There is Nothing Like a Daddy’s Love

I see my daughter, Gwendolyn, standing at the top of a staircase. She is dressed in a flowing white gown. Her strawberry blonde hair is swept up into teasing tresses. The aroma of fresh flowers drifts down to me. My heart is about to burst with love. It is her wedding day, and she is about to descend the stairs one last time before leaving her mother and me to start her new life and marriage.

Except that it won’t ever happen that way.

Gwendolyn has a mitochondrial disease. She can’t stand or walk. She can’t say, “I do.” Dresses are not wheelchair-friendly, especially when she wants to pull her legs up. She is nine years old, and it is likely that she won’t live to marriageable age. That’s the brutal reality I’ve had to mourn. But, even as I have let the wedding day dream die, I have discovered something greater from the heart of that dream — there is nothing like a Daddy’s love.

I can’t fix Gwendolyn. I am not going to discover the cure for mitochondrial diseases, no matter how many articles I read or doctors I meet. I can’t figure out what will motivate her to do something new in her therapy. I have no idea what tomorrow might bring for our family. But that’s OK.

There are times when Gwendolyn will only calm down if I take her in my arms and hold her close. She snuggles into my left shoulder just a certain way. At night, she needs me to sing her a hymn or two and whisper, “Daddy loves you” before she goes to sleep. Sometimes when I come home she just smiles and giggles. On fall Sundays, there is no place she would rather be than watching a Steelers game with me (before napping). I can bathe her, change her, brush her hair, and make her do her therapy. I can navigate a wheelchair, make her daily food, start her feeding pump, and administer her medications. I’m Daddy, after all. And there is nothing like a Daddy’s love.

My wife is tired. The daily grind is exhausting. I have a full-time job that pays the bills but demands my energy. Our other
children need Dad, too. I don’t know how we will pay for a wheelchair van or home modifications. I still don’t have that special needs trust in place. Our vacations are tougher, if we can take them. Life could be easier, right? But I am here to stay, for my children and my wife. They need me because there is nothing like a Daddy’s love.

My strength is sapped. I wonder what God is doing. Does God really care about what is happening to us? Then I realize I can climb into my Heavenly Father’s lap. He comforts me when no one else can. Even though I am broken seemingly beyond repair, He can fix my deepest needs. He provides our shelter, food, clothing, medicine, jobs, caring doctors and therapists, a fantastic church, and even occasional respite! If I stop to listen, through all the doubts and fears and questions, I can hear Him. He sings over me and whispers, “I love you.”

There is nothing like a Daddy’s love.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. 1 John 3:1a

(Previously published in May-June 2013 FOCUS newsletter. Some editing done here.)

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16 thoughts on “There is Nothing Like a Daddy’s Love

  1. Dads are so important. Your family is blessed to have you. And you, them.

  2. Stephanie Romero says:

    May God be your strength each and every day!

  3. Chris Gorton says:

    Sean, you are an encouragement to me to be a better father – thank you! You, your wife and family are in my prayers.

  4. Brenda Nave says:

    I am thinking of you and Gwendolyn, and all you said but don’t know what to say except thank you for writing and sharing your heart as a father and husband. You all are always in our thoughts and prayers.

  5. Paul said he had learned to glory in his “weakness”. When I am weak, then am I strong. I hear the helplessness in your words of how you wish there was something more you could do, but in our mortality and humanness, we realize we have exhausted ourself, and come to the end of our abilities, but still we “wish”, and we “pray”, but the “need” is still there, and there is only one thing left to do, and though we feel so weak, somehow, we will do the right thing, the love of God in us. We should never feel ashamed of feeling weak in some of the challenges we face. Our Lord knows. We all need to know it is alright to feel weak in the face of adversity, and to trust our Lord to somehow get us through. We are not supermen, but we have a super shepherd. Thanks for writing these words, Sean. We live in such a day when everyone thinks they should be superman, but I see just the opposite in God’s word, and there is such “freedom” in that. Carry on, brother.

  6. Stacy Riley says:

    I came upon this on Father’s Day…our son is Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy, unspecified. Thank you for reminding me of Abba Father.

  7. Kristen says:

    Lovely words. It’s wonderful she has a dad like you.

  8. Thank you for sharing your heart. You posted on my blog so I thought I would read yours. This reminds me so much of us caring for our precious son, Samuel who passed away last year with mito. My husband sounds much like you and our children are blessed to have such caring, loving fathers. We will pray for your family, we know too well the struggles that each day holds with juggling it all. May His grace pour upon you and your family.

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