by Daron Short, senior graphic designer/photographer at the C&MA National Office
Admittedly, I am still a new-ish father. I mean, I have only 2.5 years of experience under my belt. Maybe I have this whole Father’s Day thing all wrong.
Come to think of it, based on the number of gifts I usually return, I’m confident I’m a better gift-giver than receiver. My wife, on the other hand, is not so good at gift giving and would tell you as much. She mentioned recently that it all works out in the end though, because as much as I enjoy giving gifts to her, I’m equally good at giving gifts to myself.
I’m sure I’m already in the hole for my Father’s Day gift. It was either those new bike shorts I purchased recently or that ultralight rain jacket that was on sale last fall.
Since I’ve already “received” my Father’s Day gift, my thoughts have turned to giving a gift in return, a gift to my boys. After all, they are the ones who make me a father. Shouldn’t Father’s Day, in some way, be about them?
How about an experience? No, not one they’d likely forget within 30 minutes. I’m talking about a life-long experience, a commitment. A commitment to the vows I made to love my wife, their mother, as Christ loves His Bride. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. On the mountaintops, but especially in the valleys.
Deep and Dark
Rachael and I have had our share of mountaintop experiences. Literally. Since escaping the Midwest mosquitos and landing in Colorado, we have together summited 16 mountains higher than 14,000 feet. We’ve also trudged through some valleys; however, none of them compare to the one we are currently traversing, the deepest and darkest yet.
In the fall of 2015, after undergoing an extensive surgery, Rachael was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that originated in her abdomen. Stage 4. Incurable. Oh, and she was 12 weeks pregnant with our second son at the time. Valley? This was more like a canyon we’d been trapped in during a storm, and the water was rising.
Sparing a lot of details and experiences with modern and alternative medicine in the last six months that included the aforementioned surgery, multiple magnetic scans, potentially harmful medications, persistent pokes, a massive diet change, and yes, even the cancer that threatened to overtake our son in the womb, he was born on June 2.
Listen, all babies are miracles. But this new baby represents an overwhelming gift from the greatest of gift givers, our Heavenly Father. We’ve been given not only the gift of our new baby boy but also the gift of health for my wife, despite the cancer diagnosis.
To Love and Honor
As you can imagine, circumstances like this force a perspective shift. It’s tempting to put kids first, especially when they’re young. We’ve found it’s nearly impossible to make time for just the two of us. Gone are the spontaneous weekend trips to take aim at another summit. Even a date night to the mini-golf course is hard to come by these days.
However, at hand is the ever-present opportunity to give the greatest gift I can to my boys: a never-ending commitment to love and honor my wife, their mother, in sickness and in health, in a way that reflects Christ’s love for His Bride.
If my kids make me a father, my wife has allowed me to become one. My commitment was to her long before anyone else came into the picture, and that commitment is a never-ending gift to my boys. (I’ll be sure to remind them of that when they want a new pair of sneakers as teenagers!)
I pray it will show them what humility, loyalty, and faithfulness look like. I pray it will aid them in their relationships with their future spouses. Most importantly, I pray the devotion I display to my wife will represent the love Christ has for His followers and that they will one day accept the greatest gift a Father could give.
Lord, thank You for Your example of fatherhood. Thank You for Your good, good gifts. May we, as fathers, give those gifts in return to our families this Father’s Day and every day.
Editor’s note: Read more about the Shorts’ journey through this cancer diagnosis on their blog: www.daronandrachaelshort.blogspot.com.