It’s everywhere on social media.
With good reason, moms are highly regarded today. Working or stay-at-home mom, Pinterest or TV dinners, Free-range or helicopter . . . moms spend themselves to invest in the well-being and success of their children. And as much as it sometimes seems that we think this is happening TO us, it’s not. We chose it and we’d choose it all over again.
With heartfelt love and respect to all the varying family dynamics in single-parent, working-parent, non-traditional provider role families, I’d like to give a shout out to the hardworking provider dads. Yours is a burden I cannot truly understand, but I see you in this story from the gospel of Mark:
Jesus and His disciples have just sailed away from the crowds, intent on finding a quiet place to rest and recharge. But when they land, they find the shoreline filled with people who saw them leaving and raced ahead to arrive before they got there. The time they could have spent resting was now given over to a crowd of needs. Toward evening, the disciples suggested to Jesus that the masses should probably be sent away so they could get some food.
I can only imagine a gentle smile on Jesus’ face as he says, “You give them something to eat.”
The 12 men must have been incredulous. “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
Jesus asked and discovered they had five loaves of bread and two fish among them. He had the crowd sit down in groups and He took the loaves and fish and “looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.”*
We lovingly laugh at the ways dads differ from moms. They have no problem feeding kids microwaved quesadillas and cereal for supper when mom’s gone. Mismatched socks? No problem. Bedhead? Whatever. Skinned knees? You’re fine.
Under this cool-natured attitude that dads exude there is a quiet, desperate love for his family. For many, many dads, the BEST way they know to show this enormous love is to provide: shelter, clothing, food. They are designed to carry this weight, often birthed in them with that final push and a baby’s cry. When they hold that eight pounds of sweet baby for the first time, it is translated to a daddy’s heart as a metric ton of fierce protection, unwavering love, and long-suffering provision.
Behind so many new sneakers and cozy homes and full bellies is a hardworking dad. And I guarantee you that dad carries a weight that sometimes threatens to crush him.
To the hardworking dads who silently worry if their long hours are enough to make ends meet; the ones who want everything for their kids but feel they just offer mediocrity; to the papas who live torn between the desire to be present and the call of provision that makes them absent—see yourself in this story and know you’re not alone.
Bring your five loaves and two fish.
Let Jesus bless it.
And give it back to you.
So that you, in turn, can give it away and watch it multiply before your very eyes.
As I read about the disciples gathering the twelve baskets of broken pieces I could definitely see the idea that there will always be enough for those who serve. Those who fill others will themselves be filled.
But I also saw something else: I saw the dads who walk in the door at night and get to spend a few hours partaking of the fragments of the day. The bits and pieces of the stories, the heartaches, the jokes, the homework, the stresses. They gather up the pieces of the day in their dad-hearts and they’re filled in a different way as they hold the leftovers of the miracle they helped to distribute.
Bring your five and two, dads.
It’s more than enough.
*Mark 6:31-44 (story retold in my words, all portions in quotations are actual Scripture)