The Unexpected Joys of Fatherhood

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Being a dad comes with a lot of surprises and we wanted to share some thoughts and stories from a few Seacoast dads about the unexpected joys of fatherhood.

What Love Is

Teddy Winter, Asheville Campus

I was the new father who wanted to know everything. I read books and articles from all kinds of authors in hopes of being ready to raise our son the best way possible. I remember a distinct shift when I first laid my eyes on him. Something changed, something the books hadn’t prepared me for. I began to feel a love I had never felt before.

With that shift, I began to struggle with the way that God loves me. You see, there was no way I’d give up my son for another person. But God, being rich in mercy, decided that you and I were worth the life of his son. I am constantly running away from God, yet he loves me unconditionally. When I became a dad, I was struck anew by God’s love. His loving kindness draws me back to his heart. He knew all the ways I would fail yet he decided that I was worth his son’s life

“But God, being rich in mercy, decided that you and I were worth the life of his son.”

My son is now about to begin High School. There’s going to be conflict from time to time and we aren’t always going to see eye to eye. But I’m learning that the best thing I can do for my son is to look at the finished work of God’s son. To love him the way God loves me, even if I don’t always understand it.

Limitless Capacity

Daniel Sadr, Conway Campus

I was most surprised about my immediate love for my daughter when she was born. I knew I would give up anything for this little 6-pound bundle of joy. I did not think I could ever love another child as much as I love my daughter, I honestly did not believe I had the capacity. Then my little boy Xander was born. And you know what? I love him just as much. In truth I am still surprised at what I am willing to give for my children. I consider myself a selfish person, but when it comes to my children there is nothing I would not gladly give up.

They are a reflection of me, as we as humans are reflections of God. As they grow and reflect certain characteristics of mine I feel pride and joy. I am sure that is how God feels about us when our actions reflect his character. He loves to see his children grow as well. And like any good father, there is nothing he would not give up for us.

Surprised by Grace

Matt Benton, Columbia Campus

To say I’ve been surprised by grace as a dad is an understatement. Let me explain what I mean. I’m not talking about the grace that gets me through each day, or the grace that allowed my wife and I to have children, although that grace is abundantly clear.

The grace I speak of is the grace God extends to me in my failure. I sometimes find myself coming down hard on my kids, especially my 8-year-old. I find myself saying, “you’re too old to be doing that” or “how many times do I have to tell you…” What I realize is that no matter how badly I mess up, God never utters such words to me. He keeps no record of my wrongs, and he holds nothing over my head. He knows everything about me and continues to love me the same every day. As Scripture says, his mercies are new to me every morning (Lam. 3:22-23).

God has used my failures to extend grace to teach me about HIS grace. Although I am so far from perfect, he is molding me into a better man, a better husband, a better pastor, and by his grace, a better father.

Multiplied Love

Ross White, Greenville Campus

“Wow, if I had only known it was going to be like this!” I’ve used that sentence many times as an unknown future rolled into my present reality. But it’s because we don’t know the future that we are invited to trust a God who loves us through it all.

There is certainly a lot about parenting that I didn’t know at the outset. Mostly, I didn’t understand how deeply I would grow to love the three precious girls that God gave us. I understood in my head that I would love them, but the experience of growing in love for them was so much more than the expectation. Although they are different in personality and gifting, each one has ALL my affection. My love for each daughter is complete and total. How is that possible? I don’t know, yet it’s true.  My love is not divided among them but is multiplied to fully embrace each of them.

Love is a mystery, but my love for my girls helps me understand God’s love for me a little more. My love for my daughters and my wife is endless, much like God’s love as described by Paul in Ephesians 3:16-18.  The depth of love I have for my daughters has been my greatest surprise as a dad, and one I am most grateful for.