We had some complications early on in our pregnancy that caused us to get some very early ultrasounds to make sure things were okay. On one of those early ultrasounds, our doctor said not to quote her on it, but that she was pretty sure we were having a little boy.
So we took that to the bank, picked out a little boy name, and were already growing attached to a blonde-headed little munchkin running around our house. So imagine our surprise a month later, (when getting another ultrasound) when the nurse asked whether we wanted to know the sex of the baby.
We already know, we said. It’s a boy.
Kristi and I looked at each other and our eyebrows almost hit the ceiling.
I don’t quite know how to put words around this, but something weighty fell into my heart in that moment and hasn’t dislodged itself since. Not disappointment–not at all. We are no machismo, “boys rule” people. I had the privilege of seeing my little sister be born (my only sibling) when I was 12 years old, so I’ve always loved little girls.
I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but I’ll tell you what I did the day we found out–I went out and I bought a shotgun. That is not a joke, I really did that. It just felt like the right thing to do. And then several weeks later I was walking through our living room and I saw a lone, pink baby sock lying below the couch–a laundry casualty from the amazing hand-me-downs we were already receiving.
I bent down to pick up that tiny sock and the Hoover Dam could not have stopped tears from welling up in my eyes.
I think part of the weight I feel is this–because of my job, I almost on a daily basis am a witness to the piercing trail of shrapnel so many dads leave in the hearts of their little girls. I see the confusion, pain, and insecurity left (in part) by fathers who did not very much resemble their true Father.
That pink sock–it haunts me. It makes me think the terrifying thought that in 20 years Sully could sit in a pastor or counselor’s office, Kleenex in hand, at least partly due to my failures as a father. Because I know that at my core I am no better than those jack-wagons who leave a wake of destruction through their children.
I want to teach her that God is love, but I am not always loving.
I want to teach her that God is faithful, but I am too often the opposite.
I want to teach her that she is valued and precious, not in the least because of her accomplishments or her dress size, but because she is deeply and unfathomably loved. But sometimes my mind is too full of me to impart the life and truth I am designed to.
I want my eyes to light up every time she walks into the room, because I think that will teach her more than most words ever will. I want the way I treat and speak to Kristi to set the bar so high that she won’t have the time of day for so many of the boys who can shave running around our schools and workplaces.
But wanting these things and being faithful over decades are altogether different things, so I think the only way forward in this parenting thing is to fall on grace like it’s my next breath, because it is. What saves me and lifts that weight on my chest is that the same grace that allows me to have a little girl will be the same grace that allows me to raise a godly woman who stands like an oak over generations that rise up and call her blessed.
The same grace that saves, heals and restores me will, I pray, be the same grace that saves, heals and restores her. The same grace will enable me to repent in front of and apologize to her when I fail her, pointing to the One who will never fail her. Because as much as I want to be for her, I will never be that.
I pray that God willing, one day far in the future Sully will stand up at my funeral and be able to say, by no small miracle, that she knows and loves God more because of the way I loved her.
That pink sock tells me that I only have a certain number of days between today and that day, so I pray I’ll make every one of them count.