You are not your gift

I don’t invest much time reading magazines, certainly not as much time as I should. But I have read Marvin Olasky’s interview with singer, songwriter, and author Michael Card. I’ve read the interview at least three times because there is one segment of the interview that haunts me, warns me, and motivates me as a father.

At one point in the interview Card is asked about his song, “Underneath the Door.” I was not familiar with the song so I went online and found this video:

In the interview Olasky asks Card about this song:

Marvin Olasky: You mentioned somewhere that as a small boy you saw very little of your father. He came home from practice, closed himself in his study, and you would push drawings and other things under his door to try to get his attention. Did it work?

Michael Card: No, it didn’t, actually. I wrote a song called ‘Underneath the Door.’ I grew up eating supper at 8 o’clock because my mom would wait for my dad. In those days when the father would come home the kids would come to the door and greet him. My kids don’t do that with me; they just sort of look up from their video games and say, ‘Oh, you’re home.’

MO: You were the designated dad-bringer.

MC: My family would always send me to go get my dad, and I had to get his attention somehow, because he was locked away in his study. But he was a phenomenal person, my father. The older I get the more I appreciate him. He was a good man.

MO: That sounds frustrating.

MC: It was frustrating. One of my major themes is that you are not your gift, and my father thought he was his gift. He thought that medicine was all he was, so when he was forced to retire he died a few months later. He could not imagine living without being a doctor.

Card’s song and this interview haunt me as a father. They cause me to rethink my own parenting. I don’t have an office door, but are there ways in which my children are locked out of my life? Am I accessible to them? Do I assume that my gifts and calling are more important than the time I spend with my children? In the time I spend with my kids, am I focused on them, am I listening, am I entering their world or do I require them to enter into my world? Do my children get my attention easily? Do they get my full attention? Can I unhitch my mind from all my other duties when I am with them? Do I think of myself as a child of God ultimately or do I think of my value in terms of my gifts and calling and output? All important questions that this interview raises in my own mind.

5 thoughts on “You are not your gift

  1. wow. i get a similar feeling when i listen/think about some of the lyrics in cat’s in the cradle

  2. Heartwrenching. I’m glad that Michael Card has found healing, but I hope no father who reads this interview thinks that means it’s okay to keep locking his own kids out.

  3. Like you Tony I had to ask myself these same questions. I recently started school again looking to get my Bachelors. With my work load at work, school and church I was finding out my home life was lagging. Numerous times my son would come up to me and ask “Today can you play with me?” It really hit a chord after the third day. In the next session I have pared down my classes so that I do not miss another moment with my kids again. I will be in school longer but it is worth the sacrifice while my kids are still young and want to sit in the floor and play with me.

  4. It is a fine line we walk as parents, constantly struggling to keep ourselves current with our children, handling incessant responsibilities that do not wait for you. As a mother I was given a great privilege to be home with my little ones. A privilege I never took lightly. But with that privilege came sacrifice…their father worked hard and long hours to keep the family together. And then back to school to better himself so, yet again, the family could keep afloat. When that little boy or girl looks up into your face and asks for just a little time to play with you…your heart breaks…because you are torn between handling ‘life’ or taking a moment with them. One of my biggest regrets lies within that very thing. Did I take the moments as they came? Or did I feel stuff had to be handled instead. When asked, my advice has always been to make time…there is nothing more important than giving precious time to your little gifts from God himself. This time is fleeting…I know from experience.

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