On Time // A Father's Reflection
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
I wonder how often I fall into the trap of putting my human constructions on the life God gives us. One specific instance of this is how we measure time. Despite that the span of my life can so far be objectively measured at 36 years, the truth is I know nothing concrete about the notion of time--and to be honest--I don’t even believe in it.
What I do believe is this: the first 18 years of my life lasted much longer than the last 18. I just can’t prove it. Oh, I understand that by counting the earth’s revolutions around the sun the two halves of my life are likely very equal. But the way that my mind has perceived these sets of years brings about some apparent contradictions. I can recall so much more detail about the moments of my childhood that surely those events must have lasted longer than the brief instances that the measurements of time tells me they did.
Many of these memories are with my father: wrestling on the floor, playing catch in the backyard, listening to Bucks games with him late at night in the dark kitchen before he left for his third-shift factory job. The influence of all that I soaked in during those years have had so much bearing.
Conversely, counting years says that it has been almost two decades since my wife and I began dating, and I am certain that cannot be true. Despite that we "just started" having kids we now somehow have four. My endless high school years seem as if they just finished a few years ago. They did not. The days and years since, including my last eight as a father, have largely vanished into deeper places in my mind until they are specifically called upon.
I’m certainly not the first to recognize this incongruity in how time is perceived as a youth and as we get older; in fact, I seem to remember reading “great” philosophers like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche pondering similar thoughts (but recording them in a much more developed and precise way!). Even the artist formerly known as Hootie sang how he didn’t believe in time either. That was 18 years ago.
All of this forces me to look back at these recent years with the cliché question of where has all the time gone and further wonder if I am doing enough with my time as a father. Have I guided my children to become considerate and loving people as best I can? Have I helped to ensure their academic success? Have I done everything I could have to create a fertile ground for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts? The influence of these years have so much bearing.
The human inability to put the true impact of time into quantitative terms reminds me that my children’s minds perceive these instances much differently than I do. The ways that I have influenced them are likely much more impactful and memorable than I recognize—and that’s a bit scary when considering all those times I failed in my role. But it also reminds me to make an extra effort to do the things that I hope will mean something positive to them in the future. It reminds me of the responsibility of being a father. And it reminds me of the need for me to ask for God’s help more often.
"Hi I'm Will. I live in Watertown, WI and work in Menomonee Falls, WI as a communications specialist. I am married to HHH writer Kelly and enjoy running, biking and wrestling with our kids."
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