As time goes by, I am starting to see Mark as a man who seeks the best for his family rather than a young dad who struggles turning back from his past life but made it. That was him, but he really has grown now.
“I am not ready. We are not ready”, that’s Mark’s reason for being halfhearted about being a dad. Well, that lasted for about 12 hours. Hehe. Moments later, he decided to go all in in this journey.
The truth is, age is not the only factor for becoming a good dad. Readiness is. There are young dads who do bad and young dads who do well. There are middle-aged dads who do bad and middle-aged dads who do well. Age is a very important factor but it must always be partnered with readiness.
It was very common for Mark to be told, “It’s okay”. When he says he is already married and has a daughter, people say, “it’s okay”. What they don’t know is that it’s not okay; it’s amazing! Sometimes, others tend to think that marriage and being a dad is losing self and losing freedom. Uhm, nope! When you embrace the calling, you find your true self, gain true freedom, and experience true love.
“I don’t want lose myself in the process of building a family”
“I need my ‘me time’ all the time. When I am free, maybe we could spend time as a family”
“I have my own life too, you know?”
“I am young and I should be free”
Mark focused on,
“I want to build myself and grow as our family grows. I want to be the husband and dad that you girls will need”
“I need time with you girls. I’ll always make time for you girls. Once in a while, I’ll have my me time. I know that matters. But not as much as time with you girls”
“You girls are my life”
“I am young. It’s the perfect season to learn. True freedom is getting to explore life with you”
It’s hard for anyone to be ready when we think the life we have now cannot be any better, when we think living for others is a bad thing. Self-love shouldn’t lead to self-entitlement. It’s when we become open to growth, changes, and learning that we experience true freedom.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE READY
Mark knew he wasn’t ready. He was 19 and haven’t even figured out life himself. But he wasn’t ready to settle down with that, he was determined to rise above that. Being young parents ourselves, we really do not encourage early pregnancy because we know how hard it would be for yourself and for your family. Our point is, if you’re already there, it’s a much better to make it right.
Our decisions led to many hard consequences. Although late, we have still seen it. And we weren’t willing to keep going with the flow. “We’ll make things right. We’ll make it up to our parents. We’ll be good partners. We’ll be good parents. The Lord will be the center of this all. Our life will change. The Lord will change our hearts and spirits. The Lord will use our imperfections for His glory. We will surrender our life to Him”, that’s what we had in heart and mind.
My husband recognized that to become a good dad, he must be socially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially prepared. To become ready is a choice he made every day from my pregnancy until today. He wasn’t ready but he also wasn’t willing to stay the same. He was determined to grow into a husband and father that we would need. It’s a lifelong process that he’d have to keep learning.
This is one of the best decisions he has ever made in his life: to desire and seek growth. He didn’t let life push him around and waited on “change” as if it was going to happen on it’s own. He went after it.
EMPTYING OF SELF
When I hear the word “empty”, it feels negative. But not with the Lord. We asked God for emptying because we know that God doesn’t leave what he empties, empty. He will always fill it with something much more beautiful.
Mark was like a cup of soda who wanted to turn into a fresh fruit juice. Hehe. He knew he couldn’t be filled with beautiful things until he empties himself from the bad things. He knew God couldn’t fully transform him into the loving husband and responsible father he prayed for if he wasn’t willing to let go of his old and selfish ways.
That was his first step, to let God empty him and fill him with who is truly meant to be. A man after God’s own heart, a husband who sought the best for his wife, a dad who loved his daughter more than the world, and a man who is in pursuit of growth so that he may bless others.
Mark craved to be filled. So, he read a lot of books and blogs to increase his knowledge. He also submitted to church leaders. In fact, he has two leaders. A leader for the youth- who helped him deal with things young people go through (choosing friends, focusing on the Lord, being different from the world). A leader for couples- who was a man who has been married and have been a father much longer than he has. More importantly, this leader was also after God’s heart. He guided Mark in marriage and in parenting. Mark’s heart was very teachable. And of course, he has his own accountability with the Lord.
So here, readiness.
- Financial Readiness
This is our greatest challenge. We were fully financially dependent on our parents until June of this year. Well, is it safe to say that we’re 80% financially dependent? We’re so blessed to have parents who generously gives with love and even without us asking. My husband gave a lot of effort to graduate and next week, he is landing his first job! Yay! But even when he was still a student, he wasn’t willing to remain a financially handicapped dad who can’t provide for his family. Whenever he could, he would get into small businesses. That’s where he gets money for our daughter and sometimes, small gifts for me. It was also because of that small business that we were able to travel locally last year.
Though we can’t fully stand on our own yet, he didn’t rest on that thought. He worked hard to get us somewhere. Financial dependence is one thing but it’s our attitude and hard work in this season that counts. Soon, by God’s grace, we’d be fully dependent and can start blessing others too. Hehe. We’re excited for that!
Do not settle for less. Seek growth and rise above circumstances.
- Social Readiness
Ahhh, this one is very important. Mark had to start choosing his best friends. We are meant to be friends with everyone but we have to choose our best friends carefully. Because best friends create impact in our lives- and when we’re married and have kids, they indirectly impact their lives as well.
It doesn’t mean Mark went on an unfriending spree. He stayed friends with his friends. He was just careful on who he become best friends with. You know, the people he spends a lot of time with and influences him. That’s one part of friendship, we are always influenced by them (and them by us). What matters is what influence we get. Is it good? Does it bring growth? Does it lead to life or destruction?
Now, Mark enjoys skateboarding with a few friends. He also enjoys bonding with our Christian friends. They sometimes go out to play bowling, have coffee, or just really chill. They all have one thing in common though, they bring life, encouragement, growth, and rebuke. They don’t feed mistakes and wrong decisions, they inspire Mark to fight for difference in the world.
- Emotional Readiness
He prepared his heart. Fatherhood will require different approaches from him. As our family and daughter grows, he will need to grow, too. He has prepared himself and is continuing to prepare himself for the next seasons he knows he will encounter.
Mark wants to have 4-5 kids. He knows there’s a lot of work that needs to be done with him. Hehe.
- Spiritual Readiness
Besides reading books, learning from others, and experiencing the journey firsthand, Mark sought God’s design of a good husband and dad above all. He didn’t go with the flow of the world’s standards. He pursued God’s standards.
To be loving, gentle, kind, and to rebuke, discipline, guide, are all God’s commands to Mark. The Lord has taught Mark about the weight of his identity and his responsibilities. First, Mark is a son of God. Second, he is a husband to me. Third, he is a father to Taziana. Last, he is in service of others (ministry, work, friends).
This is why he knows that marriage is priority and why keeping our marriage healthy would benefit him, his wife, and then our daughter. He also understood that nurturing our daughter and getting to know her heart is far more important than any job that he could get. Career is important because it is what would eventually supply the needs of our family but never more important than the hearts of the members of our family. Whenever he works/studies over the week days, he makes sure to set at least two hours with us every night and Sunday is always family day.
Because Mark acknowledges God as his Father, he accepts all guidance and commands from Him. My husband is the head of the family. If he wants the rest of the members to get to know the Lord, the best way is for him to lead us. And he can’t lead us if he himself isn’t surrendered to God.
- Physical Readiness
Though Mark gives us a lot of his time, attention, and love, he doesn’t neglect himself. To be able to give us love, he must also love himself first. To be able to give us time, he must first be well rested (body and mind). He regularly tends to his personal needs. He meets up with his friends, he skates every other day as a form of cardio, and he hits the gym every day. He could go only as far as his body and mind can take him- that’s why exercise is a must! Reading and experience is the best exercise of the mind while lifting weights is his best exercise for his body. And of course, rest.
Building healthy habits also enables Mark to model for me and our children. He doesn’t smoke and drinks only a few glasses during family occasions. This inspires us to pursue the same life style and would eventually teach our daughter to find a man who takes good care of himself like her daddy does to himself. A man cannot fully care to others if he doesn’t know how to care for himself.
That’s it, guys! Thank you for reading through my Father’s Day special post for my husband. Though I have been his friend since we were 11, I still can’t help but be so surprised and proud of my best friend. He has grown so well in life and continues to grow into the man God designed him to be. On top of that, I am very grateful to the Lord for giving me the privilege to be the woman who gets to stand by this man for the rest of his life. Mark truly couldn’t have done this by himself. This is all God’s work and grace. Praise God because He loved us enough to guide us, discipline us, mold us, and renew us. Every day with this man is a gift from the Lord.
To have a family like this, to be married to a man like Mark, and to raise a daughter like Taziana is a clear proof to me that God desires what is best for me even if at times I don’t deserve it. I could never work hard enough to deserve these blessings. These blessings were given to me during the days I was most undeserving. Blessings are given, not earned.
Happy Father’s Day to all dads out there. Happy Father’s day to you, my love! And Happy Father’s Day to my Father who made sure I lacked nothing good and who ultimately raised me.
Who am I sovereign Lord, and what is my family that you have brought me this far? 2 Samuel 7:18