Happy Father’s Day. It seems only appropriate that I write a few thoughts about fathers and fatherhood. I have written before about lessons I have learned from my father (here, and here), and I have written about becoming a father myself, but now it has been over a year and a half since my son was born and I am constantly learning new things about what it means to be a father.
First, I am awestruck at the fact that I am a father. I have a son who looks up to me as his male role model, he looks to me to learn what he should be like as a righteous Priesthood holder and man of God. That responsibility is a little overwhelming at times. But then I am reminded of my Father in Heaven. Here we have God, Eternal, Omnipotent and Omniscient, The Almighty, the Greatest being in the universe, and yet, what does he want to be called? How does he introduce himself to us? As our Father. That should help us understand somewhat the importance that He places on fatherhood, but it also shows us that we are not left alone when it comes to raising our children. We have a Father who knows infinitely more than we do what should be done in each situation.
I know that I have turned to my own father at times with questions about what I should do when leading and presiding over my family, and he ha been a wonderful example to me. My father has always been one to do what is right, because it was right, and because he was able to do it. He serves where is asked to without complaint, he does what needs to be done. He has always been so loving to my mother, willing to step in and help where he could, even if he was often busy with work and other things. My dad worked second shift, so I didn’t often see him during the week: He woke after I had left for school, had gone to work before I cam home, and came home after I had gone to bed. So, I usually only saw him on weekends. But we never forgot that dad was our father, he never lost his place as the head of the family. He kept himself involved with our lives and we wrote notes to him each evening that we left on his recliner.
In the last 19 months since my son was born, I have learned from him as I hope he has learned from me. I have learned to be patient, to be loving, to be thankful for every blessing in our daily lives. James is such a wonderful boy, so friendly and willing to show everyone how happy he is. He will walk up to complete strangers and offer them something, a hug or a kiss or a toy that he has. Even after he has done something he knows is wrong, he will run to you and hug your legs and give you a look that melts your heart. And thus I have learned about forgiveness from a father’s perspective. I love my son and when I tell him “No” it is not because I don’t want him to have fun or do what he wants, but because I want him to be safe. I tell him No, and he looks at me with that look in his eyes that asks for forgiveness, and I begin to understand the scripture that says “My bowels are filled with compassion towards you” (3 Nephi 17:6). I want to forgive him for the wrong that he has done, but I also want him to remember and not do the wrong again. Because I am not perfect, though, I am not always that quick to want to forgive my son for being naughty, but our Father in Heaven, who is perfect, is as quick to forgive us as we are to repent.
Fatherhood is an eternal principle, it is not just based on the number of kids one has or what one does in relation to one’s kids. Being a father is a part of the character of one’s soul. We read and believe that “we are the children of God, and if children then heirs” (Romans 8:16-17), and that means that we have hope of one day being as our Father is. We learn here, in this mortal sphere, how we should act and be as fathers and as Priesthood holders from the One who is the Eternal Father of all of our souls. And as we desire to have constant contact with our children, to know who they are and what they are doing and to be a part of their lives, our Father desires to have that kind of contact with us. He asks us to pray to him, to talk to him, to share with him our hopes and dreams and fears and desires. He will be there for us to bless us with all of the things that we stand in need of.
On this Father’s day, remember the fathers in your life. Remember the things they have done for you. Remember how we are to act as fathers to our own sons, and we will be blessed with a measure of the spirit and led in all things that we should do. Being a father is the most important thing a man can do in this life or the next. It is what we are meant to be, it is a part of our eternal nature as we prepare to return to our own Father to take our place in his Kingdom.