I grew up outnumbered.
For most of my teenage years, I lived with my mom and my two younger sisters. Now, they really didn’t make life too rough for me. Actually, I think I had pretty good treatment from my sisters, and my mom is one of the most loving people I’ve ever known. But I was outnumbered. When it was guy activities vs. girl activities, I was the lone man on the island. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t ever remember having to participate in tea parties or watch too many chick flicks, but I never could lean on my numbers to sway family decisions in my favor. I always had to make sure the toilet seat was down, usually had to wait at the end of the line to use the bathroom, was expected to be the one to mow the lawn and take out the trash. The “guy responsibilities” fell to me and I learned a few things about living with the fairer sex.
However, looking back on it now, a lot of the lessons I learned were faulty replacements for what I should have been doing as the lone man of the house. Instead of helping my mother, encouraging her and praising her as she fought to keep our family together, I often demanded my way or took advantage of her trusting and loving nature. And when it came to my sisters, I became their chief tormentor. During the years I could have been setting an example for them and showing them real care and concern -when I should have been protecting them and looking out for them- I spent most of my time harassing them and trying to control them. When I think of my time as “the outnumbered,” I see many opportunities wasted and a young man who truly failed to be the man for three women who would have seriously appreciated it.
But God has a way of giving second chances.
This last November, when Amy and I found out that we were going to have another daughter, I found myself again faced with familiar numbers. Here I was, back at 3 to 1. About a month ago, as I was reflecting on what the future might hold as I was again the only man in a house of three women (I was especially focused on the possible difficulties of living in a house with two teenage daughters!) God really impressed upon my heart that I had been looking at the ratio the wrong way.
Instead of seeing myself outnumbered and faced with the difficulties of being the only man, I needed to start seeing the situation as a blessing and (more importantly) as a serious charge given me by God to care for and love these three women (well, one woman and two in the making!). I started to have a sense of the awesome responsibility God was giving me and the duty placed upon me as the only man in our home.
What, then, is the charge placed upon me?
What do I believe God has called me to do to care for “my girls”?
Here is the start of my list…
To you, my girls, I pledge…
…to strive to live a life that models for you what our true Bridegroom is like.
Amy, forgive me for the many times I have failed in this. My desire is to love you like our Savior has loved us, to love you sacrificially and fully. I want to care for you, provide for you, to protect you and challenge you. I will purpose to lay my life down for you on a daily basis, through my actions and my choices. I want you to feel like you are my treasured possession, that in which I find great joy and delight.
Rylie and Anna, I want you to come to understand, by my love for your mother, what God desires you to have in a husband… should you choose to marry, and Daddy is completely OK with you never marring! Seriously, I want you to know how Jesus loves us and what you both should seek as you one day begin a family of your own. I want to set the bar high so that you know a phony and a pretender when you see one.
…to strive to live a life that models for you what our true Father is like.
Amy, you already have a great example of this in your own father. I simply want to continue to follow his example of modeling our Heavenly Father and love our precious girls with the care and sacrifice and courageous compassion you have know throughout your life. I want you to delight when they are in my presence. I want you to know that they are protected, provided for, and lovingly led and taught.
Rylie and Anna, I love you. Know that above everything else. I will never stop loving you. I will take care of you and spend myself to that end. I will protect you, provide for you, and be there to guide and direct you. However, my love for you won’t always make your life easy and comfortable. Because I love you, I will have to discipline you- but, by God’s grace, it will never come from a heart of anger but only from a heart that desires what is best for you. I want you to know that you have a father with whom you can always talk, no matter what. You might not agree with my answer, but again, it will come from a heart that cares for you and desires you to know and understand the truth.
…to show you what the presence of the Spirit produces in the life of a man.
Amy, Rylie, and Anna, I want you to know that in any and all the ways I am faithful to my commitments to you, it is never because I am strong or capable or able in and of my own power to do these things. I want you to know, and I commit to make it clear very often, that any good thing that comes from me is because God the Holy Spirit is working in me. I want you to see and understand what He can do. I want you to see how He can take a man who is selfish and proud, and make him loving and patient and kind. Please know that the joy and the gentleness and the self-control you see comes from the One you don’t see. I want you all to know that God can change us and use us and that nothing is impossible for Him. So, I commit to faithfully pursue walking in His power and to diligently battling against the flesh that would destroy my leadership and our family.
…to remind you daily of our need for the Gospel.
Amy, you and I both know I will not be perfect in my commitment. So, this list will I’m sure regularly drive me to the Cross, giving me grounds to rejoice in the righteousness of Christ and to come and ask your forgiveness for my failures. My desire is that, even in the failures, you see me as a man who walks in dependence upon the cleansing forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ and is daily growing in his understanding of what it now means to be “in Christ.” I want to daily show you a man broken before the Cross and also a man who walks in the confidence of the Resurrected Life. I want to partner with you in growing to understand, love, and proclaim the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ every day.
Rylie and Anna, I promise to set regularly before you both the truth of who we are, Who are God is, and why we need salvation. I will talk frequently with you about the Cross and show you that we all (you, Mommy, and Daddy) need a Savior. I will read to you from and teach you the truths of the Scripture. I will pray daily asking God the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and give you a heart that hates your own sin and desperately sees your need for Jesus. I will purpose to surround you with others who love Jesus and understand the Gospel. And I will show you, regularly, that your Daddy needs Jesus. I promise to confess to you my sins, to ask your forgiveness, and to show you a Daddy who knows his own righteousness doesn’t measure up. My desire is to show you a man who treasures the Gospel and pray that you grow to treasure it even more than I do.
Here, my girls, is my commitment to you. God is helping me to understand the wonderful responsibility and charge He has given me in bringing all three of you into my life. May I be faithful, by His power and grace, to honor Him by caring for you.
I love you, my girls.
Happy Valentine’s Day.