Being a parent is hard. Parenting a toddler is particularly hard. It’s not so much the work or being woken up in the night, or reading the same book over and over again that gets to me, though. It’s the mood swings. You can go from the high of a sweet and loving moment to the low of a defiant tantrum in the blink of an eye. There have been many nights when I’ve received both unprompted kisses and unexpected bites on the arm.
We adopted our daughter, Etta, at 18-months-old, and I was immediately wrapped around her finger. She melts my heart with her laughter. She has incredible facial expressions and a great personality. She is also very strong willed. While that has helped her overcome some obstacles in her life, it also makes her a fighter when she doesn’t want to be told what to do. Being a parent is such a unique experience. It has been one of the hardest and best years of my life. I thank God for my incredible wife who has walked through this with me. We’ve grown and learned so much in this year. I’ve learned some very good things, but I’ve also seen how I, myself, can act like a toddler towards God.
I grew up going to church so I was familiar with the idea of God as our Father. I was blessed to grow up with a great father as well. However, actually being in the role of father myself changes everything.
I imagined some things would be easier than they are. I thought when you offer your child something you know is good for them, that they would accept it graciously and thankfully. More often, you get a fight. They push back and refuse. “Thank you” has to be prompted. You ask your child to be patient because the food is hot or you haven’t quite reached your destination. They whine and kick the car seat. She can’t see what I can- that I’m trying to protect her from getting burned. We ask our kids for a little trust, and they fight us. The more I see this in my child, the more I see this in myself in my attitude towards God.
I want to make my own decisions and I want things on my own timeline. God has a better plan and sees what I can’t. God knows when I need protection and when I need to be patient. God is the perfect example of a loving and patient Father. I find that the more I reflect on how He cares for me, even in my defiance, the easier I can extend grace to my own child.
Because her story includes early life in an orphanage and adoption, I know a day is coming when Etta will have questions about her birth parents and her life before us. She will wonder why all of this happened to her. She will likely wonder if she wasn’t special enough or worthy of her birth parent’s love. Those will be very difficult questions to answer. Rachel and I will never leave her, and we even forget sometimes that she isn’t our own flesh and blood. However, we are not perfect. We feel a heavy burden, even now when she won’t fully understand, to point her to the perfect Father in heaven. We pray that she will see her earthly adoption as merely a picture of how God adopts us as sons and daughters. He is the Father who planned all of this for her good. He is the Father that made her in His own image, a special and beautiful creation. He loves her so much that He sacrificed His own Son to secure her eternity. We pray and long for the day she puts her faith in that gift and is adopted into God’s eternal family.
David Goetz serves as one of our Elders as well as a video director and small group leader. He works as a media buyer for Martin Retail Group. David and his wife, Rachel, have been married since 2015 and are the parents of Henrietta (2). He’s been a member of Brook Hills since 2004 and Rachel since 2009.