One my favorite parts of life is being a father. Don’t get me wrong, fatherhood is also quite the rollercoaster. I thought adulthood itself brought all of the undesirable responsibilities I could handle, but then I ended up in charge of THREE ENTIRE HUMAN BEINGS! It’s dope, though. I’ve watched them grow from tiny little water sacks (the most accurate description of a newborn there is, and I don’t care what you have to say about it) into animated people with different personalities. I find myself fascinated on a daily basis. I laugh at my wife when she gets frustrated at our kids exhibiting behaviors they CLEARLY picked up from her. I text my mom to apologize for the kid I was when I have to dig deep down to refrain from cursing my kids out for things they definitely got from me.

But mostly, I just enjoy looking at them. There are these awesome moments when they’re not destroying the house we just cleaned (or the inside of the car I’m still paying for) and I can stop and think about how awesome it is that I get to be their dad. My wife and I get to raise little us’s (Is that the plural of “us”? Let’s pretend it is). And luckily, my wife is beautiful – so my kids are easy on the eyes.

The more time I spend reflecting on the joys and pains of being a father, the more (I think) I’m able to understand how God feels about us. It makes the whole “Heavenly Father” relationship hit home a little harder.

I have three children. My love for each of them is the same, and it is unconditional. However, my relationship with each of them is different. My eldest (The Big One) is considerably older than her siblings. She’s a teenager now. I’m still in the middle of figuring out how to parent a teenager, but I’ve at least figured out that I can’t do it the same way I did it when she was her siblings’ age. My son (The Boy One) is the goody-two-shoes of the family. It sounds like a good problem to have, but he’s also pretty cocky about it and a self-professed snitch. Then there’s the baby (The Tiny One). She is God’s reminder to me that my parents once had to have a supernatural amount of patience with me.

There are very few things I wouldn’t do for my kids. Don’t be mistaken – there is absolutely a list of things I won’t do for my kids, but what’s on there isn’t for everybody to know. But there’s a whole lot more that I WOULD do for them. Truth is I do more for them than they realize. A lot of things I do for them, they take for granted. That’s not a complaint. That’s my job. I’m a Daddy.

I confess: I spend a lot of time struggling with the relationship between God and people like you and me. Is it paternalistic? He is the Heavenly Father, after all. Are we friends? Ain’t there some songs about us having a friend in Jesus? It’s all so confusing to me, because I spent so much time as a child hearing from my parents about how it wasn’t their job to be my friends. Beyond that, I’m a grown man, and when I make a list of things I need – a father ain’t necessarily one of them. I don’t know what my kids wish, hope, and pray for. I’d wager it’s probably not a father, though. They already have one. Regardless of how they feel about me on any given day, I’ll still be their father, and I’ll always love them.

I’m looking forward to a day when all of my kids have grown to a point in maturity when we can enjoy a different relationship. I get excited thinking about a time when they can appreciate all of the tough lessons I’ve had to teach and we can celebrate the finished product together. I step back to think about the frustrating things I go through with my kids, and imagine who they may grow to be if I stick with the process. It’s in these moments where things start clicking for me.

So now, when Adam and Eve broke the one rule God gave em, and he had to set ’em right? I can relate. Sometimes my kids be trippin. Though I don’t like being a disciplinarian, if I let some of their misdeeds go unaddressed and unpunished – they’ll get the wrong idea about how this relationship works. EXAMPLE: do you have any idea how much I hate hate HATE coming into my bedroom, the ONE room in the house that my wife and I claim as our exclusive domain, and finding my kids’ toys laying around in there? It seems like a small infraction, but I PAY BILLS HERE! They have their own rooms. They have allllll the rest of the house to junk up. WHY ARE YOU DEPOSITING YOUR TOYS IN MY BEDROOM?! Forget all that, y’all can stay out now. So, you know what, God? I get it. Get them jokers out the garden.

And when The Tiny One cries out at bedtime that she’s scared, even though there’s a night-light, and a lava lamp, and a whole other person sharing the room with her? I can better understand those times I felt like God wasn’t answering my prayers. Because it’s not even dark, so I ignore her. And sometimes God has to remain silent to remind me that He’s already given me everything I need to make it through the darkest hour.

And when The Boy One interrupts me affirming another one of my kids for a praiseworthy accomplishment just to let me know he’s already accomplished said feat plenty of times? I’m reminded of how annoying my self-righteousness can seem in God’s eyes. I’m confronted with the reality of how me doing the right thing doesn’t preclude me from being wrong when God is dealing with other people still trying to work on doing the right things.

And when The Big One, in all of her teenaged wisdom, decides that she knows better than Mommy and Daddy? And that she’s done with our power trip and she decides to roll her eyes at her mother and storm off to the room her parents provided for her? I’m reminded of all of the times I thought God didn’t make sense and that I had better answers. Then I think of how God sent Jesus to model and explain things we struggled to understand, and it makes me want to be a different type of father. So after my wife and I have confronted The Big One with how she stepped out of line and she gets mad and it turns into a WorldStar video, I find myself stepping down from my rightful position of authority in this house to meet her in her room – the place she recognizes as her own. I explain to her why Mommy and Daddy got frustrated. I explain to her that even though it’s hard to understand sometimes, we still love her. I reinforce that nothing will change that. I tell her that our only goal is to make her the best version of herself that she can be. I hold her in my arms and kiss her gently on the forehead.

And then I thank God that he’s a better Father than I am.