Written by Paul J. Bucknell on July, 09, 2020
Patient Fathering: Learning to Display God’s Endless Love
Memories from the Past
Now, being over 60, I forget the many ways I carried out many of my fathering responsibilities while raising my family. This scene might differ from what you as a father might do, that is fine. But I’d like to share with you the advantage of patient fathering. An opportunity to carry my crying infant grandson triggered these reflections, which caused a reawakening of old memories.
I noticed my grandson’s Mom’s dinner plate virtually untouched because she was caring for her crying son at another person’s home—trying everything to quiet him down. I volunteered to take him for a while and give her a chance to eat. Being new parents, they are a little edgier when things don’t go right. But for my wife and I, having raised eight children, we take it more in stride.
Take a Walk
The first thing I remembered to do was walk him around; that is, don’t put him down. I started carrying him just like I used to do with my children twenty years ago. Sure, he was crying in my ear. (It made me think if that was one reason my hearing started to go bad.) But I remember that my wife always appreciated the extra help with the little ones, especially when she was busy or exhausted. Usually, by the time I picked up the baby, Mom had already reached close to her limit.
For me, it was a natural act of love, care, and leadership. From a practical standpoint, the baby, James, did not quiet down. Truly, if my goal was to have the little one to stop crying, I was a failure. I often couldn’t quiet my children either. When un a big house, I would go to a different part of the house so that my wife wouldn’t need to hear his or her cries. I wanted to give her a break, but this little act of mine also brought about other things.
Again, I was not always an immediate solution to the loud, ongoing crying. To be sure, Mom already checked if the baby was wet, needed a burp, needed feeding, or something was pinching (in the day of diaper pins) or hurting the infant. My attention rose when I noticed she had already checked these things. I became the back-up plan.
- It helped her sleep (if it was at night, maybe because the baby was sick or distressed).
- It affirmed her husband’s love for her, though this was not the first thing on her mind.
- She could take extra comfort in the Lord’s strength, knowing she was not alone in caring for the child (I can see why God teaches single women not to be mothers).
From a Father’s Perspective
Guys, including me, are usually solution-oriented. We tend to look for instant solutions. Maybe this is only true for the engineering type, but this was true for me. I already shared how the expert, my wife, already checked on these things. I was not an expert. When I picked up the fussy, little one, he or she didn’t look so cute with the flushed face and puffy eyes created from his crying. I readied myself for a long battle, a battle of patience. I didn’t know how long, or if ever, the child would calm down. That didn’t matter to me. I was in it for the long haul.
Sometimes it turned to be just that—carrying the crying child without much change. At other times, the little one would quiet down, and I would creep back to put the baby down without disturbing his/her sleep.
Usually, I want to solve things right away, but this situation was quite different. I did not know if I would be successful quieting the baby down or not, but strangely, it didn’t matter. Perhaps, it’s because deeper reasoning resonated in the back of my mind—it just didn’t matter.
I later realized that my real goal was to take on this challenge of expressing love to the one who irritated me so. I hate this crying, but I looked at the situation as if God gave me an opportunity to instill security into my children. This lesson for them is much more valuable than restoring my life back to my comfort zone. I figured that this patience (1 Cor 13:4) somewhat replicated the way He showed grace into my life. I wasn’t a baby, but I was dead in my sins, ignorant of the evil I did, and yet, God in His extraordinary grace sent His Son to save a host of others like me and me.
My persistent effort came from recognizing that God’s love was eternal—nothing challenged it. God wanted me to love that crying child of mine, or recently my grandson, in such a way that they experienced this patient and kind love that crying couldn’t chase away.
God always filled my heart with patience for such uncomfortable situations. I didn’t get frustrated, bewildered, or flustered. I believe that is because my goal went beyond the immediate. I was there to be patient and loving. It didn’t matter if the child stopped crying or not; the little one would be fine. He or she just needed to be patiently loved and know that there is a kind of love like that.
As I carried my crying grandson around, all these memories flooded my mind. Oh, I hummed and sang to little James as before. I tried a few different tricks of distraction. But of most importance, I rededicated myself to love my wife and children, no matter how unlovely they were at times. (This is not the same as ignoring chastising! Read Hebrews 12)
Fatherhood bound me into a situation where God used my children’s difficult times and tempers to teach them His endless love through my life. I would not choose such irritating times, but I am ready (I think) for them when God appoints—whether it be for my grandchildren or those around me.
Discussion Questions for Patient Fathering
- What makes a father a father?
- What expectations are there for a father towards his children?
- How do fathers usually react to crying babies? (Use yourself if you have children.)
- Why did this father seem to have an infinite degree of patience?
- How do you respond to crying babies? Why?
- How did that father replicate God’s love for the child?
- How can that love help nicely train a child?
- What does impatience tell God about our own hearts?
- What does impatience teach a child about life?
- Consider a way you can seek God to mature your patience with someone or some situation and pray.
For further study:
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