Frustration is the frequent companion of a father. His may be the most misunderstood and misrepresented privilege on the face of the earth. He is constantly ridiculed in the media and entertainment industries as a bumbling idiot, an arrogant jerk, an over-sexed deviant, or an inept psychopath. And yet the length of his shadow and the tenor of his words guide and shape his children for a lifetime. His role defines masculinity for his son. He validates femininity in his daughter. His influence is powerful but His presence must be gentle and tender as he shapes fragility into potency.
The privilege he is given comes without roadmap or instruction. Oh there are some snippets here and there of what to do or not do, but most he simply learns on his own or by repeating what he witnessed in his own father, which almost always dictates the results will be mixed, both good and bad. To multiply the degree of difficulty—every child is different—no two are alike. Just when he thinks he’s figured it out and is ready to swing for a homerun, he gets a curve ball with the next kid low and inside. It totally messes him up. Frustrating does not even begin to describe it.
He retains an almost god-status in the life of his toddler, but soon becomes the buffoon who knows absolutely nothing about anything by his teens. How can anyone go from divine genius to dumb goober in the span of just 13 years? His wisdom from years of experience often go unheeded and seem wasted as they bounce off the force field surrounding the superior intellect of a 16 year old prodigy who thinks he know everything but has little or no common sense.
And then he enters that period where there are brief moments of joy in seeing his progeny excel in the things he has taught them—only to see them take a different direction and pursue another cause. They may acknowledge his wisdom but politely say no thank you to his ways. Their ears are enchanted by the beat of another drummer and the siren’s enchanting diddy seems to be one you can dance to. So he patiently waits and prays and eventually helps pick up the pieces of Humpty Dumpty after she falls off the wall. His counsel may have spared her the fall since he himself had already seen that ground up close and personal in the not so distant past. Frustrating?—yeah a little.
Ultimately, he witnesses the echoes of history as his own repeat the cycle in the lives of their little ones. He must now quietly watch being careful not to interfere but knowing secret formulas and schemes that could make life easier for everyone. He may be revered but seen as old fashion—loved but endured—remembered but only at the last moment. In a few short years he has made the short journey from essential to extinction—from the warrior-king of the castle to a white-haired stoic in the recliner. Frustrating?—you bet!
And yet, if a father is paying attention—it will dawn on him sooner or later that the feelings he is experiencing are similar to the ones God must feel as the Father. For you see, every human father bears a strange spiritual resemblance to his natural children. Their experiences are or have been experienced in his relationship to His heavenly Father. And yet the testimony of God as Father is this: For God so loved…that He gave.
Perhaps the solution to the frustration is to ultimately recognize as a father that your job is no different. You are called to love without condition and give without measure. In doing so, you mirror the perfect Father and if that is the heritage you leave—you have been successful even if you are portrayed on TV as an over-weight bald imbecile named Homer.