Today begins the first of our series, “Boy to Man to Father to Dad.” Over the next four weeks, you’ll see how we (myself, Mat, Dan, and Kevin) grew up to become the dads we are. Each of our stories are different, and quite frankly, each contain a level of hurt. It is these hurts and our joys that teach us to be the father’s we’ve become.
I grew up in a family with both parents (still married) and two siblings, a younger brother and sister. As a kid, it was easily the ideal family; we had enough money to live comfortable (though were never rich), both our parents attended as many of our sporting, concert, and any other events they could. They couldn’t get them all. Us three siblings were spaced out enough that at one point, my parents had a kid in three different school. With two parents, you simply can’t get to everything.
None of us felt left out though, because we could do the math, and mainly because my parents would talk about who they could see that week. The time was shared, and games weren’t always on the same night, etc. So my childhood is remembered with fond memories.
Growing up, though, I found myself a very depressed boy. To this day, I’m not sure what it was. I contemplated suicide on a regular basis as a teenager. Though I would place with sharp objects against my arms, I never had the courage (or, perhaps, mental instability?) to do more than play. Still, I felt a darkness pressing down on me.
I had a fight with my mom one night while the family was out camping. Truth be told, I had many fights with my mom as a teenager. Looking back, we find those fights rather ironic; despite how little we understood each other then, we’re very similar now. This particular fight ended up with me telling my mom that I was suicidal.
As a result, I went and spoke with my youth pastor. I’d been attending the same Lutheran church since I was a child off and on (see how my growth as a Lutheran has affected my perspective at LostLittleLutheran.com), and though I rarely attended youth group, this youth pastor had quite a profound affect on me. He was able to explain to empathize with what I experienced, leaving me with a better understanding of myself.
During this depression, I not only discovered my attraction to girls, but began dating them. A lot. I think by the time I was out of high school, I had over a dozen girlfriends at one point or another. While none of them ended up overly physical, the emotional damage is not much of a gift to give my wife. Even to this day, I still battle some of the affects left behind from those relationships.
In college, I came to a deeper understanding of myself, and began searching for God. I was going to a Christian college, and not only did I discover God, but discovered that I didn’t quite agree many of the evangelical viewpoints. Despite my Lutheran background being evangelical, my church was a lot less conservative-evangelical. All that to say, I was surrounded by people who had different viewpoints than I did. Never-the-less, I found a passion for God, the Bible, and theology.
After college I married my wife. She is the most beautiful, caring, loving, energetic, and compassionate woman I’ve ever met. She was raised in a family similar to mine (only with 4 siblings rather than 2). Though we are polar opposites (she’s asleep by 9 at night, I’m not awake until 9 in the morning), we laugh, have fun, and truly enjoy each other. About halfway through our marriage, I entered seminary (where I met Mat, Dan, and Kevin) to further my studies in God, the Bible, and theology.
A year and a half ago, we had our first son. Though I was expecting change, I did not expect it as drastically as it came. It had a profound affect on my wife, which we are still working through. A year into my son’s birth, I wrote some advice entitled What Every New Dad Should Know. Essentially, having a child is nothing like you expect.
One thing I discovered is I better understand God when I watch my son. He’s not perfect; he throws some massive tantrums; he’s quite disobedient. Despite this, he’s hilarious, cuddly, and fun. For all his flaws, I love him with a depth I couldn’t begin to describe to a non-parent.
It is interesting to reflect on your life. You discover what it is that impacted you the most. You discover what you’re willing to lose, and what means more to you than anything else in the world. Going from boyhood into fatherhood was somewhat dark for me, but seeing my son now, it was worth it.