My wife Missy had uttered the life-changing words “it's time,” a grueling 7 hours earlier. It felt like more than 7 years. Against her fear of me passing or grossing out, I curiously stood eagle-eyed with wonder behind the doctor, as our firstborn entered the world. It was the most beautiful, holy, sacred scene I had ever witnessed. Had I not already believed in God, I would have started to do so at that exact moment. When the doctor put you in my arms, I had a hard time breathing because my heart was pounding like a kick drum.
On knees as weak as spaghetti, I gently grabbed a chair and adored you, worshipped you, and being unable to control my crock-pot of emotions…I just cried. I had never experienced love in the way I felt it that day. It was a different kind of love, the kind that not only saturates you, but also steals your heart, your soul, and forever changes your every facet of life. Hours later, doting at the nursery window, this macho man, turned marshmallow man, cried even more.
Over the next 10 years, the experience was repeated with the exact same elation, two more times with your brother and sister. The three of you gifted me with the greatest and most rewarding role I have ever been assigned… the role of being a Dad. No one stirs, moves, motivates, or inspires me in the way you do and nobody could have ever brought the tears of joy, pride, and sorrow as you have.
Let me explain…
I cried the night I came home from a 12-hour shift at Fed Ex. I had been praying that since I was missing all of your “firsts” that God would make a way for me to be home when you took your first footsteps. With exact precision, I can recall every detail of that night you let go of the table. You had pulled yourself up too and turned to face me on those wobbly legs. You grinned at me, as you took the very first three steps of your life into my awaiting arms. I swung you in the air with tears racing down my cheeks while asking Mom over, and over if she saw the miracle. I told everyone I knew. No one can ever take that night away from me. I still think of it often because it brings happiness and peace.
I cried at your graduation. That’s an understatement… I sobbed. That’s correct, right there in the coliseum, with thousands attending; nobody, not even Mom cried, and certainly not any of the other dads. Oh I fought the tears all right, with all I had but the more I fought them the worse they got. By the time you walked across the stage my eyes were so swollen I could barely see you. They were tears of both joy and sadness as I watched with pride, my boy becoming a man. It was a new chapter for us both, and all I kept wondering was where the time had gone.
I cried the first time you left home to go on your own. I wanted to be strong for your mother, hide the pain, but I failed miserably, because I felt like I had been gutted. It seemed like I was losing you. Standing there watching your car pull away was one of the hardest days of my life. Why did I always want you to grow up and when you did I stood there wishing that you never had?
I cried just last night before you left to go home, not with tears, but you knew I was choked up when my voice cracked, as I told you how much I enjoyed you going with the rest of us on family vacation. The last three years the rest of us were in Colorado and I spent much of my time thinking about you- wishing you were with us. It was like trying to drive forward on a flat tire. When we hugged goodbye, my extremely unusual kiss on the cheek, was me trying to say what words could not.
This Father's Day, I will be away from home, preaching in Louisiana. The miles apart will only enhance how much I will miss you and your two siblings. I will remember the only three people in the world who can call me dad, the good times we've shared, and all the ways you make me rich. Now and forever, I love you and I hope my track record proves that nothing will ever change that.
Being a father will always be my greatest achievement. Crowds, money, accolades, books, TV appearances nor ANYTHING else could ever mean more than being your father. I hope I make you proud and whenever my life comes to an end that you can say with complete honesty that I was a faithful, loyal father, who never wavered in my love or support for you.
Someone once said that tears are “heart water” and I believe it's true because no one fills my heart more than you, your brother, and sister.