Today’s guest post comes from my good friend, Paul Gittemeier. I’ve known Paul for over 10 years, and he and his wife Kelly lead in the marriage ministry at Watermark Community Church. We’ve served together in our premarried and newly married ministries. Paul and Kelly said, “I do” 37 years ago, and have four kids along with a bunch of grandkids – you’ll get to hear more about them in a moment. Paul is a mentor to me, and is the type of man I hope to be like when I grow up.
A few weeks ago (Father’s Day week), Paul posted the following to his Instagram account. With his permission, I’ve copied it and shared it on my blog for you to read today. It brought tears to my eyes and encouraged me. I hope it does the same for you.
It’s Father’s Day Week. Well, that’s how I look at it – everyone else seems okay with just the day! This is my 35th one, and it struck me that sometime in the last few years, something changed. I’m still a father, and better still – a grandfather. But a door in my life has quietly closed – it’s not bad or sad – rather it’s ordained by my Heavenly Father whose very hand gently closed it.
It’s the door through which I walked to spend countless hours and days being physically present with my kids. It’s the door through which we departed for trips to far away continents, oversaw the building of extravagant forts in our backyard, watched five-year-olds walk out of to their first day of school, to sports practices and dance recitals, to college, to a wedding. It’s the door through which I first saw the reflection of a beautiful man or woman who would take my place as the most important person to them.
My “kids” are now adults, with wonderful spouses and growing families. I remind them frequently of Proverbs 17:6 – “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged.” Their ambitions have grown, and their horizons have expanded, but the luster of the time I’ve invested in their lives hasn’t faded. Even the most distant memories are still fresh and seem only a few weeks old.
It’s bittersweet in some ways – but satisfying – because I don’t have any big regrets about my role in their lives up to this very day. To be sure, I’m a dim reflection of God’s perfection – but I’ve been present, I’ve been intentional, and I’ve loved them as best I know. Not perfectly, but well enough that, when patched with necessary refinements and timely apologies, it’s worked. [Note to self: I should ask my kids how they feel about the second half of that Proverbs 17:6 verse, “the glory of children is their father.”]
I love Psalm 84:11: “The Lord God is a sun and shield, He bestows favor and honor, and no good thing does He withhold from those who love Him.” Fatherhood and husband-hood have proven to be those “good things” for me. They’ve made me a changed man – better and happier.
I’ve become more patient (kids, wives and gray hair refine that attribute in us).
I know kids are always watching and listening – and I realize that honor, compassion, generosity, and Christlikeness are learned skills.
I’ve become a better boss – from seeing the employee side of the equation through the eyes of my kids.
I’ve earned “Honorable Mention” in the dad-jokes category and a lifetime exemption in the dad-bod category.
From my front-row seat, I watched as my kids learned new things, tried new things and went new places – maybe some of that inspiration even rubbed off on me.
My wife and kids are grace-givers and allowed me to be tested, to fail, to learn and to reboot.
You can cherry-pick the previous paragraphs for the Father’s Day gifts I’ve received; none were advertised or for sale. Instead, they were earned or learned over 35 years. Here are a few others I must mention:
My kids, their spouses, and my grandkids make me pray more – no longer as a last resort, but as a priority.
They’ve taught me to respond rather than react.
They’ve made me more affectionate and less judgmental.
They make me more thankful and less critical.
More intentional, less selfish.
Perhaps best of all, they’ve caused me to love their mother more, because the finest things they are, were modeled and nurtured by her.
Another favorite scripture is Psalm 127:3-5: “Children are a heritage from the Lord. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth, blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” Kids are arrows we shoot into the future and from where I stand – I am that blessed man with the full quiver. And a blessed husband. And the blessed son of a loving, generous, and Almighty Heavenly Father.
Yep, it’s been a good Father’s Day week. Thank you, Lord. I owe all to You.
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