a father. I don’t think I have which is interesting when a significant part of my life and evident vocation is to be a father to my children. As me wife currently struggles and hobbles and waddles with our third child steadily developing in her tummy it is an apt time to reflect on the first one out of our relationship.
I didn’t prepare myself that much for marriage and even less for parenthood. I didn’t read up on it that voraciously. I didn’t do the usual sit down with the significant elders in my life who could pass on words of wisdom. Indeed the season before the firstborn’s appearance was a traumatic one for me and the marital relationship. So even if I did make the time to have those reads and chats I would not have had the emotional capacity to take it on. Such as it is then, at the most precious time in a man’s life when he beholds the miracle of childbirth I was not fully with it to appreciate it. No tears rolling down me eyes at the sight of this fluid covered baby.
Thankfully all that has changed significantly over those five years and whenever I look at Deborah now, I know the grace of God is real. Even whilst I was writing yesterday’s blog I was thinking about grace and how it works very much in the parental analogy. In a real way that child has done nothing to deserve the fuss made over her. She hasn’t worked for it, she hasn’t put in her hours, she hasn’t done anything and yet she is the beneficiary of being fed, clothed, catered for physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually by doting parents who evidently love to do it.
Therein is the rub – the bond is love. It’s not based on works done, it’s based on love. That is exactly how I often think it works with my relationship with my heavenly Father. He doesn’t love me for the things I do, He loves me because He is love and thus is the essence of loving out of His character. Thus to a large extent my actions and behaviour does not alter His character. Of course that doesn’t mean I then just stay in baby mode and just be a beneficiary taking it all in and only responding by crying when I’m hungry and belching when I’m finished with the food. The act of gratitude shows my active engagement in the grace exchange.
At five, though, Deborah has developed a number of attributes and characteristics that makes her quite a different being than the one that emerged from the womb of her mother all those years ago. Now she is a most verbose little girl quick to point out when something is not fair as well as give ongoing commentary on the many aspects of her busy life. Albeit a soft girl, she is very wily and knows what note to play at a given time. She is also a courteous girl, which delights me so. I do enjoy some of her verbal ramblings and her general conduct makes me pleased. Beyond that though, I still look at this now five year old girl and thank God for her. She is amazing and to know the circumstances in which she popped out and how that has not doused any sense of joy in her makes my heart glad. Seeing the creative developments flourishing in her and noting her God-given special characteristics makes it ever so exciting to be her dad.
So as five comes and goes today and as she milks being the centre of attention my heart’s desire is that she will still bear in mind that the real centre of attention is her heavenly Father who has given her so much good in her life. My prayer is likewise that her mother and father will also grow in being examples of that life of gratitude in the light of God’s grace, so that she will have an idea where to go as her own spiritual journey develops.
For His Name’s Sake