What is it like to be a father? At times it is like a melody — soft, flowing, and beautiful. At other times it is a percussive march — confident, goal directed, and disciplined. Still, at other times it is like a piece of rock music — rhythmic, fun, bright, and thunderous. When a child is born, a father’s heart is filled with excitement and hope, and the false confidence that he mostly knows it all. But he doesn’t. In that moment, the wisest fathers have, at best, an intellectual idea of what faces them, but that idea is nowhere near an understanding of the complexities, frustrations, failures, victories and beauties to which they are about to be joined. Their intellectual idea has only the meanest skeletal relation to the real and whole experience. Even the best thought out plans will be altered in drastic ways. This condition improves only marginally with each new child, because each new child is unique, as well as born into a different world than the previous child.
And this is why so much of fatherhood is really not like a melody, or a confident march, or a rocking guitar rhythm. Much of fatherhood feels like a cacophony — noisy, loud, dissonant, and uncertain. It is that uncertainty that so often makes for one of the greatest challenges in fatherhood. It is the uneasy ambiguity every father faces when he must admit that he does not know what to do in difficult situations. That challenge is multiplied tenfold when he has been in lockstep with a percussive march, only to learn he was marching on the wrong road, or to the wrong beat. The father must then learn to play new music in front of everyone he knows, and multitudes that he does not, but especially in front of the child who will be borne along by the music he is playing, and who will see and hear how each mistake is handled, and so learn also to play the music. The father must do this with no metronome to keep the step. There is no sheet music to follow. There is no way to practice a tune because he is writing the tune as he goes, and every measure is different than the measure before.
Though he has no sheet music, no metronome, and no instrument, if he is a Christian, he has a conductor and a chorus. A Christian father has Christ as a conductor. He should pattern his music to the movements, ictus and takt of Christ. In this, he won’t find total certainty, but he will find fundamental certainty. His chorus is found in his wife and the multitudes of other believers who follow the same takt of Christ the conductor. They should support the father with a unified voice. When the father and fellow believers do these things in true concert, then cacophony evolves to beauty, and is filled with measures of melody, percussion, and rhythm.