Relax. It’s not what you think. Shawn’s not expecting. This is a story about the names I’ve used during the last 28 years. I say names because I‘ve had several. And these aren’t names I chose for myself. They were given by two young ladies.
I started as Da-Da, a great name for a man to have. I carried two little babies around and showed them off. It was a thrill to have people peek at those little faces and comment, “Oh, how beautiful!” Good thing they took after Mama, huh? I loved the way one man said it – “You and Shawn make beautiful babies!” Moving on now …
Those little female vocabularies started to expand rapidly. It seems their minds were supersonic bionic tape recorders and anything they heard, they remembered. And then they replayed the words at the worse possible moment. Like telling the Preacher and his family, “You were late for dinner. My Daddy said.” Daddy is a special name. I have this idea that most any man can become a father but becoming Daddy takes focus and a lot of time and effort. It’s a title of honor.
Soon I was promoted to Dad. There’s a responsible name reflecting one who can fix broken bikes, mend damaged robots, build forts, read stories, wrestle, play monster and do just about anything else those girls needed or wanted to do. At that stage of life I was at the pinnacle of wisdom and knowledge, at least in the eyes of my daughters. They thought I knew everything and it felt good to be the oracle.
One day the hormone level in our home surged. My title changed and not for the better. I was now Butt Dad and let me tell you that is not a super hero moniker. The name was used at the end of many conversations. I was the same sage and philosopher from the previous era of life though suddenly my wise pronouncements were greeted with eye rolls, deep sighs, and “But, Dad!” It went like this – “I don’t care what your friends are doing. You’re not renting a hotel room for an all-night party after the dance. I will pick you up at 10. Your friends can come here if they like.” And the response was immediate, “But, Dad!” Well, I wore that title with some degree of pride, too. Protection is part of my responsibility.
The daughters flew through the teen years and I discovered my next title by accident. I happened to glance at a chat window left displayed on the family computer. I was now “Parental Unit”. Parental units come in 2 flavors – male and female – and when both are being referenced, the title is shortened to “Rents”. I’m thankful God gave me a garage, a little garden, and a compost pile to shovel. I think solitary moments in those places kept me sane. Maybe I should start a help group so I can hug other Moms and Dads when they look down at their name tag and see “Parental Unit” for the first time.
The next major life event was college. We packed belongings and moved our most cherished possessions out of the home environment into dormitories. Suddenly I attracted another title, first awarded to me by the Business Office at North Carolina State University and later continued by Campbell University. I was now “Bill Payer”. It seemed to me my titles were growing less human and my role was being phased out. Was this an early form of outsourcing?
College ended after 8 years of being addressed as Bill Payer and wonder of wonder, I became Dad again. My daughters were amazed at how much I progressed while they were away earning degrees. My knowledge base expanded and I had wisdom ready for dispensing. I was the “go-to guy “again and was even called Daddy.
The Gospel of Mark records words of Jesus in the garden just before the crucifixion. He faced a tough assignment and talking to God the Father, Jesus used a special word. “Abba! Father!” That term reflects love and endearment like our words Daddy and Papa. It shows a special relationship only the Child can have with that Father.
In Romans 8:15 Paul explained we became God’s children through adoption and have the right to use God’s special name, too. I can address God as “Abba! Father!” I think about my little ones running to me calling “Daddy! Daddy!” My arms were open and my ears were ready to capture their words. My resources were at their disposal and the only desire in my heart at that moment was to do what was best for them. And the Creator of the universe wants that kind of relationship with me! Amazing!