During the recent blizzard that befell the state of Virginia—a storm that dumped about three feet of snow on the little hamlet of Front Royal—our house lost electric power for hours at a time. The children excitedly hunted down the emergency flashlights and prepared for nighttime with their new trusted, illuminating friends. As dusk waned, however, the novelty of flashlights wore off, as it dawned on the children that they would be sleeping in the dark. Ten minutes after Lisa and I put the children to bed, my little two-year old daughter Immaculata called me from her bedroom, and whimpered, “Daddy, I’m scared.” I went into her room, gave her a hug, and assured her that I would protect her, reminding her: “I’m with you, Immaculata. I’m watching over you. Nothing bad will happen to you tonight.”
Whatever bogeymen haunted her thoughts were no match for her Daddy. The nighttime world of shadows and gloomy uncertainty were overcome by the knowledge that her Daddy was in the next room, ready to dispel any unwelcome visitors, seen or unseen. As I relate this story, keep in mind, I have no delusions of grandeur. I have no special powers of defense beyond that of mortal man. I have no heroic ability. I have one qualification that made Immaculata feel safe, and only one: I am her Daddy, and that’s a pretty big deal.
I was once in her shoes (or slippers, as the case may be). I still remember dozing off to sleep as a little boy, hearing my dad in the next room, whether talking to my mom, doing some carpentry, or playing the piano. Whatever my dad was doing, he was there in the house; and with him there, nothing bad would happen to me tonight.
What I didn’t realize as a little boy, and what most little children don’t realize, is that their daddies have times they feel scared, too. Some bogeymen are real. They may not lurk in closets or under the bed, but they manifest themselves in other ways, as when their children are sick, when their jobs are insecure, or when the home schooling falls behind. Sometimes, the financial monsters seem so big against defenseless paychecks. Sometimes the bogeyman whispers to daddies to give up—that they can’t do it all anymore. Yes, Daddies get scared, too. And yet, we fathers have to be the rock of stability. We are expected to be superheroes at times when just being mild-mannered men seems a struggle.
In the 1978 movie version of Superman, there is a scene in which damsel-in-distress Lois Lane falls helplessly off a tall building to her seemingly certain death. As she screams in terror, Clark Kent quickly changes into Superman garb, flies up to Lois, holds her and says, “Don’t worry, I’ve got you!” Lois responds with a very natural question, crying out: “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?” Superman responds with a look of supreme confidence that says to her: “I know you’re worried, but the truth is—you’ve never been safer in your life.”
Immaculata never asked Lois’ question, but she would have every right to ask. “Who’s got you?” With all the troubles we fathers have in this life—this vale of tears—why don’t they ask: “Who’s got you?”
Maybe it is because they already know, or at least sense, the answer, because there is an answer to the question. The reason that we can look in our children’s worried eyes and answer with confidence just as Superman did is because we fathers know the answer too.
“Who’s got me?”
“God has me.”
That is the secret of our strength; that is the source of our strength: God has me.
Of course, there are ways that we can get closer to Him. None of us fathers seems to have much time, but we can all incorporate three things that take about ten minutes each that will bring us much closer to Jesus: Confession, Adoration, and the Rosary.
Sin pushes God away, but sacramental Confession brings Him closer to us. In one glorious moment, a lifetime of sin can be absolved, and God is always close to a repentant heart. Make monthly confession a habit, and you’ll discover that peace becomes a habit.
Take a few minutes each day, or at least a few times a week, to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament and tell Jesus your troubles. Sanctifying grace makes us friends with Jesus, and this friendship was purchased by Him at a great price. Time spent with Jesus is quality time.
Spend time in the Rosary asking Mary to help you glorify her Divine Son. Leading the family Rosary is a reminder to the children where your strength really comes from.
In these times of war, financial hardship, and other forms of uncertainty, life has been coming at us pretty fast. But instead of letting things overwhelm us, let’s pray for the grace to “walk by faith, not by sight.” Let’s take a few minutes to think about all those times that worried us before, and yet, God was with us, and He helped us overcome them. Those difficulties were no match for a loving God, and neither are the difficulties we have now. Jesus is holding us faithful Christians to His Sacred Heart, and gently whispering to us, “I know you’re worried, but you’ve never been safer than you are right now.”