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On becoming a father.


The mysteries of becoming a father are no longer whispered in the hallowed halls of the local hospital. There was a day in the not too distant past when Labor Rooms and Delivery Suites were the holy of hospital holies, dark chambers where the females of our species shared the secret agonies and eventual joys of Eve's curse. Back then it was a reminder that the male experience of becoming a father was a moment of blissful passion while nine months later mom pushed, heaved, breathed, and sweated, through the labor of giving birth. That has all changed now. Most Delivery Suites and welcome centers for entire families to witness the miracle. Once I was present with an entire family of church members. Over in the corner was a construction worker who had been swept into the frenzy. Joy to the world indeed!

When Liz was born I was confined to a waiting room. There was a direct telephone connection to Harriet's Labor Room and I called her every five seconds to see how the delivery was progressing. After five or six calls Harriet grunted that she would have to hang up now because she was trying to deliver a baby. So, with a few other almost fathers I waited. Hours later the doctor appeared to tell me that our eight pound eight ounce daughter had been born. Elizabeth Hope Holmes later called me "daddy". That June 25, Harriet Thomas Holmes suffered and bled so I could become a Father.

Two years later Brian Eliot Holmes came into this world. The whole world had turned upside down by then and I was permitted into the holy of holies to encourage Harriet and wipe her brow during the Lemaze childbirth system. What happened in that Labor Room was reality therapy for me. The legends and secrets that had been hidden in the whispers, winks and nods of the old world were suddenly in my face. In only a few minutes I realized up close why it was called a Labor Room. In my life I've never seen anyone labor like that. It was a moment of clarity. Childbirth is truly a miracle.

Reflection during the week of Father's Day since then reminds me that God's plan for the family is a miracle too. Becoming a Father in God's plan means that there is a mother too. And, that mother's pain and suffering is what made becoming a father possible and even more miraculous. These many years later I cannot celebrate the blessings of having a Godly father or being a father to Liz and Brian without also experiencing the joys of God's partner in life.

So, this week I'm thanking God for my mother, not pictured above, and Harriet Thomas Holmes, the sweet woman who brought our children into this world. For forty five years she's been the consistent, stable balance to my often perplexing ways. She's been the kind of mother to our children that raised the bar on my role as a father. And, of course, that's somewhat of a lament this week as well. Studies indicate that as many as 43% of the children in America live in a single parent home, without the influence of the father/mother dynamic God intended for the family. This truth both saddens me, and makes me thankful for the one who suffered so that I could become a father.

A Bible verse comes to mind. The Apostle Paul wrote to his younger colleague Timothy about a mother's influence. He wrote, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well" (2 Timothy 1:5, ESV).

That's what I'm talking about.

Being a father is among God's choicest blessings. Friday I'll mention Liz and Brian's special touch on my life as a father, and perhaps a few of the challenges as well. Today my heart is grateful for the mother who gave them so much Godly guidance, such a wonderful Christian example, large doses of patience and understanding, and genuine partnership in our family assignment. She was the one who's labor made becoming a father possible for me. And, even more, whose consistent sacrifice, partnership, and effort enabled me to be a father to them.


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