I know what you’re thinking. You’re looking at my photo and thinking ‘you’re too young to be a father’. In many ways you are of course right, except for the fact that on 14th April this year Amelia Joy Price was born, inheriting the dubious privilege of being my daughter.
Nothing can really prepare you for parenthood, I’d visualised the moment where my little bundle of Joy was presented to me many times before, but it wasn’t as I imagined.
Over the last few weeks I’ve experienced lots of different feelings, not least tiredness, but something I didn’t expect was the new perspective it would give me on my relationship with my heavenly father.
My personal theological wrestling’s often stem from my desire to ‘make God proud’. I know that Gods love and mercy is a gift. I know that it cannot be earned, but I have the need to feel that I have done something that God can be proud of. Deep down I have always struggled to understand how God can love me simply because I’m me.
Since Amelia’s arrival, however I have come to understand how a father can love his child without her having to earn it. Amelia hasn’t had that long on this earth so far to discover a cure for cancer, play international rugby for Wales or be Doctor Who’s travelling companion, but that hasn’t changed my affection for her. In fact she has done very little except sleep, throw up, wet herself and cry, yet I still find myself loving her more each day. She hasn’t done anything to earn my love, and yet after five minutes holding her and looking at her my heart is swelling with paternal pride.
If asked to explain why I love her, I’m not sure I could come up with a reason. I’d probably mumble for a little bit and then say something like ‘she’s got my feet!’ (I don’t know why, but everyone laughs when I say she has my feet). I get a real kick out of those feet (pun intended) as they are a sign that she is my daughter.
I hope that when she is older she will know that I love her and am proud of her, however I would be very surprised if she would list her feet as one of the things about her that makes me proud.
Now I have this understanding of fatherhood from the perspective of a father I can more fully appreciate that I don’t need to ‘do’ anything to earn Gods approval. We’re told in Genesis that man was created in God’s image and that we pleased him. I don’t need to earn Gods approval through what I do, he gives it freely through what I am. I am his son made in his image.
Amy Grant summed this up beautifully in her 1979 song ‘My Fathers eyes’:
I may not be every mother’s dream for her little girl
And my face may not grace the mind of everyone in the world
But that’s all right as long as I can have one wish I pray
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say
She’s got her Father’s eyes, her Father’s eyes
Eyes that find the good in things
I want to leave you with that thought or perhaps, if you’re like me the line should read ‘He’s got his Father’s feet’