Note: This is the first reflection of an upcoming book I will publish at the end of this year or at the beginning of 2022. I wrote this book by hand in a little journal for my daughter. It includes a series of reflections about life, spirituality, and my perspectives on what it means to be a father. Now that I’m near the end of writing, I’m beginning the process of typing from the handwritten version. The book will include reflections on topics such as goodness, humility, peace, faith, and love.
The world I want for you is kind and gentle. It would be peaceful, loving in all manner of form and being. I think about our world often. What kind of world is it? Is it suitable and safe for you? Indeed, its violence and cruelty are beyond words, beyond shocking.
I see your love, your gentleness, and your bright imagination. I think to myself, “The world doesn’t deserve you.” I often wonder about what kind of world you deserve. For you certainly deserve better. And yet, many, all of us, deserve a better world. The struggle of our world is the struggle against injustice and power. It is tiresome and disheartening. I want a better world for me, for you, for us all.
I watch in amazement at how you open your eyes to see the world. What a joy it is to see how it fills your eyes! My desire, my purpose, is to keep your wonder alive. To expose you to love and compassion so you might live, rightfully, in peace. The world I want for you is one of peace. Thus, my goal is to create that world for you. Though I know there is only so much one father can do.
I cannot shelter you from the world. As much as I would like to, it isn’t in your best interests to keep you away, to create my own world for you. Your mother and I—we cannot be your world. Consequently, this means that you must encounter the world beyond our home. And however much it pains me to do so, I cannot hold you back.
The world I want for you doesn’t look like the one beyond our door. The world beyond our door contains much cruelty and suffering. It’s unfair and unpredictable. It’s one filled with disappointment. Each day I wake up filled with hopefulness and regret. Hopefulness in that I still cling to the hope that one day we may solve all the problems of the world. It is the desire, perhaps a naive one, that we’d finally wake up to what we’re doing to one another, our children, and even our planet. Thus, I eagerly await the day of our collective clarity—when love finally reigns. Even if that eagerness is out of foolishness. And yet, the regret that this hasn’t taken place fills me with an undefinable sadness. I regret the damage we do to one another. I regret the suffering we impart on our world, our neighbors. Even more so, I regret the suffering I have imparted upon others. Truly, each day is one of both joy and sadness. It’s the ambiguity of wishing the world was different, finding the will to change it, and the constant failure of coming up short both collectively and individually.
So, what is one to do? Indeed, this creates the most vexing dilemma as your father. Should I wait in anticipation for the day that things might change, clinging to a desperate hope for a world that’s finally fit for you? Surely this would be a long wait, for I don’t believe there is a world that can adequately fit the one I believe that you should have. As a father, the trouble of our world brings with it a new concern—one in which I didn’t carry as a younger man. For now, I’m forced to think about the future in a way I had never needed to before. The world of the future brings with it a newfound concern for me. No longer abstract, the world of the future is your world. Thus, what happens in the future has an interest for me. The world I want for you is a world that lives in the future. I will not live to see it, but you may. As such, I dream of this world. Will it bring joys and wonders beyond belief? Will it be one of renewed love manifested in a wonderful union of humanity? This I hope, for the world I want for you must be the best of what makes us human. Our love, compassion, and joy on full display—reaching and fulfilling their maximum potential.
What a strange feeling it is to think of a future that I’ll never see, but which now impacts me in a way I had never considered before. Now your future is my future, your world is my world. I can’t sit idly by while my world, our world, descends into madness. This madness seemingly obliterates all goodness in its path. There are days that I lose all hope in the future, in our world. Honestly, it terrifies me when I consider the world you’re entering, have entered, will enter into. Consequently, it’s hard to not be cynical. In the past, I’d embrace this cynicism, live in it, and accept it as just the way things are. But with your arrival I no longer have that luxury. Your birth, your existence challenges me to look forward—to encounter the future. The world I want for you is one I’m forced to consider. The world I want for you has to be better, must be better, if we are to carry on as a people and society.
It’s amazing how much your existence challenges me as a theologian. Without a doubt, fatherhood is an interesting phenomenon. It informs and influences you on multiple layers. I cannot simply be a man or a theologian. Fatherhood influences all aspects of my being. My hopes and dreams become your hopes and dreams. My love becomes your love. My joy becomes your joy. Two distinct beings bound together, two but one. Me and you—you and me. Where I end you begin. How fascinating! In you is my future, in me your past, and in one other the present.
This means that the world I live in is no longer the same. By being filled with your presence, your existence, the world acquires a new impetus it never carried for me before. It’s truly amazing how much one person can change your outlook.
But perhaps I’m putting too much on your shoulders. How can one person become so profoundly important and influential in my life? I wonder this myself. Shouldn’t I give all of this more time? Is too much of my faith bound in you, my child? “My child,” how I love to say that! And it’s then, in that moment, that I realize why you’ve become so important to me. It has nothing to do with what you’ve done, or will do. Nor is it any accomplishment you might achieve. It’s simply the fact that you exist! That you’re here with me. You remind me that there still is love in this world, for I see it every day I look at your face. I see love, and all the potential it has to remake our world. In you, I see the face of God.
Therefore, this is why I’m writing this book for you. For love should inspire us to create, to wish, and to hope. It should lead us down unknown paths and open new doors. It should awaken within us the desire to care, to comfort, and to love others. I want a world that matches the love I have for you. The world I want for you is the one I’ll be describing in this book. Yet, it isn’t only for you. It’s the world I want for all who love. Because love deserves a world that matches its beauty. I believe the world can be remade. I believe that it can be saved, and that we can be saved of the brokenness that afflicts our collective being. Let me believe for you. Let me dream of this world I so desire and long for. I wish to describe the world I want for you.