I remember graduating from high school like it was yesterday.
When I put on that sleek black graduation gown, I felt like I was donning the uniform for an exclusive club. I was no longer a high school student. I was someone different—someone new. (That is, once I turned in my overdue library books a week later in exchange for my actual diploma).
And then, what seemed like just days after, I remember walking across the platform and being handed the diploma that officially sealed my college career. The thrill of entering the “real world” was electrifying—I might as well have been knighted on that platform!
Then there was the next platform where I made my vows and became a married man. Surely, I was making all of this up. I never believed I would make it this far in life.
And then, just a few days ago I stood alongside my bride in a dingy and poorly-lit doctor’s office, tucked away in an Iraqi market brimming with crowds of people. There was no platform, no diplomas, no stands filled with people. In the corner of the room stood an outdated ultrasound machine showing us the baby who was growing inside my wife. Dr. Parween, our dear Iraqi doctor, finally caught up with our baby in the midst of the baby’s flailing limbs and printed our baby’s first picture to take home on a piece of paper.
It was a little bit bigger than a stamp, and it sank in a little bit more: I’m going to be a father.
That photo has since made it to the desktop of my computer where it’s brought to the front of my screen multiple times during the day, reminding me that I didn’t just make believe Dr. Parween and her dingy office but that I’m really going to be a dad, and that blurry 2D ultra-sound photo is really mine to keep.
Next to that photo is another picture I received a few days before from a friend of a friend. It’s of a baby boy’s room in Syria. It’s not a photo you’ll find on Pinterest—there’s no color sequence bedding, no vintage storybook photos on the wall, or baby names embroidered on pillows. It’s of a boy sprawled out on a ripped piece of foam, separating him from the concrete floor. The only other thing in the photo is a coat rack bolted into the wall. Instead of coats, I counted 14 AK-47’s dangling from the rack.
I lost my faith in guns awhile ago, but I feel like I finally understand, if only a little, why that boy’s father may be fighting. As my wife feels the first kicks of our baby, I feel the beginnings of a love that I’ve never felt before. It’s difficult to think of anything I wouldn’t already do for this child. Probably much like that boy’s father in Syria, I woke up this morning believing that the way things are isn’t the way they have to be.
It’s that shared belief that makes me so incredibly thankful to be a part of this Coalition. A Coalition that believes that things can and should be different and that this change can and should start by loving before anything; loving preemptively. May our children not be robbed of the witness they need in order to believe that there can be an alternative to war.
Thanks for not robbing Iraq of that witness. Thank you for all the lives you’ve helped us save and for all the father’s days you’ve made possible.
Let me hear your thoughts on fatherhood this year—write me and tell me what you think. I’d love to hear from you!