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Ok, I'm torn again this morning. I'm stepping away from the Life Journal devos for today and pulling out a verse from the Psalms...Psalm 103:13, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him." Today may be a little less theological reflection and a little more "Jamie needs to vent for a second." Just letting you know. When I started this blog in February, I said that I would post my devos and whatever random thoughts might come to mind. So, here is my first random thought.
I think I do alright at the "dad" thing. My baby girls are growing up quick, and they're growing up well. Jennifer just turned 14, Hannah will be 10 in 6 weeks. And all in all, I think I've done alright. I've always made sure they had plenty to eat, plenty to wear, a decent bed to sleep in (which in the parsonage system is sometimes tough, but they're in good shape where we're at now), and I've tried to make sure that they had all they needed. They don't always get everything they want, but they shouldn't, so I don't feel bad about that. I can do a lot to protect them and take care of them, I can show compassion on them like the Psalm says, but there's one thing I can't do...I can't protect their hearts. And this morning, that's killing me.
When I first laid eyes on those little girls, all pink and wrinkled, as the nurses were cleaning them up and wrapping them up in little pink blankets, I knew the day would come when I would have to let go. Let me go on record this morning as saying, "That sucks."
I'm having to start letting go with Jen and it's killing me. Papa Bear's claws came out last night because of something that happened to her yesterday and there wasn't a blasted thing I could do about it, other than show her a father's compassion. So that was what I did.
I know that from now until the day I walk them down the aisle, I'm going to be dealing with boys...that's just part of being a dad to little girls. I know some of those boys are going to break their hearts, also part of it. Still, my instinct to protect is not weakened just because they're growing up. My first priority is to my daughters, and not the boys that come calling.
One of my guys at church said something to me the other day that tickled me to death, especially coming from him. You see, he also raised two little girls. He told me that until there were rings on his daughters' fingers, and he walked them down the aisle, any boy that came calling was nothing more than a wolf and he made sure they knew that. I have to say, I can respect that now. I also apologize to all the moms and dads of the girls I dated in school.
Funny how life can come full circle, isn't it? You see, I was a wolf. Now, I'm the papa bear standing at the mouth of the cave protecting his cubs from the wolves...and that's all they are. It's nothing personal. It doesn't mean they're not good kids, and it doesn't mean that once they put a ring on her finger we can't be buddies. But not yet.
So, I have to at least try to slip in some theological reflection today. As a father, my role would be pretty simple if I were still a carpenter. As a father...and a theologian/pastor...things get muddied up a bit. You see, I posted something a few months ago on my facebook page about fearing me because I'm the dad, and one of my dear friends told me that because of my position, I shouldn't want folks to fear me. And you know what? He was right...
...Even the wolves at the mouth of the cave shouldn't have to fear a pastor. So now, I have to find some way to protect my baby girls from the wolves at the door, while remembering where I stand on Sunday mornings. And this will be something I struggle with for the next few years...just saying.
But for now, I will give my girls a father's compassion. And for the boys...I'll not sit on the porch cleaning my gun when they bring my girls home from a date. I'll not glare at them at the door, well, not much. I will demand their respect and that they respect my daughters. And as long as they do that, papa bear won't threaten to shred them.
Bob Carlisle had a song a few years ago that still chokes me up when I hear it...Butterfly Kisses. He talks about some of the same things I mentioned this morning, but in the end, he had to let her go. I know I will too.