Four years ago, I know your life pretty much came crashing down around you in this moment.In the best of ways, though. To get to slip that pink hospital bracelet on, and be ushered through a pad-locked door into a dimly lit nursery where your brand new daughter lay unattended, but content, in a clear bassinet. I will never forget how quiet that little room was, and how a few of the nurses shushed themselves out of the way so as to give our little family some private time with the most beautiful human being we’d ever seen. This was the moment you met your daughter for the very first time. She appropriately gave you the right of passage into fatherhood with her need to be fed almost immediately. And as the person on the other side of that camera lens, my world and brick walls crashed down, too, as I got to bear witness to you becoming a father.
She was almost 12 hours old in this moment. And you and I share sacred heartfelt things over the many years that led to her, and the circumstances that were swirling at this particular moment. Adoption is what brought this moment into our lives, and I know you and I can agree that getting to bond with her right here was such a beautiful, heart-wrenching, and glorious experience; but not without its dose of heartbreak, as her first mom and dad were dying a little inside while we rejoiced. But even in every twist and turn of the emotional roller coaster we were on, I think you and I can also agree that we had no idea just how incredibly good things were about to become. And this was kind of a “mountain-top moment”, ya know? I mean, look at that adoration on your face!
I’ve always described you as a father as, “smitten”. It’s just been that kind of emotional description over the years that has been a constant. Your affection for this little girl is something so precious. It’s gentle. It’s very clear and obvious as any bystander can see while watching the interactions between the two of you.
I remember this moment, too. This was the day we got to bring her home with us, still unsure as to whether we would actually get to keep her forever. The family had already left, and the excitement of the day was calming down, and as I passed through the living room, I spotted you guys. Thankful to have captured the moment, I remember the tight grip I felt on my heart as I silently prayed that God would work out all the chaos so that this moment didn’t have to end. I prayed that He would protect your heart as I knew you were in-over-your-head IN LOVE and IN AWE of your baby.
I don’t know… Maybe you were looking on with terror in those eyes of yours. Maybe it was just complete fear and uncertainty of how to responsibly raise a person, as any new parent can relate. Maybe it was just nervousness and anxiety. But again, as the person on the other side of the camera lens, I just saw the man I loved, absolutely wrecked with emotion and love-without-condition for the daughter gifted and not created by him.
Things just progressed so amazingly. I knew they would, as you’ve always had every quality and ability in your DNA makeup to be an outstanding husband and father. I know you had a pretty awesome upbringing, and a great father-figure in your life who modeled what it meant to be a hands-on kind of dad. I know that’s part of it. But I also know that being attentive, and present, and stepping up to the plate is just who YOU are. You’re totally that Dad who doesn’t back down from a thing. Even though the world might pawn “little girl responsibilities” off on the moms a lot, that’s not you. You are a man of ownership and responsibility. You know who you are. And so I thank you for taking ownership of your role as Dad, and going above and beyond to bond with and care for your child.
Nevermind the fact that you were husband, father, student AND employee… It never kept you from changing a diaper, claiming a sleepless night to help and relieve me, or learning and educating yourself about all the ins and outs of raising a little girl. You’ve been my helper, and a fully-invested father. And I hope you know how you’ve changed our lives through your commitment to us.
Innovative as you are, the world needs more fathers like you. Fathers who aren’t afraid to venture down the hard paths, and put someone else before themselves. Heck, the world needs more fathers who will think on their feet and invent a cotton nose plug and change their babies poop-filled nappies. The world needs more fathers who aren’t afraid to be puked on, who aren’t afraid of sacrifice, and service. The world needs more of that. Servant-hearted fathers. Like you.
You need to know that we love you. And that while I’m not one to lie and say that “we couldn’t live without you..”, I will say that we don’t WANT to live without you. Life is so beautiful with you.
I could go on and on about how much I know, and those around us know that you love your daughter. As parents, I think we think about that a lot. How much WE love our kids. And how to be a better parent, and how to show them every day, and as much as we can, that we love them. And albeit, all necessary and true…
But do you know how adored YOU are?
Have you seen the way she looks at you?
Do you know what it feels like to watch her love YOU?
You know how I feel about the adopter/rescuer mentality. You and I both know that this is a journey we’re on NOT because we are some kind of heroes. We aren’t rescuers. We are the rescued. But that aside, in so many other ways, you are her hero.
In her eyes, you love her with such passionate pursuit. And you have set the bar in her life for her future love. By your love and pursuit of her, you have rescued her from a life of the wrong kind of love. Because of your love and pursuit of her, she will never NOT know true love. You are the first man she’s ever held affection for. The first man to ever instill a sense of value and worth in her. You’re the first man to ever tell her how beautiful she is. You have taught her what it looks like to be a man of your word – to be committed and faithful. To STAY. When the world wants to glamorize and idolize and falsify love, you are showing her the truth. When the world likes to take advantage and exploit the innocent, you are standing guard and protecting. When moms and dads lose sight of vows and covenants, and are walking out when the going gets tough, you are loving your wife, and putting me first – showing your daughter that it’s GOOD for mommies and daddies to love each other physically, mentally, and emotionally. When she goes astray and makes the wrong decision, you never stop pursuing.
And as I read these words over, I realize there is sort of a parallel here. Does this sound familiar? This talk of true love, and commitment, and covenant, and protection, and pursuit?
Sounds like another Father we know.
I’m not comparing you to God, as you know, but I will venture to say that you are a fantastic earthly representative of His heart for Selah. Our daughter. You encompass everything that a man should, from God, for his family.
Selah will only have the best in a father always. I hope you know that. I hope you believe it at your core. Because like our Father in Heaven, He has created a great father in you, my love. I know this because I used to be Selah. I was once that little girl who stared adoringly at the man who loved me more than he could ever put into words. Maybe I didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time, but the adult me is now staring at a daily picture and reminder of what it was that I felt in my heart at the ripe young age of even three. And I’m watching you father her so so well, that the little girl still inside of me is telling you to keep up the good work.
Don’t you let up. You keep loving her ferociously. You keep pursuing her. You keep investing in her. Teaching her. Keep giving in to all the princess talk. And pink. Continue showing her the affection with the sweet hugs and kisses, and the telling her how beautiful she is. Don’t stop “dating” her, even when this little girl turns into a woman. And don’t ever lose that tenderness you have for her.
Because the truth is that she loves you, too. You are filling up a well within this little lady that will eventually become an anchor in her life. It will reflect her confidence and self-worth, and be a beacon of light in a very dark world. It goes without saying that moms play a very important role in the lives of their children, but I’d venture to say that dads play one, too. An especially important one to their little girls.
You’ve set the bar very high, you. You should be proud of the father you are to this special one. She’s pretty awesome, and it has more to do with than just me, I’ll admit. *wink* I am so proud of you. Honored to honor you. Happy Fathers Day, Jeremy.
“You’re a good good Father.
It’s who You are, It’s who You are.
And I’m loved by You.
It’s who I am, It’s who I am…”