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by Phil Ware

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    Thirty years ago, my dad sat me down and began to apologize. I was on the verge of my high school graduation. He was wrestling with the realities of his own self-disappointments as a father. He could recall failures I could not remember, but he wanted to “clear the deck” and “come clean” on some things very close to his heart. He wanted me to know that he loved me, but that he had disappointed himself in what he had done to mature me, to be my example, and to prepare me for life on my own as my own man. He had disappointed eyes.

    Two things made this moment memorable to me. First, I had the best dad of anyone I knew. Yeah, I knew he was imperfect and that he had blown some things along the way. Yep, he had made me mad more than a time or two and had treated me more harshly than I thought I deserved at times. But bottom line, he was a great dad. A lot better dad than any of my friends had! Second, I knew none of my friends’ dads would ever apologize them, even though many of them deserved an apology or two. Yet here was my dad, telling me he loved me, that he was proud of me, and that he was sorry for not being a better dad!

    As I looked into the mirror the other night, I saw those disappointed eyes once again, and I understood. This time, however, they were my eyes. I realize how much I didn’t teach my children that I wanted them to know. I am convicted of the things that I could have and should have done better. I am deeply aware of some of the inconsistencies in my own life and in the way I have failed to sometimes live out the values that I profess. There are things I wish I had done better. There are things I wish I had never done. Most of all, there is more that I needed to do, to say, and to teach before my children left home for life on their own. But, what I’m left with are disappointed eyes staring me back in the mirror.

...about the time we figure out how important it is, it’s over.
    I don’t believe I’ve been a bad dad. It just that “the dad thing” happens so fast, and then about the time we figure out how important it is, it’s over. One day you rock them and tuck them in their crib, the next they take their first step, a few days later they walk into school for the first time, and before you know it, they walk across the stage with a diploma and their childhood days are gone. It’s a blur and then, “Bye!”

    Thankfully I’ve been down this road once before. I know that my children know that I love them and that I am proud of them. They know that I believe they are both better than I was when I was their age. I am convinced that their faith is real and that they have made it their own. Most of all, I look into their eyes, so full of love, hope, and excitement and I am thankful that I don’t have to look at the future with disappointed eyes. Instead, because we share faith and a common Father, my disappointed eyes have given way to eyes of hope, love, joy, and anticipation. And despite my failings, inconsistencies, shortcomings, and goobers, they’ve begun their journey with faith and hope because they know a more perfect Father who will accompany them on their journey ahead.

    So while a tear or two will cross my eye as we wind things down on our youngest child’s final days of high school, I won’t have disappointed eyes. No, God is greater than my mistakes and failures. He has given me a greater gift than I deserve. Through my tears of joy and pride, you will see me looking at my daughter with eyes of love, joy, admiration, excitement, anticipation, and delight. I’m not going to say good-bye to her, but to my disappointed eyes. Through her, God has given me more than I’ve invested and better than I deserve. I can’t wait to see what he will do with her tomorrow!

    Dear abba Father, please help my children know my love, overcome my failures, and find your joy in the days ahead. Thank you for the privilege of being their dad. Please protect them on their journey, and at your right time, bring us all back together around your throne in celebration and great joy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 
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      Title: ""
      Author: Phil Ware
      Publication Date: May 27, 2003


 
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