My friend Nathaniel Turner at The Raising Supaman Project just asked me, “when is Father’s Day?” then answered his own question: to him, every day feels like Father’s Day. He feels grateful to have his son in his life and he never forgets how great a privilege it is to be a father. We didn’t all grow up with the greatest examples of fatherhood. To me, it’s an honor to do this work and be an involved father. Many of us dads are making it up as we go along.
So should Father’s Day be a celebration of your journey? No matter how old your kids are, you are still on the job. And there is still work to be done. Let’s not sit back and admire a work-in progress. Turn the idea of “honoring Dad” around. Use the day as an opportunity to connect with our kids. Take advantage of your “freebie” day as an excuse to break the routine and do something different. Now that the sun is coming out and Summer is here, Father’s Day is around the corner.
Today’s post is by author, speaker, and pastor, Jody Burkeen. Jody is the father of 4, husband to his wonderful wife, Nan for 25 years, and pastor at Ignite Church, in Eureka, MO.
In 1994, during a party my wife and I were attending, someone asked me a question I regret ever answering the way I did, “Do you think you could love your wife if she were disfigured, maimed, or paralyzed?”
In my drunken stupor I responded, “I’m not sure.”
Needless to say my wife didn’t buy the, “It must have been the alcohol talking” excuse.
August 4, 2015, marks a quarter century with my beautiful wife. I can’t imagine being with someone else. I envision us dying together like the old couple in the movie Titanic. As the ship goes does, we’re lying in the bed, spooning, knowing we lived a wonderful life together at peace with what’s to come.
Last February, that vision went cloudy with two words: “Breast Cancer.”
The day before we had been making grocery lists, putting kids’ schedules on the calendars, and about to start a new church. The very next day we heard the doctor say, “Stage 2,” and life was put on hold as we started facing the real possibility of death.
So we gathered ourselves together, started mining information, and faced some tough decisions. Should we go chemotherapy or mastectomy or double mastectomy? Frankly, I wanted to go back to choosing between Frosted Flakes or Coco Puffs.
We chose to start with chemo and the doctor reminded us of all the side effects: loss of hair, weight loss, extended sickness, nausea, diarrhea, and just plain tired. And like clockwork, these side effect hit my wife. She lost 25 lbs, all her hair, and has been sick throughout the chemo.
My wife has always been the backbone of our family. It’s been tough for our four kids to see Momma the way kids shouldn’t have to see Momma.
Unlike the fear that I and the children have – a fear of death – my wife has had a different kind of fear. Not that dying doesn’t come to her mind every now and then, but she has struggled with me wanting to leave her or fall out of love with her during this sickness because of the joke I made 20 years ago when my friend asked me that question. I wish I could go back in time and hit that my 24 year old immature self upside the head and give my wife the security that I meant what I said on our wedding day: “till death do us part.” I wish I could have reassured her in that moment we would be the old couple on the Titanic and tell her I’m not going anywhere.
But since I can’t jump in the Delorean and go back in time, I remind her daily that I’m not going anywhere, she is more beautiful than ever, and I will love her until the ship goes down.
Men, I guess the point I am trying to make is twofold: know when to clam up and know when to speak up. First, clam up when you’re about to say something stupid, even in jest. Secondly, speak up. Assure her with your words you will fight for her, stand up for her, and always be there for her.
Last February and many days this year my wife and I needed a reminder of what I committed to 25 years ago. What about you? How can you remind your wife you’re in it until the ship goes down?
and an UNCOMMEN Partnership with the MasculiniTEAM
The following is an interview between UNCOMMEN Head Coach, Dee Lanier, and UNCOMMEN mascot, Jack. We do not take any responsibility for the words or actions of Jack, he’s a fictional character, and he’s a jack, so please don’t hold us accountable for his bizarre line of questioning.
Jack: Pleasure getting some time with you. I’d shake your hand, my my hoofs are a little dirty.
Dee: No problem. Elbow bump
Jack: So Manuary was a sort of soft launch for UNCOMMEN, I understand. Tell me more a little about that.
Dee: Yeah, so, we wanted to celebrate the fact that our beta app was released to both Google Play and Apple (check it out at download.uncommen.org). We had a target of doing so by January, and we were able to accomplish that. So we decided to jump on the bandwagon of Manuary to have some fun. We are planning on a full launch in Q1 with some major app bug fixes and our new trash talk functionality fully baked in. We’re working on that final build right now.
Jack: Cool. So when I look up #Manuary, I see a bunch of stuff going on. Guys growing beards in Canada, eh? But we see in your app these challenges under I Challenge U from the MasculiniTEAM. Why partner with them?
Dee: Well we love what all of those groups are doing, those bringing men’s awareness to the forefront, others challenging men to step it up in their families, conferences on manhood, etc. But we kinda have a bromance with the MasculiniTEAM. They’re kinda crazy and we love them for it.
Jack: Did you just say, bromance, bro? I’ll take your man card now.
Dee: (10 secs of dead stare). Let me say it like this, those dudes are doing the fun things all of us married with children guys remember doing when we were younger. Now even I wasn’t crazy enough to do a polar bear swim, but I know plenty of guys that did. Pretty much any guy in their mid thirties remembers doing something Johnny Knoxville’ish with a group of guys back on college, because it took just one ring leader to round them up, and say, let’s get the hall to have a super soaker war in the snow, or something ridiculous like that. And we did it because we had nothing better to do, and it was fun. Change Racing car driver, Kevin Conway and I were catching up and telling funny stories from 12 years ago.
Jack: So is this just your wish to be young again?
Dee: No, it isn’t like that. It’s the fact that we can relate. We know the MasculiTEAM guys are mostly in the prime of their fun years with a bunch of brothers . We want them to enjoy it, because within the next decade, they’ll be exactly where we are now. They are undoubtedly having some of the most significant conversations of their lives while on their trips and doing their challenges. They are drinking hot sauce smoothies with future groomsmen, and jumping through fiery hoops with guys who will give them a call when their first child is born. Brotherhood is built during these years. At UNCOMMEN, we aim to have the brotherhood continue during the years when it’s most needed, and not just talking Fantasy Football or March Madness. When life’s challenges hit- marriage issues, loss of a job, difficulties with kids, we hope these guys stay in each other’s corner.
Jack: So that makes sense. It also makes sense why you modified their challenges, made a little softer for the old guys in your app. Instead of a automatic car wash challenge, take a cold shower? C’mon man, that’s weak, and you know it.
Dee: I’m a grown married man, pay my own mortgage and my heating bill. For a 37 year old who has to be at work early in the morning, to take a cold shower and see on my leaderboard that my dude, Antoine did the same, believe it or not, that’s a crazy challenge.
Jack: So if someone the MasculiniTEAM calls you up and says that your Manuary challenges in the UNCOMMEN app seem a little tame, what do you have to say?
Dee: Call me in 10 years! Seriously though, call me in 10 and ask me if I’m still being UNCOMMEN. I’ll ask if he’s still Maculin-i (laughs). I really appreciate those guys. I want to thank them for reminding us all to have fun as men, and that we’re all better when we do life together.