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The Importance of Being Present

Live it Up!

Live it Up pulls together content and stories about intentionally living lives that are enriched by Scripture and inspired to action. Our prayer is that we would grow to understand the purpose we’re given in God’s Word and subsequently live out our lives on purpose.
Nick Thompson is a videographer, photographer, and marketing specialist for a Chicagoland-based creative agency. A father of 2, Nick shares with us his reflections of fatherhood and how it draws him closer to the heart of our Heavenly Father.

The Importance of Being Present

I’ve always looked up to my dad. I used to think everyone looked up to theirs, too.  As I grew up I began to understand that some of my friends didn’t have their dad around. And others had a dad who was there but unavailable, uninterested, or unstable. In a lot of ways, I took my dad for granted. Perhaps I still do. My dad isn’t perfect. There are times I needed his conversation only to be met by his silence. Other times I desire his comfort only to find myself pushed further into my own discomfort. In those days, I would paint over these moments with the brush strokes of my dad’s greatest gift to me. My dad’s true power, and what I believe God blessed him with was desire to spend time with me. His presence was a gift to me.

One of my favorite memories growing up was the Saturday morning routine that my dad and I shared. My dad was a factory worker so his days started early. Saturday was the day he got to sleep in, except sleeping in was like 6:00 AM compared to his earlier weekday starts. I was a cartoon and video game-obsessed kid who reveled in the freedom of summertime. I had no plans of sleeping in on Saturdays. I was prepared for my lineup of cartoons and knew that if I was going to finish that level I hadn’t beat yet, I needed to do so before the day got too far along. Soon, my mom would be sending chores my way and my dad would be forcing me outside to get fresh air and be active. But in the midst of these goals for my day, there was the moment where I willingly put the controller down. As my dad collected his things to go on his coffee run, I would grab my shoes and join. I don’t remember if he invited me or if I decided I was going, but 9 times out of 10 I was with him. It was a simple, quick trip a few blocks away to the Dunkin Donuts. Occasionally, he’d let me get a donut, but this trip was about being together. It was our time to chat about whatever, to crack jokes at one another, to comment on the town waking up. He would order a large coffee with french vanilla creamer, extra cream, extra sugar. He’d let me taste it and I would do the thing where I complain about how bad coffee tastes. Before heading home, he would stop across the street and grab a newspaper (remember those?), and I’d sneak the sports section away and start reading box scores and headlines, asking if we could go to a White Sox game.

The Importance of Sharing Mundane Life with Your Kids

Back then, it was a simple errand. All these years later it has become a special memory. It taught me the importance of sharing mundane life with your children. It taught me that what to an adult might seem like unimportant time spent, to a child might be the very thing they are longing for. 

My sons are very different from each other. How I show up for one needs to look different at times from how I show up for the other. The challenge, however, is to allow myself to be present enough to not see time with them as a hindrance to what I might want or need to accomplish. Rather, I strive to see them as a friend and a disciple.  

Perfection Isn’t the Goal

If you are a father reading this, you don’t have to possess some special skill to pass down, know all the right theological answers, tell the funniest dad jokes, or have the largest college fund for your children. I have felt the weight of these things, and they often don’t make me a better father, just more anxious and distracted. Instead, I encourage you to follow the path of Jesus who, though he was God, was also human and let his disciples see his humanity as he shared life with them. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is John 21, when the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples and shares a meal with them on a beach. I suppose many questions would have been on the tip of the disciples’ tongues. And I’m certain Jesus would have had an answer for each of them. But for all the ways the text could be understood and applied, we know that Jesus gave the disciples his presence once more. I imagine that breakfast would stand out in the memory of the disciples for the rest of their lives. In some ways, it was a mundane event – as eating fish and bread cooked over a fire is hardly unique – and yet, in other ways it would have a deep relational significance for the disciples.This Father’s Day, consider the mundane time spent with your children and those you may mentor. It may seem insignificant to you, but that time also might lead to relational bonds and connections that could have eternal impact. And listen, perfection isn’t the goal. We are going to miss the mark. But God gives grace so we can say, I’m sorry. And he gives mercy so we can try again. And when we are weak, he gives strength so we can lean in a little while longer. Your presence is a gift. The enemy would have you shrink away in guilt or shame when you fall short. Stay present and ready to receive God’s love, that you may share it with the ones who need you most.