The Biggest Mistake I Made This Year

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This time last year everything was going according to plan. We all know how good it feels when life is predictable don’t we? My wife Meredith and I loved watching the progress on our first home, a small townhouse being built in south Florida. We’d be less than a mile from the beach and ten minutes from my mentor. We seemingly had everything we could have hoped for. In just a few month’s time we’d be Floridians.

Then, the unexpected; in mid December Chuck, my mentor, passed away. He was the founder and Director of Band of Brothers in Christ. All at once, everything felt uncertain.

I want to gloss over what happened after he passed, and just chalk it all up as being a blur, but two days after we celebrated Chuck’s life, my 30th birthday present was finding out we were having a little girl.

The truth is, nothing about those next few weeks is blurry. In a weird way, it feels like I remember too much of it. The memories are vivid, and sometimes distracting. I got hit with waves of emotion with no warning or notice. Almost every night, I’d kiss my wife goodnight and stay up searching for work tasks to complete. I was trying hard to play the hero. Not just for Band of Brothers, but for our daughter. It was like when we found out our baby’s gender, I officially became “Dad.” But I was making a huge mistake.

I was trying to control everything. And I mean everything.

My determination to make sure my daughter would be born into a stable environment caused me to be pushy with the people who loved me the most. I was Christ-shoving instead of Christ-loving.

My drive to see Band of Brothers remain successful robbed people of the opportunity to help early on, and worse, my over-availability sometimes gave the impression to my family that my priorities were out of sync. Of course, I got sick and had to take time to rest. Things got quiet and the Lord spoke to me during that stretch of brokenness.

Throughout, Meredith was my stabilizing force, “Keeping this up might not be healthy” she’d say sympathetically. She could see how badly I wanted to be a good dad. Our Board of Directors support went a long way too, “Enjoy family time. Get adequate rest. We’re here to help,” they reaffirmed. They could see how badly I wanted to be a good leader.

With their support as I rebounded over the next few months, the Lord turned chaos into clarity: I’m the guide, not the hero. That changed everything.

Chuck once encouraged me to be the same person all the time, “that’s integrity” he’d say, before asking me to recite Psalm 78:72. He was a guide for many of us. He pointed us to Christ and didn’t waste our time trying to be the hero.

My daughter is six months old now and I’ve come to discover that’s my role as dad; be the guide that points my her to Christ. Incidentally, it’s also my role as Director. Matter-of-fact it’s just my role as Christian, and I believe it is our role as Christians.


So, looking back, how did all that change things?

All these diapers make life feel a little chaotic still, but there is clarity because my role as guide has been clearly defined. Here are the seven changes I grew into embracing this year because of it:

  1. I am now comfortable putting my phone on airplane mode in the evenings and focusing on my family. I have permission to be present even when we don’t have an agenda, and that permission is spelled two ways, “h-u-s-b-a-n-d” and “d-a-d.”
  1. I don’t have to respond to every text and every email immediately.
  1. Occasionally, I need to work an evening or go out of town. My family supports this because I’m present when I don’t have work responsibilities.
  1. God has shared (with the bobic community) a tremendous amount of joy through connecting new brothers to alumni brothers and seeing alumni brothers mentor the new guys and guide them into a life of discipleship. Almost a year later, the icing on the cake is seeing the old “new guys” step up to mentor. 1 Corinthians 11:1 is happening, and it’s so cool to see.
  1. The temptation to play the hero manifests itself through my codependent feelings of always being needed, which = non-stop availability. However, I can’t witness to someone else at the cost of losing my witness to my wife and child(ren).
    1. I’ll also occasionally take a late evening call, but I’ll communicate with Meredith ahead of time, “This may be an emergency, are we good if I take 15 minutes to chat with this person?” Then when I answer the phone, I tell the person I have 15 minutes. It’s not because I don’t love the guy calling, it’s because I really love my wife.
  1. Band of Brothers in Christ has never had this much support, and it is more fun than ever. In addition to financial support slowly increasing:
    1. Alumni Brothers signed up to mentor new brothers
    2. Alumni Brothers co-leading our summer programs around the country
    3. We have a role based Board that oversees the following:
      1. Executive Committee
      2. Prayer Team
      3. Fundraising Committee
      4. Curriculum Committee
  1. The majority of my hobbies died this year (rest in peace Boston Celtics, Arrow, and Malcolm Gladwell books). Truthfully, sometimes I’m tired and I miss them, but a wise man named Scott once asked me what I wanted my life to look like when I’m 70 and I look back on things… and I don’t see any of those old hobbies in my rearview mirror.
  1. Bonus: Violet, if you get to read this one day, daddy loves you. (Also, you’re 196 days old today)
2 replies
  1. Samuel Morris
    Samuel Morris says:

    good read. I appreciate your vulnerability and how your words so clearly represent what is on your heart (Ma.12:34). looking forward to the day you will be that 70 year old man, and writing something like this in a book.
    ps I’m a fan of the title:
    God Made Me, Christian

    “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34)

    -Samuel Morris
    Alpha ’16

    Reply

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