You go into marriage knowing as many things as you can about the man who has swept you off your feet. Our love was young and fast...I didn't even know his favorite color or preferred meal but I knew how his eyes sparkled under clear fall nights on top of that hill in Alabama...and I knew how it felt to ride shotgun in his open top jeep and spontaneously park on the side of the road just to dance under the stars to our favorite song.
We talked about eloping after only six short weeks of dating. We dreamed wide eyed about having a large family moving all over the country and working our way up the ladder. We didn't have a dime. We were barley in our 20's...most people thought we were crazy. "Rushing into things when for the Lords sake she's not even through with school!" But we never had a doubt. There wasn't ever even one pinch of hesitation in our minds...this was going to work. I knew it like I knew his phone number...I dialed it one hundred times a day. It was written on my heart.
We held hands all the time, I became pretty good at doing most things one handed, the other one was finger locked with his. I knew a lot about this young man, we talked long hours, but at the same time...all I really knew was what he said he was going to do...
We know nothing about a man until we see him not as just our spouse...but as a father. And we have no way of testing these waters. They see the belly growing and they notice "all the changes" happening to your once well maintained body...but they don't know...I mean really know...until the day they hear that deep swell of first breath air filling tiny lungs...and the wail that follows.
Then begins this journey...the one you planned for but don't have a map. The one where character is built or destroyed. And just as a mother waits expectant to see the color of her new borns eyes and the shape of its nose...so she waits to see the response from her man. She wants to witness his reaction to the introduction of himself. It's magic.
I'm sitting here typing this and I can here my husband downstairs playing a new game with the girls. It's an app of charades called heads Up (I think) and they are roaring with laughter. And I cant help but stop and just weep at the miracle of it. The bonding that has taken place with a man and his children over the last 15 years. It can not be replaced in a child's life. And God knew that. It's not perfect, I'm laughing as I even say that, not at all, its so messy this parenting thing. But the process, when not given up on, IS the gift. It is the story. There is no final result, you are always on the field...in the game.
Here on this Christmas Eve, Eve (My youngest made up that name for today so she could try and get an early present) I'm thinking about Joseph. He was leading his soon to be wife into the delivery room, the one with out doctors and nurses and God Bless her soul an epidural. The one without heart monitors and latex gloves and oh my word there wasn't any hand sanitizer. And there he was...a man, a newbie dad...delivering God's Son. Deep Breath.
A love story like no other...were they holding hands, Mary and Joseph, as the labor began? Were they anticipating the color of His eyes and the shape of His nose? Would He resemble Mary? Did Joseph bond right away or was he just terrified and exhausted? If he was...rightly so! An adoption, a step father...an earthy father for the Son of The Creator of the Universe...God.
Is this how they had planned it when they were in courtship, dancing under the stars...I'm going to just say Um, no. But Joseph, being a man of God, stepped up to the plate...stayed in it for the tough stuff. The stuff that married couples really hope they don't have to deal with until years after vows. The stuff of doubting, the pit in your stomach that makes you wonder..."This is more than I bargained for...Is this really going to work?"
And then He came...just as God said it would happen. Born of a Virgin...delivered into the hands of a man who didn't run away. A man of integrity, who stood by his woman even when her story was ridiculous. When the public was glaring at this unwed teenager, he was faithful, and he didn't have to be. He could have chickened out and God would have rewritten the story but he stayed. And we are all better for it.
What a beautiful picture of fatherhood. The kind with a beginning no man would desire and the one with an ending that was the raising of a man who would save the world. The kind that honors God. An example any man can follow. Trust God, stick around and raise your children...the ones God gives you.
If I made you a list of the top 10 things I love and admire about my husband, four of those reasons would include how he fathers our four girls. Nothing can replace his role in their lives. His protection, his providing of spiritual guidance, the food he works so hard for to feed them, the time he invests.... From the delivery room wonderstruck man who *just like that* became a father. The role of a lifetime...the one that is hard to mess up if you will only commit it to God and just show up...stay. Lead with grace and love and the rest will tell the story of the greatest daddy in the world, you.
I am thankful God included a man in the story of the birth of our Hope, our Salvation. He didn't have too, but he wanted too. He continues to set examples for us all....we need our men. Our strong fathers who hold double fisted to the voice of God. Our Daddies....thank you Lord.