Monday, April 14, 2008

On Being A Jealous Father

In the past couple of months, my daughter and I have developed a ritual as I leave the house for work. I used to sneak out so she didn't see me--if she did, she would cry and cry. But somehow we have negotiated a leaving for the day routine. I tell her good bye, and as I go down the stairs to leave, we give each other a kiss in between each of the spaces between the bars in the stairwell. When we run out of spaces, my daughter smiles and says happily "bye bye," or "see later." It is a precious ritual and I cherish each kiss and the ritual itself. It is something that she and I share. It is ours.

Today, my mom arrived from Indiana to spend the week with us. We don't see her often, so I am glad when our daughter can spend time with grandma. I am happy to see that she recognizes grandma and enjoys her. But this afternoon when grandma went downstairs for a nap, my daughter proceeded to induct her into the ritual I thought belonged to just us. She offered kisses to grandma in between each of the spaces in the stairwell. "What!" I thought. That is our ritual, that is something that we do!.

I am reminded of a recent post (sorry, I forget whose blog it was and can't find it) about concerns regarding Oprah theology. In the video Oprah referred to reading that God is described as a jealous God in the Bible. Her response was no, God can't be jealous. I have encountered that sentiment among a number of congregants in different churches. It seems to be an imperfect quality. And yet it seems that if something that rightly belongs to you is given to someone else, feeling jealous is quite appropriate.

Now, I don't mean to equate my sense that my daughter's good by ritual kisses belong to me with our affection and desires belonging to God, but this experience has given me a window. That God is jealous is a way of saying that God cares. God, being our creator, redeemer and sustainer is the appropriate recipient of all of our love, affection, and worship. When that affection is directed to an inappropriate place, a caring God can't help but be jealous.

Today I have lost the sense of the ritual with my daughter being something that just the two of us share--and to be honest I am a little jealous. It isn't a jealousy directed against my mom or that wishes my daughter loved no one else, but a jaelousy that seeks a truly special relationship with my daughter. I imagine that my life as a father will be filled with special moments, and with special moments losing meaning. But, I also imagine that this means my life as a loving, caring father will also be filled with streaks of righteous, and perhaps not so righteous jealousy. In either case, it makes me feel pretty good about the extent to which our jealous God loves each of us.


klh said...


Cobalt said...

Thanks for this entry. This actually lent some perspective on the issue for me too.