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Lightning in a bottle for Father’s Day

“What do you want for Father’s Day?”

Almost every June I’m stumped by this question. Sometimes I want to grill burgers and play board games. Occasionally I’ll have my eye on a new book. Almost always I have the same response, “New socks.”

Having been asked this question more than a dozen times, I should be better at answering. Having read Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages I should be more intentional about having an answer prepared. Living in a world where I am inundated with advertisements algorithmically targeted to pique my interest, I should have a Christmas list year-round.

But that’s just not me. It usually takes a day, two days, a week, or even two weeks for me to answer the question. That’s if I answer it at all.

Two weeks ago I thought about this question. I thought about it playing basketball with my son. Then we played Lego, letting our imaginations lead us brick by brick. We built a car, a spaceship, and a bridge. We didn’t need instructions. They were our creations. If only we were the first to build the double-decker couch.

I thought about this question while sitting around the bonfire with my daughter. We talked about the future. We talked about an upcoming college visit. We talked about careers. I wanted her to know she’s loved, talented, and hard-working. I wanted her to know how very proud of her I am. I want her to know that she will slay dragons and fell giants if she puts her mind to it. There’s not much time left before her future is now.

I still didn’t know how to answer the question: “What do you want for Father’s Day?” I thought about the past. My children taught me that I could change diapers, make the cheesiest mac and cheese, and lose badly to them in board games. They taught me to drive a golf ball, duel with Pokémon cards, and listen to “Let it Go” for an entire afternoon. They taught me patience and gentleness. Being their dad multiplied my capacity for giving and receiving love.

Most of all, they remind me that anything is possible. They remind me that God is a big God, and with Him all things are possible. In the way there’s seemingly no limit to a child’s creative imagination, there’s no limit to God’s creativity. In the way the next generation will slay dragons and fell giants, God is still conquering. In the way they taught their father, an attorney, to drive a golf ball, there is so much still to learn. For them, life and this world are big and full of adventure. And they’re right.

For me, that’s lightning in a bottle. It’s that electric thing I need and don’t get anywhere else. It brings joy and hope. It picks me up and jolts me into perseverance. It’s that zap that brings out my best and recharges me when I’m low. My children remind me of the goodness, the vastness, and the might of King Jesus. Being reminded of those truths and being able to live into them is an incredible gift.

What do I want for Father’s Day? I want more lightning in a bottle.

I hope every father has their own lightning in a bottle. To every father, stepfather, and grandfather: happy Father’s Day. Tell lots of dad jokes. After all, they have to laugh on Father’s Day.

——

Jordan Gaffney is the Marshall County Attorney

and a proud father.

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