Last night Trinity and I had a “daddy daughter” sleep over, something we haven’t done in quite some time. As a father, it’s important to me that I take time to make memories with my kids. As a father, I know the importance of these moments in the development of their lives, their personalities and also in teaching them what true love looks like.
As I lay in bed with my daughter, reading a book and telling stories, I couldn’t help but think that this moment couldn’t last forever. One day my little girl will be a woman. One day the arm that holds her tight will not be mine, but the arm of her husband. It’s an overwhelming thought, but a realistic one nonetheless.
In this moment I was flooded with emotions. I was swept away with joy because of the great opportunity I have to invest in the life of my daughter, and at the same time I was filled with sorrow, knowing that I couldn’t stay in this moment forever. As children grow up, so to do their parents. We grow together. I know that my job as a parent is to raise adults, not children. As a father, I have the great privilege of teaching my children how to love God and love others. At the same time, through my life, my words and my actions, they will learn from me what it means to receive love. How I treat my wife will dictate how my daughter views men and what she desires in a husband. This is a great responsibility. It is intimidating, and yet it is a great honor.
If I want my daughter to receive love in a Godly manner, I must show her that love. If I want her to marry a man who leads his family in a Godly way, I must be that man in her life now. In Ephesians, Paul talks about how husbands are to love their wives. Likewise, I believe these same verses could apply to men with daughters.
In Ephesians 5:25-28, Paul writes:
“25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
Let’s assume first that as Christian men we treat our wives in this way. Let’s assume that we seek daily to show them the love they deserve as God’s daughters, loving them as Christ loves His church. If we men were to do this, how much better would the lives of our family be? Our son would learn what it meant to love a woman, and our daughters would learn what true love looked like. Now, with this assumption firmly in place, let’s pretend for just a minute that this same section of scripture applies to parenting. With no intent of taking away from the holiness of God’s word, I want to offer my own adaptation of these verses. Fathers, pay close attention!
Fathers, love your children, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her! He did this not for Himself, but to heal His church and make it whole. In the same way, as fathers, we are to daily wash our children with the Word of God, knowing that we are preparing God’s children for the world. As fathers, we are to love our children as we love ourselves. We are to prioritize them above our desires, knowing that we only have them in our care for a moment in time. Because if we truly love ourselves as Christ does, we will love our children with more than just words, capturing each moment of life and knowing that the way we love will shape who they will become and how they will love.
One day my daughter will no longer be in the care of my arms, however if I “Train a child in the way he (she) should go… (Proverbs 22:6a),” one day she will rest in the arms of the Father.
Love can only be caught, not taught.
Lord help me love in a way that Your love is seen, so that in each day my children will see more of You through the way I love them!