There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens – Ecclesiastes 3:1
Over the years, I have passed many milestones of aging. Some of them have been good. I couldn’t wait to turn sixteen to get my driver’s license, or turning 21 so I could have a few drinks with the guys. Lately, those positive milestones have had a financial theme; cheaper car insurance rates and all of the senior citizens discounts that await me. Even my favorite NASCAR driver is now sponsored by AARP, so aging must be a good thing.
Sadly, aging brings with it changes that cannot be described in such glowing terms. My arthritic knee serves as a daily reminder of that. And if that were the only one! As I grow older, I find my view of the world has changed. Things that used to be critically important don’t matter so much. My body can’t keep up with my brain. I can’t run, jump and play the way I used to, and if I do, the recovery time is much longer. Years ago, the phrase “throwing them back until closing” meant something different. Now it means throwing back the lever on my rocker/recliner until closing my eyes and falling asleep. And the worst thing of all? It’s not gray hairs or nose hairs; it’s gray nose hairs! Whose idea of a cruel joke was that? Definitely something I’m adding to my list of questions when I get to heaven.
So why am I spending so much time thinking about aging? It’s due in part to a birthday: not mine, but my daughter’s. Emma, my youngest child, turns eight today. It’s a big day for her, and along with it come several thoughts for me – some positive and some eye opening. Starting with the positive thought, she will no longer need a booster seat in the car, marking the first time that my car will not need a child seat since 1998! (The parents reading this know my joy on that one). Every day that passes brings her increased knowledge, confidence and abilities. She is growing up quickly. Maybe too quickly.
For as long as she could speak, I have been known to her as “Daddy.” This is undoubtedly the greatest name I have ever been called. Before long, that name is going to change as maturity transforms me from Daddy to Dad. I’ve seen this before. My son made that transition back around the same age that Emma has now reached. I recognized the change at the time, but took it in stride. After all, he’s a boy heading toward manhood so losing the -dy wasn’t a bad thing. Besides – Emma was still young and the name was still in use. But it is clear to me that when Emma reaches the age where she refers to me as Dad, the -dy is going to die, and I don’t like it.
I’ve accepted growing older. 40 came and went and didn’t faze me. My son is in high school now and college is just around the corner. So why does moving from Daddy to Dad bug me? Think about the level of love expressed by little ones to their parents. Psychologists can better describe the developmental levels involved here, but from my simple mind comes this simple thought: My daughter relies upon me for food, shelter, security, strength and stability. I provide her with love, safety, rules, and rewards that will prepare her for life as a strong, confident, Christian woman. But for now, I am the ONLY man my daughter needs in her life until the day (MANY YEARS FROM NOW) that God presents to us the one He has chosen to be her husband. It’s an awesome responsibility that God has given me – one I have taken seriously. And while the full measure of my reward for this work will be realized much later, the short-term payments have come in hugs, laughs, and the words “I love you Daddy.”
Ecclesiastes 3 is an oft quoted scripture which talks about the natural progression of life. But when you read on you find words that bring a higher level of perspective; words that mean a great deal to me today as a contemplate this moment of my life. “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it” (Ecclesiastes 3:14). God brought children into my life, entrusting me with the task of raising them to do His work. As they grow, they will develop into the man and woman of faith they were created by God to be. Through the Holy Spirit, my efforts help ensure this future outcome for them. As for me, God promises that these sacrifices will create a bond of love built between parent and child that will never be broken. This provides us the slightest glimpse of the amazing, unconditional love that our Heavenly Daddy has for every one of us. So if He’s okay with me calling Him God, Father, Jehovah, or I AM, I suppose I will be okay with being plain old dad.
I will certainly be old – the gray nose hairs prove it!