The Poop Rocket and Other Tales of a Rookie Dad
As soon as I saw the trooper, I knew he was going to pull me over. Sure enough, he turned on his lights, and I pulled to the side of the road. I waved my arm frantically out of the window so he would hurry. As soon as he stepped out of the car, I yelled out that my wife was in labor. He calmly walked to the window and told me I was going 92 in a 55. I said, “Was that it? I actually slowed down a little when I saw you.” He didn’t like that.
You see, while I was driving, I was also timing my wife’s contractions. They were 3 ½ minutes apart. I don’t know much, but from what I had read, that meant it was go time. So I went. And I went really fast. According to the officer, that was too fast. He actually encouraged me to slow down and go about 10 over the speed limit. I thought most people did 10 over on a normal day. So honestly, I didn’t slow down. But we did get there safely. (I told my wife after the fact that I actually drove way better than I normally do because I was pretending to be a Nascar driver. She was not comforted by this.)
In my mind, I had one job. Get my wife to the hospital as fast as possible so she could safely deliver our daughter. That was my priority and nothing else really mattered. I would have ran through a wall to make that happen. I didn’t realize it then, but something changed on that drive. A switch was flipped in my brain that I don’t think will ever be turned off again. I became a dad.
Technically I had been a dad for 9 months. I went to most of the doctor’s appointments, saw the ultrasounds, and painted a nursery. But I hadn’t really gone full dad-mode yet. That was until that fateful drive to the hospital.
Now six months later, I view that night as a microcosm of what it’s been like being a rookie dad. I have this drive inside of me to do whatever it takes to protect, provide for, and lead my family. I don’t always know what that looks like. But I know I’ve got a job, and I’ll drive 92mph to make it happen.
This feeling is not unique to me. I’m sure every dad feels it deep down. I believe it’s a God-given desire that is placed in every man, waiting to be tapped into when the time comes. Biblically, men have a responsibility to lead. For those that are called to be husbands and fathers, that leadership is most important in the home.
Because of this calling and drive inside of me, I now see life through a new lens, a dad-lens. I’m more worried about exercising and watching my diet. (Still not worried enough though…) Things in the news, like a potential war with North Korea, make me a little more nervous. A good night’s sleep has a totally new meaning.
But the biggest thing I see differently through this dad-lens is God. I understand my relationship with him in a whole new way.
In the Bible, God calls himself a father. That was the title Jesus used when he spoke about God and to God. Christians are often referred to as God’s children. That means the relationship I have with my daughter is a reflection of the relationship God has with me.
So what does it mean for God to be our Father? Here’s three quick thoughts.
1. We depend on God.
As a father, my 6-month-old daughter is totally dependent on me and my wife. We have to feed her, clean her, and change her. All she contributes to the equation is tears and poop. So it’s our job to care for her, whatever may come.
The first week we brought her home, she woke up in the middle of the night screaming. So my wife and I got up together, going through the steps of feeding, burping, and changing. But as we took her diaper off, we were not prepared for what happened next. It turns out she was waiting for that moment of freedom. Like an army executing an ambush, her bowels exploded into action. There was so much force behind what came out that she hit the closet door, about five feet away. I didn’t know if I should be horrified or proud. This incident will forever be known as “The Poop Rocket”.
We like to convince ourselves that we are independent people. But here’s the reality: we are absolutely and totally dependent on God for everything, just like my daughter is dependent on me and my wife. He gives us food (Psalm 104:15). He gives us money/work (Psalm 50:10-11). He gives us life. In fact, the Bible says that God holds our very breath in his hand (Job 12:10). God isn’t some distant, far-away deity watching life unfold in his big rocking chair. God is like a father, actively giving us what we need, caring for us with his own hands. Without him, we cease to exist.
2. Like a father, God cares for us.
As a dad, I’ve learned there are different kinds of cries. There’s a sad cry, a hungry cry, a tired cry, and a just plain angry cry. The kind of cry that says, “If I was big enough to choke you out, you’d be toast right now.” There are some things we do for our daughter that make her mad. Things like changing her clothes, giving her medicine, clipping her toenails. She doesn’t understand that we do these things for her own good. She thinks we are trying to torture her for the fun of it.
We look in her crying eyes and try to reason. “Baby, you need this. This is for your good. I know you don’t understand, but it’s gonna be ok. I know this medicine tastes horrible, but it’s gonna make you feel better. We are trying to help.”
I believe our heavenly Father says the same things to us. We get upset and angry about things he allows in our lives. From small inconveniences to painful struggles, there are some things we see as terrible, but God sees as good. We throw a fit, and God is saying to us, “You need this. This is for your good. I know you don’t understand, but it’s gonna be ok. Just trust me.”
God cares for us. But just like a child doesn’t always understand a parent’s decisions, we don’t always understand God’s. “But Mom, why can’t I ride my bike in the road? Why can’t I drink this Mountain Dew before bedtime?” “God, why didn’t I get the job? Don’t you know how bad I wanted that? Why did he have to die? Don’t you care?”
We don’t always know the answers. But we know our Father cares and is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
3. Like a father, God loves us unconditionally.
Right now, my daughter is pretty easy to love. She’s adorable. She laughs at all my stupid voices. She can’t talk back to me.
But one day, she will learn a new favorite word, “No.” She will disobey and feel no remorse. She will become a teenager with a bad attitude. She will disappoint me. But I will still love her. Not because I’m some kind of awesome person, but because that’s what dads do.
My love for her is not based on her successes, failures, or mistakes. It’s not based on her loving me back. It’s not based on what she brings to the family. It’s not based on anything she says or does. It’s based on the fact that she’s my daughter. She will always be my daughter, and I will always love her. That’s unconditional love.
1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” As children of the Father, we have God’s unconditional love. No matter how bad we blow it, no matter how far we wander off, he still loves us. It’s not because of anything we’ve done or bring to the table, but it’s simply because he’s our Father and we’re his children.
As a dad, I am learning so much. (Seriously you should see my Google search entries. I’m not sure how they raised children before the internet.) But my goal is not to be a perfect father. My goal is to show my daughter that she already has one. We all do. And you’ve given him your fair share of poop rockets too. But don’t worry, he can handle it. Because your Father is not a rookie Dad.