It seemed when I was a child the weather would suddenly cool, and
that meant school would soon start. Well, these days the summer is still
sweltering and we cut lots of summer expeditions short to begin the new
school year. This year was an especially exciting and tense time as all
of our kids would begin new schools after moving from Rome to Flowery
Branch. The concern primarily arose from having left a very small tight
nit community in Rome where everyone knew everyone, and the high school
had a population of about 600. The new schools would be much larger
(high school around 1600) and the sense of community a little diluted
compared to Armuchee (pronounced Armurchee).
The day had yet to show signs of the sun's rays and the Huff house was arising with as much commotion as you might expect from 3 girls and 1 boy getting ready for school. It was finally time to wear those new shoes purchased a week ago but dad wouldn’t let them wear until the first day of school. Hair was combed, styled and properly set with the assistance of hair products…then…the annual first day of school picture.
The picture was much like any other first day of school picture. There was the usual forced smile but perhaps a little more nervousness than usual. After all, Sydney would have her birthday the next day and stated she was going to have her birthday this year and be friendless. We all know the feeling of the unknown they must have been experiencing.
As I looked at our children, and afterward looked at the picture, I felt so many things. I was proud, I was hopeful, I was a little scared but I also knew it was also out of my control. The love and compassion I had for them was overwhelming and my eyes began to well up with emotion, and salt water would soon drip down my face so I quickly turned away so as to not cause them anything else to be concerned over at this moment.
At that moment in time I wanted go before them and smooth out the rough places. I wanted to make sure their teachers knew they were special and should be treated as such. I wanted any potential bullies to know not to mess with these kids. I wanted the lunch people to know the foods my kids liked best. In short I wanted the best for my kids. I wanted to protect them in every way possible, but aside from the all obsessed helicopter parent who goes beyond reason to care for their child, I had to let them go alone like all other kids.
I began thinking…do my kids know how much I love them, do they know how I’m ready, able and willing to help them at a moment’s notice. Do they realize they are never alone…I’m but a phone call away and will do anything reasonable to help them succeed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sports, academics, band, drama, relationships...church, boyfriends, girlfriends…and yes, even a relationship with God. It became clear at that moment…I have a huge role in the lives of my kids. I am their father and my love is unconditional and never-ending towards them. They need to know this. They need to know they have more resources available to them through their father than they have by themselves.
No doubt my kids will face difficulties in school and life and at times feel all alone, but they never really will be. If they could gain the broader picture of life they would see that this moment, while important, is fleeting and passing quickly. It’s the things of God that are most impacting and have the most longevity. That is partly my job as a parent-to instill in them the confidence that my love is unconditional and their personal value is not set by the world, and to help them see beyond the moment and see things as God sees them.
In becoming and being a father I believe I have learned more about God. I can imagine God taking our picture and having similar thoughts as I did just a week or so ago. The world is full of dangers and snares but I believe he wants to say to us “…take heart! I have overcome the word” John 16:33. He is only but a phone call away. I believe he wants us to recognize the trials of life are a blip on the radar of time. He wants us to see things as he sees them. He wants us to know “oh, how inexhaustible are God’s resources and God’s wisdom and God’s Knowledge! How impossible it is to search into His decrees and trace His footsteps!” Romans 11:33 (Weymouth New Testament). He is ready and waiting with whatever we might need to survive and make it through the day.
This causes me to ponder. Do my kids realize how much I love them and want to help them? Do I realize how much God loves me and wants to help me?