Tag Archives: Time

Generations The changing nature of fathering through many seasons

It seems like I am entering a new stage as a father. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I’m already in the middle of it.

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Today is Father’s Day, and that has me thinking of what it means to be a father.

It’s certainly not just this particular holiday that stirred these thoughts. My conversations lately have been laden with question, wondering, weighing, judging my own thoughts and actions toward my children. This has been equalled by a deeper appreciation for the two men who are fathers to me. (And maybe even the generations before me, though the perceived impact is less direct.)

To raise a person is a humbling process.

The most notable changes (to me) deal completely with personhood. Years ago, I was mostly relied upon to change diapers, feed mouths, and manage the funding to pay for daily and yearly needs. As the Small Ones grew, so did my input to their lives. Reading, teaching, listening, discussing, reprimanding, exhorting, challenging, cheering. All these things I have done, and still do.

And through each stage, I have consistently—in times of reflection—become more aware of what my father not only did for me, but also felt and experienced, too.

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Now I look at a young man—who, not coincidentally, mirrors my teenage visage—and wonder at how I am to continue to father him. Do I continue to decide for him, protect him, do for him? Yes. I think. But all the more (and he feels it, too) I feel a strong pull to release. To allow more and greater freedoms, to choose his own way—even if he is damaged, or damages in the releasing.

That goes against all I have done for a time that spans nearly seventeen years now. How can I change?

Then I look around me and see a boy of thirteen, his brother’s shadow, who longs to escape both that shadow and the close oversight of his father; and mother. Not merely to reject; nor rebel. More so to be. To be a person. Himself.

It is even becoming evident in my first daughter. She is “only” eleven, but wanting to be all of her oldest brother’s age, experience, freedoms. She can not. Time has not made her an equal with him. She will forever be chasing him. (Unless she relinquishes the chase of her own choosing.)

Beyond those Children-Becoming-People, we have three more Small Ones who laugh and play and love (and fight, and fight back) … and remind me of the familiar stage of fathering.

Through all of this, maybe especially as I am noticing the markedly different stage of relationship with my oldest children, I truly do grow in appreciation for my own father, and the father of my children’s mother. I often see the differences between each of them and myself—that’s so easy to do, no?—but in such times, I see the mirror of me. I smile at the thought that they have been here, too—and, on the whole, all is well beyond.

I am not yet old, but I’m moving toward it. I have less hair than I did before I was a father. My beard shows a few gray hairs, perhaps. But the men whom I call Dad proudly display in their faces and bodies the years of experience I hope to have. Watching their own children become and be People. Learning to navigate the new stages of relationship, as Dad.

It’s not bad. It’s more good than I probably realize. It’s not easy. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

All I hope is that my kids know—without doubt—that I will always love them, more than they can know (maybe until they have offspring of their own), and far beyond that, they are loved beyond knowing by their Creator.

If I can help them to know that, and to live in love because of that, these challenges will have all been worth whatever cost they have levied.

Then, blessing beyond blessing, the Ones God has given me to raise would know the same things I am knowing now.

If Jesus does not return, may that be so.

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Shortage of Time

Shortage of Time

I feel like a broken record sometimes.

No matter how many years (or decades) I have traveled the solar circuit… I feel like I keep learning the same lessons.

One of those is this: we have a limited time here—so make the most of it.

This is not a “rah-rah” post intended to inspire you to some unimagined greatness. But I do hope that, like me, you’ll be reminded that somethings are not worth fretting over.

Some things are.

It’s not so much that fretting, worrying, bothering, troubling ever does any good. All of that originates with fear. Fear of losing, fear of changing, fear of any bad that might come.

Not that it’s bad to concern ourselves with some things. Things like your kids who are growing up, your spouse who misses precious time with you, your parents who are aging, close friends with whom you’ve inadvertently lost contact… at least, you think it was inadvertent.

There may even be some dream, begun way back with your earliest memories, that the relentless rush of life and obligations has pushed aside.

We have a limited time. It is certain that one day—we don’t know when—our time here will be done.

So live.

Dream. Love. Enjoy. Experience. Now is the time.

What got me thinking about this again was not just our friends who are dealing with stage four cancer, nor any news of sudden, unexpected death of anyone close to me. Nor was it the frustrations of financial finagling that we are caught up in again (for what seems like now far too long).

It was more the words of my daughter, commenting more often lately that “all [you] ever do is work, Dad!” Her heart is longing to connect with mine. (And we do connect, but she wants more.)

It was even thoughts of a life that I have often thought of pursuing, but always turned aside from because of the demands and obligations of life. But I am recently reminded: truly, if you want something to happen… you must simply do it.

And then there’s our son. The first person to transform me from son to father. He’s fifteen, going on twenty-five. We butt heads now and then—a strong Campbell trait—but I admire him more than clash with him. It’s just fun to root him on in his various endeavors: all-star goalie, aspiring novelist, farmer, mechanic, among others.

Sometimes reality knocks loudly enough and I am reminded that this current season is likely ending soon.

Before we blink, our son will be moving on—his adult life is nearer than I can really understand. He’s ready now to do something—anything—with all that he is learning. Then, who knows? Wife… kids… I was only 24 when Ian was born.

But we’re not there yet.

And I’m brought back to where I started. Reminded again of things already learned. Live now, today. Don’t miss it.

Are you missing your life for want of whatever is next, or seems to be missing? Sometimes I focus on those.

This week, I have work to do, and life to balance… but I don’t want to miss my life while I’m doing those things.

Like you, I have a shortage of time. I don’t know when the end will come, but I do know that it will.

Since it has not yet come… Let’s choose to live now, as best as we are able.

The Simple Life

I have two friends who host a podcast called “Cultivate Simple“. It’s about working toward living simply, intentionally, in every area of life. They certainly are quite good at this, but I always chuckle at the title as I am also aware of the multitude of actitivies and responsibilities and events that dot their schedules. (To the point where these ‘dots’ often commingle into much larger ‘blobs’.)

Not too long ago, as I discussed our family’s schedule for the week with Jen, I saw many of my own dots chaotically infringing upon one another, and my own blobs growing unmanageable and out of my control.

And I longed for simple.

My heart nearly begs for simple. Maybe even my body. After a full day of celebrating Cameron’s birthday, I crashed on our bed—out like the proverbial light—much, much earlier than I would normally bed down for a night.

And though that longing is present and making itself known, here I am, amidst six growing-older children, a wife who loves to keep relatively full schedules, and running a couple of my own businesses, too.

Where and how do we find simple in the middle of all that life is? Is it possible to have a quiet, peaceful, serene, simple existence?

Perhaps my definition of simple is all wrong.

Simple. Simplicity.

simple |ˈsimpəl|

adjective ( -pler , -plest )
1 easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty : a simple solution | camcorders are now so simple to operate.
plain, basic, or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design; without much decoration or ornamentation : a simple white blouse | the house is furnished in a simple country style.
[ attrib. ] used to emphasize the fundamental and straightforward nature of something : the simple truth.

2 composed of a single element; not compound.
Mathematics denoting a group that has no proper normal subgroup.
Botany (of a leaf or stem) not divided or branched.
(of a lens, microscope, etc.) consisting of a single lens or component.
(in English grammar) denoting a tense formed without an auxiliary, e.g., sang as opposed to was singing.
(of interest) payable on the sum loaned only. Compare with compound 1.

3 of or characteristic of low rank or status; humble and unpretentious : a simple Buddhist monk.

4 of low or abnormally low intelligence.

Well I don’t think number four is the one I’m looking for. And I’m sure the mathematical and botanical applications are not … applicable here, either. So, am I looking for ‘low rank or status’? ‘Humble and unpretentious’? Yes. But do I live in such a way that is so other-than-that as to cause me to long for ‘simple’? Probably not.

So if I go with these definitions of ‘simple’, I think the second definition under number one might be the thing I am wanting most: “plain, basic, or uncomplicated in form, nature or design; without much decoration or ornamentation.” If you know me, you’re likely aware that I’m not much for ornamentation. I definitely lean toward “plain” and “basic”. (Ha! basic!)

But how—and why—am I lacking that? Where did this train run off the rails?

There’s a problem many of us have: saying ‘no’. Whether it’s out of fear that we might hurt another’s feelings, or whether our own reputation might be somehow sullied—we’re not great at saying, “No.”

There sure is a lot to which we can say ‘no’! There are probably dozens of physical and spiritual and relational and educational opportunities of which we could partake; and in our family, multiply that by eight! No, there is no shortage of chances to exercise our No Muscle.

But instead, we just keep saying yes.

Now, I may have an even more difficult time as I have inherited something of a defect. You see, I look at life as though it might be more conquerable than it truly is. I tend toward optimism, as I have said before. This will often—nearly 100% of the time!—causes me to misjudge the time it might take to do something, usually by at least half. It is quite likely, I believe, that such poor estimation of the duration of various tasks is a direct result of this inherited defect (from my dad) that we call “Cramming Ten Pounds into a Five Pound Bag Syndrome”.1

And boy do I have that… bad!

I don’t intentionally add things to our schedule for appearance (reputation) or for my own sense of accomplishment or anything of that sort. I think if I’ve crowded my schedule, it’s often because I either have those rose-colored, sure-I-can-fit-that-in view of my day or week ahead, OR because, I just forget that I don’t want to do that!

Thus, I frequently return to this place of longing for simple.

My podcasting friends hold solidly to the line of thinking that “simple” does not mean not busy. (Though I would say that they often long for down time, too.)

But isn’t there something to doing less?

I think much of this comes back to technology. As we increase the efficiency with which we do things (via technological advancement) we are able to do more, do it better, do it faster … and honestly, I think this makes us less. We are stretching ourselves beyond what we are designed to do. I will certainly continue this thought in a future post (it’s been ruminating for quite a while now), but to elaborate here would not be… simple.

And simple is what I’m hoping to rediscover.

We do lead a fairly simple life in some ways: we have one vehicle, we live in a relatively modest home, we are not extravagant in our spending, we are not members of many organizations, we like 80s TV shows… simple.

But I think there’s more. And if I do rediscover it in some areas, I’ll be sure to share those discoveries here.

Until then, I need to wrap this up so I can get ready for today’s three events. (Oh, and make breakfast for everyone, gather the laundry, send emails, prep dinner, pay bills, read the library book due back tomorrow, discuss several upcoming events with Jen, mow the lawn, play a word game or two, maybe play a game with Alex, brush my teeth, feed the fish, and save the world.)

Simple!

  1. This reminds me of the other verses I found when I was writing the post Messes. Right before where it says “children are a blessing from the LORD”, it says: “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” Admittedly, one thing that keeps me busy is needing to make money to feed our family. Perhaps God was gently nudging me here?