After our routine prayer before dinner one night earlier this week, you asked Mommy and me, “What does ‘Gods’ look like?”
That’s one of those classic kid questions. I love it.
Yet I was so caught off guard by your sincere question of what God looks like, that now, I couldn’t even positively tell you how I answered you.
I mean, you’ve grown up with prayer in our house: In the kitchen before meals, in front of the house before we all leave for work and school, and in the car before we go on long trips.
You’re very familiar with the concept of our family speaking to someone we can’t actually physically see.
Just tonight, while you were holding hands with us during prayer, you began whispering the words to “Ring Around The Rosie.”
I thought you were attempting to pray.
Actually, I guess you were- the best way you knew how.
Still, you have the ability to understand that God is real and invisible; unlike monsters, who you know are not real and only visible on cartoons.
I love admiring the way you are attempting to understand God; because I’m in the same boat, just about 29 years ahead of you.
Of course, speaking of years, the way I see it, time only exists as we know it because of the rate at which the Earth spins and the rate at which it rotates around the sun and the rate at which our temporary bodies age.
That’s how we measure time here on Earth.
But beyond us, greater than us living on this planet, I wonder if time really exists?
Is it true that my Italian grandfather who I was so close to growing up is actually waiting to meet us in Heaven? Or in the “Heavenly Time Zone,” will we pretty much just appear there about the same time he arrives?
So many questions I have about God and Heaven and what life really is like outside of our version of life right now.
With that being said, just know that when you asked what God looks like, it’s something I wonder too.
I think a lot of people are going to be shocked if He doesn’t have a long white beard and a robe.
But I got addicted… and after that first time, I decided to officially change my format of writing about you, to where I write to you.
Exactly a year has passed since that night I sat at our coffee table and cried so hard, realizing my love for you.
Tonight, I’m less emotional in that sense. Instead, I’m feeling fully grounded in how I feel about you and how I understand my love for you.
Instead of a groundbreaking ephiphany, today I simply am grateful for the gift of peace of mind and heart; a gift the world can not give.
In this moment, that is my life. I think of that song, “On Top Of The World” by Imagine Dragons, to describe how I feel about you and me:
“I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.”
I’ve written before about how I pray for you. Today, I want to tell you about how I pray for myself, as your dad.
First, I pray for wisdom, more than anything; because if God grants me wisdom, I am better prepared to handle any future blessings or challenges that come my way.
I pray for wisdom to guide me in life, as a husband, a daddy, as a steward of time and money, and as I attempt to be a decent human being in general.
Life would be so much easier if things were predictable; if life came with a literal play-by-play instruction manual. Instead, by praying for wisdom, I hope to gain maturity to know how to handle each situation; as I build upon what humility as taught me in the past.
Therefore, I also pray for humility.
Though there are many wise sayings about pride, this one by Yogi Bhajan is currently my favorite:
“When ego is lost, limit is lost. You become infinite, kind, beautiful.”
The older I get, the more I realize what really matters in life… and that’s serving other people. Like I wrote you yesterday, I am now very consciously aware of not letting my own specific beliefs on politics, religion, and even food, get in the way of that. So when I speak of what I’m passionate about, I want to be inclusive, not exclusive.
Plus, on the flip side, I figure that the less people in life I give the authority to hurt my feelings, the better. It’s like that great quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Which brings me to the last element of the trifecta of my daily prayer, as a parent:
Every day, I expect for situations in life that will force me to choose to put my wisdom and humility to the test. If there’s not something new I can learn about myself in the process, and if there’s not something new I can learn about overcoming my pride and helping others, it’s then that I should be worried.
Therefore, I need grace on a daily basis. I need grace to land the falls that are sure to come.
I believe that God passionately opposes pride, but gives grace to the humble. Without wisdom, I wouldn’t desire to become humble. But if I am humble, I want grace, God’s favor, along with the humility.
That’s all I’m going to say about wisdom, humility, and grace today… otherwise what I am saying could come across as being prideful.
So I will end with this.
These three things I pray for are also what I hope to share with you on a daily basis, from father to son.
I want to share my wisdom by teaching you, my humility by serving you, and my grace by giving you mine.
After all, if I’m asking these things from my Heavenly Father, I must be wise, humble, and graceful enough to give them to you first.
You started noticing that Mommy and I hold hands and pray before we eat dinner every night.
It’s not some beautiful, poetic thing. We let our words be few: “Dear God, we thank you for this food today and all you have blessed us with. Amen.”
Last week you started wanting in on the action. You smiled at us and lifted your hands out for us to hold them.
So now before dinner, and at night as we’re putting you to bed, and before our family leaves the house for our separate ways in the morning, we pray together.
And you now not only expect it, but I can clearly see you like being a part of it.
I actually think you’re pretty aware of what’s going on. You know who God is from your Beginner’s Bible, as well as from church.
Tonight as I sang “Away In A Manger” as part of your bedtime routine, you stopped me in the middle of the 1st verse and said, “Jesus makes!”
I asked you what Jesus makes and you responded:
“Jesus makes oatmeal… and beans and rice!”
My immediate uproar of laughter pretty much killed the mood for helping you get to sleep. Mommy later explained to me you were referring to the 2nd verse, which she sings to you: “No crying he makes.”
I think it’s really cool that you want to be a part of our family’s prayer times throughout the day. I figure at best, what you gather from us praying is that we not only believe in God, but we trust him.
We have no idea what’s in our future, five minutes from now or five years from now. But we want to be in God’s favor and we know that means loving others as ourselves.
I know that’s a very simple way of explaining our faith to you, but I think if I as your dad can remember that much of it, I could have the faith of a child.
From what I understand, that’s actually a good thing.
I recently realized something: I haven’t really been praying specifically for you. Instead, I’ve been mainly just lumping you in with our family.
Subconsciously, I keep asking myself, “What else should I pray about aside, from his safety and that he will have a bright future? He’s only 2 years old.”
That’s pretty much all my prayers for you have been about: Your safety and your future.
But beyond that, on a daily basis, what else do I want for you? What should I ask God for on your behalf?
I’ve been thinking about this all week and I guess the thing is, until I take the time to write it down, I won’t know the answer.
It’s like I get so used to the habit of praying ad-lib style, that I hardly take the time to map out my thoughts and translate them into prayers.
So while this prayer will surely evolve as you grow older, here’s my prayer for you for right now:
“Heavenly Father, thank you for my son Jack. Please protect him from harm and give him a bright future.
As for his interactions with others today, I pray that in his young age as he is developing his skills to communicate and share, help him to love others as himself.
Let him be a friend today to those who need a friend. Let him be encouraging, strong, and yet still humbled.
Bless him as he learns today about colors and shapes, words and numbers, and all Your creation in between. I pray He will see Your truth in this life and that he will see Your love through me.
Lead me today, as I lead him. I pray in Your name, amen.”
The obvious thing I can’t help but think about as I see this prayer, is the last line. Jack, it’s true you are both a gift and a responsibility.
Sure, the older you get, the more responsible for yourself you will become. But as for now, I am overly mindful of the role I play in your life.
I don’t take my role as your dad lightly. Therefore, I’m very deliberate in how I raise you. That includes how I discipline you, communicate with you, entertain you, engage you, and teach you both small and important lessons in life.
The light doesn’t just one day switch on, and suddenly, what I do as your dad suddenly starts really mattering.