Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Father's Day

I was visiting Doylestown UM Church recently and Pastor Mike told me that there had been a request by a father in the congregation to have a baby changing table in the men's restroom.  I was happy to hear that. Diaper changing can be done by both mothers and fathers.  
I was flying to St. Louis earlier this week as a dad and his little girl sat behind me.  For the entire two-hour flight this father entertained his child in loving ways, telling stories and playing games. He was immersed in his relationship with this lively daughter. 

Fathers are doing many practical acts of parenting in these present times.  I remember my own father was from a generation that did not change diapers, nor was he present in the labor room. Times were different then, but my dad did some great parenting in other ways.  His wisdom was a precious gift.

I remember there was a stream behind our house, and my sister and I spent hours trying to dam up the stream with piles of bricks and logs.  Somehow we thought we could stop the flow of water by our own efforts, but time and again the water would eventually pour over top of our finely crafted barricades and continue to flow downstream.  
My father took note of this and decided to teach us a lesson.  Instead of a barricade he built us a bridge.  It was a passageway over top of the stream.  The stream could keep doing its thing, and we could come and go on either bank using dad's bridge.

That was a lesson in life for me about managing fast-moving water, and later about managing conflicts.  Sometimes barricades do not work.  Sometimes they're not supposed to.  Dad's wisdom, taught with wood and nails, was this:  It is often better to build a bridge to cross over to the other side or even to meet in the middle, than to erect a barricade and try to stop a moving force of nature.  
This is a good option when conflict and confrontations prove to be fruitless.  Building bridges of understanding is the high road; a road I saw my dad take many times in his life.  He modeled bridge-building in many of his interpersonal relationships.  Romans 12:18 reminds us: "As far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."

Happy Father's Day to all our fathers and father-figures!  Be nurturing, be wise, be role models for your children, for all children.  Build bridges for them, or with them.  And the lessons you teach by your good example could live on for a lifetime--indeed, for generations.

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