Our First Man

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- Carissa Woodwyk

His eyes, his smile, his heart, his delight...it's what I notice every time I see my husband play with our kids.

He stretches his arms out, they leap.

He hovers over like a monster, they run.

He turns on the lawn mower, they jump on his lap.

He slips on his shoes to head outside, they squeal with anticipation.

He lays down beside them, they listen to his voice.

My husband...he knows how to play. I love that.

My husband...he offers provision and protection. I love that.

My husband...he teaches and cuddles and laughs. I love that.

Their daddy...he's the first man in my children's lives. I love that.

My husband and I have had numerous conversations about our dads and how they've shaped us – their words, their tones, their actions (or in-action), their jokes, their conversations, their attitude, their work, their presence. We always come to the same conclusion...the first man in our lives have deeply impacted our view of masculinity and fatherhood and how valuable the feminine soul is. And, we have also come to understand, that what we experienced in our fathers has also deeply impacted the way we have come to view God.

A father's role – it's powerful. He spills into us in subtle and profound ways.

If you dig a little ways back – to the days when you lived with your father or male caretaker, what do you remember? About him? About his heart for you? About his heart for your mom? About his heart for others? About his heart for God? Who was he? Really. I don't mean how did he live out of his brokenness and hurt, but rather, in what ways did he image God? What was he amazing at? What ways did he tell the world that being a man was a good thing? For sure there were hard parts about our relationship with our father, but who did God create him to be and how did you see and experience that in him?

And then, if you're a dad, how do you see those good things in you?

And, if you're a wife, how do you see those good things in your husband?

And, if you're a son or daughter, how do you see those good things in your dad? Still. Today.

You may just have gained more than you thought from your dad. It's amazing how so much good gets passed down. Maybe it just got hidden behind fear or work or hurt or shame or others.

Maybe we need to open our eyes a bit wider so that we can see, really see...our father, our husband, their daddy.

And then, let's shout out and affirm and celebrate what we see...in our home, with our friends, to the world.

So dads...may you know that we are rooting for you. We believe in you. The best parts of you show up in us, in our kids. We love that.

May you know that you are honorable, respectable and good.

And then, may you be even more aware of God's eyes, God's smile, God's heart, God's delight...upon you.

Carissa Woodwyk is a writer, speaker, counselor/marriage and family therapist, wife, mom, advocate for the human heart. In each of these roles, she offers her story and voice in ways that invite people to connect with themselves, with others, with God. She is a co-author of Before You Were Mine: Discovering Your Adopted Child's Lifestory. She and her husband have two children and live near Grand Rapids, MI. Be sure to read her blog, catch up with her on facebook and follow her on twitter

Image Credit: Lash-Upon-Lash