Lessons Learned in Fatherhood

September 25, 2009 — 3 Comments

We’ve had a pretty rough week in our house this week, most notably because our oldest son came down with croup.  The first night, we slept in shifts as our son continued to wake up terrified and having difficulty breathing.  After a trip to the doctor, we thought we had the problem solved with a few doses of a mild steroid.  We couldn’t have been more wrong…

It turns out that some small children have experience adverse effects when on steroids, and our little man basically broke out into a series of what we can only call “roid rage” fits.  For the last three days, he has been inconsolable for hours on end, aggressive, irritable, and completely out of character from the sweet boy that we have parented.

I’ll recount last night for you:

  • Wakes up whining at 5 am.
  • Throws a fit because he wants to sleep on the couch.
  • Take him to the couch, continues to throw a fit because he wants to sleep in our bed.
  • He proceeds to kick and hit me, and I have to restrain him for the next 45 minutes.

Why do I recount the story?  Because in parenting my son through last night, I learned something very poignant about the nature of fatherhood, and about God’s relationship with me during some rough times.

Here is how my son’s objections went while I was trying to calm him down and keep him from hurting himself and me (so you don’t think I’m a terrible parent, I was simply firmly holding him to my chest so he couldn’t thrash around…no physical harm came to my child):

  • “I want to go sleep in the bed daddy, I want that daddy”
  • “I want mommy…I want mommy”
  • “I want down daddy…let me go daddy”
  • “You’re hurting me daddy”
  • “Why won’t you talk to me daddy?”
  • “You’re hurting me so bad daddy”
  • “Please talk to me daddy!”

This is about when he started to calm down, so I began to sing to him and talked with him about calming down and trying to go to sleep.  As I was there with him though, I couldn’t help but notice how closely this parallels some of my difficult times with our Heavenly Father when He seems to remain silent.

  • I want something and I don’t even know why, I just assume it will make me feel better.
  • I try to run to someone else who I think can make it better.
  • I simply want to be released from Him, and allowed to run away.
  • I think by God not giving me satisfaction in either of those things that he is hurting me.
  • God remains silent, and I wonder why He won’t simply talk with me.
  • The pain gets worse, and I question His goodness.
  • I beg God to talk with me, because I want to know why.
  • Finally, He speaks-silently, but firmly, that He loves me and it is for my good.
  • I end up exhausting myself and finally resting in His embrace.

There are two things that really struck me last night.  First, I never let my son out of my embrace, regardless of how badly he thrashed and the things he pined after.  God, in the same way, never lets His children out of his embrace, even though it may seem unpleasant or non-existent.  Secondly, my silence was for the good of my son, because my words would have only exacerbated his condition and prolonged the fit.  I wonder if those times when God seems distant and silent are simply because He knows his immediate presence would only cause further rebellion in us.

All this to say that I am thankful that God is a perfect Father.  Praise Him that he never lets go of His children, and praise Him that he indeed works all things for the good of those who are called according to His purpose, even when it seems as though it is not.

The love of our Heavenly Father never fails.

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

3 responses to Lessons Learned in Fatherhood

  1. Love this post, man!! Really profound stuff that makes me reflect on my own life.

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