On a Thursday morning in May, a long, long time ago, my dad took his first look at his first-born son.
That would have been me.
Apparently, the struggle of birth was a little tough. The doctor had resorted to using forceps to pull me into the world, leaving red marks on my temples and giving my skull a distinctive – though temporary – cone shape.
Mind you, this was before Saturday Night Live made the “Coneheads” funny and popular.
My dad was selling insurance and cars in those days. He wasn’t up to speed on labor and delivery, and no one had warned him about the tug of war over my scalp.
A nurse brought the screaming newborn out to the viewing area.
In those days fathers were banned to the waiting room. Amazing thought, really. His was the only generation in history that wasn’t allowed to lend a hand in the birthing process. He was completely clueless of what to expect.
So there he stood, staring at an unhappy baby who badly needed a shower, a meal and a nap.
Before he knew it, the nurse had disappeared to the inner sanctum again, and he was left to gather his wits.
Years later, after my own children started coming along, my father told me the story. And he told me of the first prayer he ever uttered over one of his children.
“Dear God,” my father prayed, “please help me love this baby … no matter what’s wrong with him.”
This blog gives most its space to digging for new insights from the land of the Bible. On this Father’s Day, however, I’m looking for insights into fatherhood.
And perhaps there’s no better picture of a godly dad than the confused, frightened, emotional wreck of a man who thinks his son had crash landed on the approach to the hospital runway … and who decides to love the kid anyway.
Truth be told, the boy was a long way from perfect, though the impact of his apparent injuries lasted no more than a few hours. He would need a father who would love him despite the imperfections. The scars of rebellion would last far longer than anything the doctor had done in the beginning. The boy would need a dad who would do his best to follow the Bible’s instruction to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord,” all the time without “exasperating” him. (Ephesians 6:4)
My father turns 85 tomorrow. He has lived to see his children’s children, the sweet promise of Psalm 128. Even better, he has seen his first-born son become the confused, frightened, emotional wreck of a man trying to figure out what he’s supposed to do with the squirming little coneheads of his own.
It must have been an entertaining show.
If you’re a dad, a mom, a grandparent or an adult who influences the children around you, take a lesson from one of the best men I know.
Unconditional love will teach you how to get this done.
Just love them … no matter what’s wrong with them!