To be perfectly honest, I never thought much about it, Fatherhood, that is. As a young and idiotic adult, convinced beyond arrogance of my self-worth and pricelessness to the world, being a father just didn't cross my mind.
I was a pagan and a hedonist, for the most part, rejecting the values and morals instilled in me by my own parents, and jaded by life experience that found me in unexpected and bad places, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I did not consider children important. I came into adulthood during the inauguration of the Age of Legal Abortion, and bought the “liberated propaganda” that embryos were amorphous clumps of cells, barely different from a lesion or tumor – a reproductive parasite that, until birth, was hardly human, and certainly not worth much of my time or effort.
That all changed when I witnessed the birth of my first child. I was still a selfish pagan, but something about that experience filled me with wonder and tears, and emptied me of speech.
There she was, this person who I had thought of hardly at all, and when I did, it was in the biologically ruthless terms of the pro-abortion movement.
Then, just as I was coming to terms with the thought that I had been utterly wrong about so many things, she stopped breathing.
There are not sufficient words to describe what that brief episode of apnea did to my heart and mind, but what was left in its aftermath was a kind of terror I had never before known. I felt simultaneously sucker-punched and cheated by the depth of my reaction, and the thought of this person who had just come into my life leaving it in such a surprising and mundane manner filled me with horror.
She quickly recovered with expert care and no damage at all, at least to her, but I was scarred forever. And more than a little resentful of the impact... to me.
Fourteen months later, for a variety of reasons that I could not have anticipated nor guarded against, I became a Christian. It was all God working in my life and preparing me for the most rewarding, solemn and sacred responsibility that can be conceived of for a man: being a father.
A father to daughters, all immeasurable gifts beyond price, changing me for the good forever.
For me, to be a father is to come face to face with all my own weaknesses, inadequacies, and fears. It is like looking into a fiery furnace of potential loss and knowing beyond doubt that this fire has been irrevocably lit with no prospect of being quenched. It is seeing an impossible job stretching out before me with no hope of doing it well, or right in my own strength, and knowing that what's at stake are the lives and well-being of something unbelievably precious: my own children.
It is also the source of my greatest joy and blessing, aside from God Himself. It is the fulfillment of an ancient, soul-deep purpose that transcends time.
It is humbling and humiliating, joyous and surprising, poignant and inexplicably rewarding. It is the thing that gives meaning and substance to what I am above and before everything else I might be.
I would not trade one moment of fatherhood for all the planets in the solar system. Not one drop of the potential ocean of tears, nor one ounce of the sometimes unbearable weight of responsibility, that has altered who I am and am still becoming as life moves me into my later years.
When I stand before my Lord and Savior on that Day, and am asked by Him which, of the many good gifts He has given me, I cherish the most, my answer will be this:
I am Dad to my precious daughters. Always and forever. For me, nothing else in this life compares.