Posted on Leave a comment

The Yoke of Fathering

The world is a pretty hectic place at the moment. If you’re anything like me you look at all the issues going on around the planet and you wonder if we’ll ever find some semblance of peace.

Probably not in our lifetime. So what do we do? What will help?

Maybe it’s just where I’m at right now, but I’m looking at the issues in the world today and I can’t shake the idea that most of the conflict and systematic problems could be avoided if good fathers were present.

I’m challenged by this idea. Primarily because, as a father myself, I feel pretty useless most of the time.

(I sense you arguing or getting bored with the pity party – hear me out.)

I had a fight with my wife last week. It was a parenting argument. Neither of us like fighting, and neither of us are very good at it. We’ve had to work hard at the making sure there’s a redemptive process… especially when we fight in front of our kids. Children need to see that people can argue, and they need to see that people can reconcile afterwards.

But back to fatherhood. The problem, for me at least, is that I realise there’s so much I need in my toolkit to help resource my kids for today’s world. But as I look at what I have, to me it seems pretty limited or archaic. And the task ahead overwhelms me, some days. And that’s being as honest as the light of day.

I think many men out there – whether they are fathers or not – have this thought from time to time. What’s in my toolbox? Is it enough compared to other guys? And do I have what it takes when it matters?

I see everyone trying. Myself included. It’s hard to put into words – as a man – the kind of rhetoric that goes on inside one’s head. It’s non-verbal. That’s perhaps why we communicate via other ways – gym, wheels, braais, beer, etc. (And not necessarily in that order.)

I speak to a lot of fathers (and men who stand as father figures – whether they know it or not) whose shoulders are tired. They feel like their load is just a bit too heavy. If you find yourself in some kind of quiet space with a fellow dude who feels safe with you, it won’t take him long to let you know about his neck ache.

(Cue sad violin music.)

Sigh! All us poor dudes.

I have two thoughts. The first is about yokes, and the second is about a growth mindset. (The latter I’ll get to in another blog – this blog is about yokes.)

It was only a few years ago that I first discovered the meaning of the word yoke. Up until that point it was an elusive thing other than the inside of an egg. (That’s “yolk”, for all you grammar and spelling Nazis.)

It’s a harness, usually strapped around the shoulders of an ox or a donkey. Of course, you all knew this. But for me it was a sudden thing. (Judge, if you must. But I bet you don’t know what an Intuos is without Googling it.)

So when Jesus talks about his yoke being light in the book of Matthew, it’s the first time I could conceive of something outside of his cholesterol levels.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

My atheist friends may have dialed out at this point. But my question to the dudes remains: who do share your load with? Who helps you carry your load? Who do you learn from?

I go to Jesus. I usually learn the hard way in life and end up crawling in his general direction, battered and bruised, having exhausted all my energy and useless wit. And he takes the yoke and the burden like it’s featherweight.

The proof is in the unseen quietness of honest confession and prayer. It’s a state of heart, and a surrender of will. I give over the reigns of my fatherhood (and husband-hood) to his gentle way, and eat humble pie as I learn from his heart.

And unsurprisingly, it all comes back into line. He takes our brokenness, and makes it all beautiful.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.