father and child

With the baby coming in about three months now, I've found myself a little nervous about questions of identity. Needing to clarify who I am, what's important to me, what my life's about.

Part of it, I'm sure, is that having a child will be a big change in our life, and I'm sure I'll be letting go of some things I've gotten used to. I just want to make sure I don't inadvertently let go of what's most important to me. Another part of it, I think, is that becoming a "father" seems like a big identity change, or it feels like it's supposed to be. With that, there's the thought of how the kid will see me, and also what example and values do I hope to offer to my son. Those all seem like identity questions.

Struggling with these questions a few days has brought me back again and again to thoughts about being the anawim. The poor, weak ones who trust God to be their help. That's been central to my identity as a follower of Jesus. I see that as the identity Jesus himself took. There seems to be a tension, though, between that identity and traditional image (in any culture) of what a "father" is. A father provides and protects. A father is strong. A father is who the poor, weak ones look to for help. But that's not a role reversal that I want to undergo. Jesus' words come to mind: "Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven... and you are all brothers and sisters." (Mt 23.8-9)

But while there does seem to be a tension between the usual image of fatherhood and the identity of the anawim, I don't see a big conflict in the actual care of and relationship with a child. I foresee many occasions in parenting that will lead me to a place of need and helplessness, where I'll be crying out to God. And a child is the very image Jesus gave for those who would enter his kingdom. The image of the meek and lowly anawim. Those I have wanted to both care for and be like.

All this points to being a father who is not a hero, or a god, for my child. But discovering together what it is to become children who utterly trust their loving Father.