Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Father's Tears

Hello my fellow crazy travelers,

Steven Curtis Chapman has long been one of my favorite Christian singer/songwriters. He is gifted both with lyrics and with musical composition. He has had a consistent testimony over his 20+ years of ministry and his music has been a blessing to me and millions of other people.

A few weeks ago I was driving back home to Portland from a 3-day men's conference. I was on the road between Lebanon and Albany listening to a Christian FM radio station when Chapman's song, "Cinderella," came on the air. I had heard the song several times before but suddenly I heard it in a new way. For some reason it made me think of my own daughter, Simoni, who is now almost 22-years-old, married with children of her own. I thought back to all the times I was too busy for her, too busy to play with her, too busy to listen to her, too busy to give her the attention she needed and deserved. I thought of how many times I was overly stern with her, hurting her with my words and actions. I started to tear up so bad that I had to pull the car over to the shoulder of the road and park until I could get my emotions back under control. Isn't it amazing how a song has the power to touch us that deeply. The song hit me sideways and I realized that I have not always been there for my "Cinderella" when she really needed me.

Then, as I got the car headed down the road again, I suddenly thought of the song in the context of the tragic story of his little girl's recent death and I got all misty again. Maria Sue, 5-years-old, was one of the Chapmans' three little adopted Chinese daughters. On Wednesday, May 21st of this year one of their older sons was moving the family SUV in the driveway and accidently backed over his little sister and killed her.

I cannot begin to imagine the pain that the whole Chapman family has had to endure--for their young son who was driving the car, for the other children in the family, for Steven and his wife, Mary Beth. The following is a video tribute that they did in remembrance of little Maria Sue, using the song, "Cinderella." Watch the video. I'll have a few more things to say on the other side.

I have three children, all grown up and married with kids of their own. A few days ago we took our second son, Chris, and his family to the airport. They are moving to Miami, FL. Earlier that morning as Chris and I were coming back from shuttling his car out to a friend's house in Gresham we had a while in the car together to talk, just father and son. Our conversation turned to the subject of raising children. Chris has two, Lucas (5) and Gabriela (8 months). He expressed his desire to be a good dad and his frustration about sometimes screwing it up. He asked me some questions to which I did not have very good answers because I'm still a novice in the dad business. It was an interesting moment as we shared our common desire to be good dads, to raise our children to know right from wrong and to be emotionally balanced. We have our children for so little time. Before we know it they are all grown up and gone. In Steven Curtis Chapman's case he only had his little daughter for 5 years and then she was gone in seconds.

I didn't mean for this blog entry to be a downer but sometimes it's important to stop and remember that this life is very short and we don't always get second chances or do-overs. With some things we just have to get it right the first time.

A proud but crazy father,