On Being a Dad:
The day was December 8, 1996. This day changed my life forever. I was bought to tears, overwhelmed with love the first time I laid eyes on my baby girl. I knew then I was in trouble. Over the next couple of years. as I watched her grow into a toddler then into school age, I had several thoughts that continually guided my actions.
John Eldredge and his wife, Stasi, reveal in their book, Captivating, that a girl learns what it means to be a woman from her mother, but from her father comes an understanding of the value that a woman has, the value she possesses even now, as a girl. She will learn mercy and tenderness from Mom, but some big questions, like “Am I lovely?” and “Am I captivating?” can only be answered by her father. We dads hold a very powerful place in the young hearts of our girls, and they will forever look to us to answer those questions.
Fifteen years ago, I decided that Alli would never question whether she was lovely or captivating. I decided that I would make her a priority in my life. When she started kindergarten, I decided that once a week, I would take her to breakfast for school. It was a Daddy-daughter date—just the two of us talking about life. I cherish these moments so much. I remember her deconstructing her breakfast sandwich and laying it out like a smiley face. I remember helping her study for tests, or her helping me prepare for a Sunday school lesson. I remember holding her hand as we crossed parking lots. These memories will last forever.
When my son Chase came along 5 years later, I added him to the fold. There are days where Chase just wants shoulder to shoulder time, not a lot of words. Little boys are very different than little girls. There are days where we have awkward conversations. We always laugh about them later. I just want to make sure that he knows I’m here for him and that when he asks questions, it may be awkward, but I’m always willing to talk.
Alli is almost 19 years old now. She is a freshman in college. She still wants to get together for a coffee and chat. Chase is almost 14 years old. He’s is entering into some pivotal years where his beliefs and thought patterns will be crafted. Sometimes words are few and far between, sometimes conversations are awkward, and sometimes we just laugh at nonsense. I love these kids.
In the book of Luke it says, “you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and your entire mind.” And, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I use this passage often, to show how important relationships are to Jesus. There was nothing more important. First, love God. Then, love people. I want Alli and Chase to know how important our relationship is to me. I want Alli to accept nothing less when she chooses a man to spend her life with, and I want Chase to know how a man of God should act. I wish I could tell you that was my sole motive behind these dates with my kids, but to be honest, there is a lot of selfishness involved. I love my babies and I would have missed out on so much if I didn’t have this time with them.
Chuck Butler and his wife, Heather, are regular contributors to the Soul Care Collective.