An Unworried Father

Jeremy Stephens, Behavior Specialist on staff at Atlanta Mission’s My Sister’s House, reflects on life as a father and on his role with the children who live at our shelters each day:

I have a 22-month-old daughter at home. A living, breathing, running, screaming, whining, laughing, giggling, crying, tiny person that simultaneously terrifies me as a parent and makes me fall in love on a daily basis.
Since her entrance into my and my wife’s lives, our daughter has singlehandedly taught us not only how to expand and amplify our ability to love, but also how to more fully and genuinely understand the immense love God has for us as His son and daughter. It was not until I felt that ting of panic when she first roamed a little too close to the stairs or that debilitating joy when she looked at me and said, “Daddy,” that I felt like I could really begin to define what it is like to be God’s child.

Our daughter sees things differently. You can sometimes convince yourself that you are hearing gears turn as she looks at something and tries to name it, or when you ask her what color something is. She is learning how our world works, and we are trying desperately to make sure she experiences all the best parts of it.

This is the part of the story where I am daily convicted to strive to be more and to do more.

See, at home, I have my own daughter to worry about, hardheadedly, until I return to the place of trusting God to watch over her.

At My Sister’s House, there are lots of other people’s sons and daughters to worry about.

They see things differently too. They are learning about a very different world. Some of them have learned about a world where the experience includes not knowing what, if anything, will be on their dinner plate. Some of them have learned about a world where the last thing they see when their eyes close is an underpass.

And their mothers are trying desperately to make sure they experience all the best parts as well. It’s just that sometimes, in some situations and circumstances, the best parts are a little harder to find.

In both cases, worry does nothing. In both cases, we have to return to the place of trusting God to watch over each of them and each of us.

As a father, I get attached easily to these children…sometimes feeling a sense of being something of a daddy figure for them as well.

But hope comes in the knowledge that, while I may feel a sense of this with these children…

…God is actually, really, their Father.

Not only has He entrusted us with walking beside these families as they pursue the best parts of our world, as they try so passionately to escape such trying and gut-wrenching trials with their integrity and faith stronger for it…

…He has equipped us to be able to help.

We can’t expect anyone to choose our help if we aren’t confident that God will give us what we need to help them.

Worry can’t be in the conversation. Not for my child, and not for theirs.

And so, at home, I will continue to strive to trust God in every challenge, every fear, every difficulty, every trial.

And, here at Atlanta Mission…I know I need to do exactly the same thing. Because He’s our Papa, and He has such beautiful things planned for His kids.

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