Fierce Love

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Thought for the Week

I’m not a violent person. In fact, when I was studying method acting in college—the tap-into-your-feelings approach made famous by Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro—I had difficulty inhabiting a particularly violent role because I’d never felt the desire to hurt anyone. My theatre teacher accused me of lying: “Everyone’s felt like killing somebody!”

But I honestly hadn’t.

A decade and a half passed and I found myself in the throes of first-time fatherhood. Until then I’d paid very little attention to children, except the sweetly sanitized ones or the artfully abrasive ones—I frequently had to suppress the urge to shout, “Control your kid, lady!” Babies? Nah. As far as I was concerned, they all looked like Winston Churchill. Give me a puppy any day.

Then came my baby. And I fell hopelessly in love. Mandy looked nothing like the Prime Minister. She was, in fact, the most perfect thing I’d ever seen. A bunch of time-release dad genes clicked on all at once, and I lit up like a runway at Chicago O’Hare. Two months after she was born, I guest spoke at a mountain retreat in Georgia. That night, while we were sitting around a campfire, someone asked, “What’s on your mind?” And like an unexpected sneeze, I blurted, “I miss my baby!” and began to sob.

A year or so later, I was teaching college theatre and we’d begun to delve into method acting. One of my students asked how I would approach a particularly violent role. I was about to give my standard “I’ve-never-had-those-feelings” response when the image of someone molesting my child flashed across my mind. The words knotted up in my throat and my hands began to shake. Because what had immediately accompanied the first image was a second image of me slowly roasting the molester over that campfire in Georgia.

I was never the same after that. Not only did I have a second, miraculously perfect baby (Beth), but other people’s children began to improve considerably. Each had a face shaped like hope. And a name. And an exquisite spirit. There were, I suddenly realized, exactly as many souls in the universe as there were persons. And every one of them had a father. And even if some had never felt the love of their father, each was loved by the ultimate Father, the one the rest of us are modelled on.

So who are we to love them less?

Parenthood doesn’t make us violent. But it does make us fierce. And fiercefully forgiving. Or it should. (Mentoring has the same effect, by the way, so even if you’re not an official parent the principal applies). If it hasn’t had that effect on you, have a look under the hood and see if some cheap knock-off parent parts have been installed in place of the ones from the Manufacturer. Then institute immediate repairs and get back to learning how to love…

Fiercely!

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Fierce Love

  1. dougdial says:

    Excellent thoughts on parenting right there.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. ejstoo says:

    Just don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re perfect. Part of parenting and loving kids is also teaching them right from wrong and you need to sometimes take control for their safety and well-being. Parenting, I’m sure, is the most rewarding and most challenging job out there. Teen years can be particularly challenging 😉

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Oh, this is exquisite! (I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before. Ever.) Just exquisite!

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Caroll says:

    Beautiful evocative expression of fatherly love! I have never given birth, so I don’t know the protective parent feeling firsthand, but you conveyed it perfectly. All children should have that fierce love from both parents.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. rwfrohlich says:

    I would kill to protect my children (even though the younger of the two turns 50 today). Thankful to have the Lion of Judah as my protector.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. THIS is so beautiful!! Our daughter is expecting her first child and our first grandchild. I’m sending this to her. She and her husband will love it. I think it probably describes them perfectly now and gives them a powerful perspective of what to expect with their first little precious baby.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. As a parent and grandparent, I can say with some confidence that you nailed it, Mitch.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Delighted to get this. Fierce is the right word. A Lion is the right image. Fatherhood is almost indescribable. But, you did it.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. simba frank says:

    When the daddy instincts kick in

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Beautiful piece, Mitch. Fatherhood often makes the man.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. A very moving personal essay!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. K.L. Hale says:

    I love this post fiercely!!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Such a good word for Father’s Day, Mitch. Yesterday at church we sang “Reckless Love,” about the extremes the Lord has gone to out of His love for us. There are a few lines that just give me chills:
    “There’s no shadow You won’t light up, mountain You won’t climb up, coming after me.
    There’s no wall You won’t kick down, lie You won’t tear down coming after me.”
    Belated happy Father’s Day!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. This is really powerful, thank you for sharing, so eloquently written.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. “Each had a face shaped like hope.” I hope and pray that I will see my grandchildren, my Sunday School kiddos, and the teens in our youth group that way. It’s a challenging thought. Thanks, Mitch.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Well conveyed. A child is the most precious gift the Good Lord entrusts to us.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. usfman says:

    A timely plea for hope to honor Father’s Day. That would apply to those fathers who stuck around and tried.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. murisopsis says:

    Wonderful post!!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. anitashope says:

    Excellent truth!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Damyanti Biswas says:

    Ah! What a beautiful post 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Nancy Richy says:

    Really quite lovely, Mitch! This whole parenting ‘thing’ is indescribable but you came so very close to giving the perfect answer. People have often looked at me as though I’m an alien creature because of something I’ve said countless times and now that your daughter is married you will probably understand what I’m saying. If not, come back to me in a couple of years and tell me you got it. It goes like this: “You never think you could love another creature in the entire universe more than you love your babies … until you become a grandparent.” These are my baby’s babies – the concept alone is mind-blowing. How is that possible? I’m afraid sometimes if I love my grandchildren any more than I already do, I will burst – yet every day I love them more. The Creator certainly knows what he – or she – is doing.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Great post! Having children changes our perspective for sure.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. joannie6535 says:

    I’ve always said that a parent undergoes a complete psychological metamorphosis within seconds after their child is born. My daughter always smiled indulgently at my whimsical notions….until her son was born.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Ann Coleman says:

    I was amazed at how quickly I fell in love with my newborn daughter. One look and I knew immediately that I would kill for her. I’ve never had a violent impulse before then, and wasn’t particularly feeling violent then, but I still knew that if I had to, I would kill to protect her.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. gpavants says:

    HI Mitch,

    It’s funny what comes out when circumstances change and we change.

    In Christ, Gary

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Pingback: Fierce Love | Restored Ministries Blog

  27. Ana Daksina says:

    I was a person who never raised my voice to anyone ~ until the day I saw a flock of wild ducks running across the grass, beaks extended, going for a bit of food in my baby’s hand. This is when I learned I can act like a mama bear!

    Liked by 1 person

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