Apr 6, 2011

Lose The Beard

As I’ve written in the past, one of my joys in life (besides being a dad) is being a grandpa, because grandparenting is the chance for us to get it right; to reset the bar, to do it over again. Grandparents are parents who have learned to slow down and enjoy life at a slower pace. Grandchildren give us an excuse to once again be outside when it is raining and to walk through mud puddles instead of being concerned about getting wet. Grandpas get to show this new world to their grandchildren for the first time. Grandpas get to drop everything to spend time with their grandchildren instead of having to be in such a hurry. Grandpas get to buy ice cream cones for their grandchildren and not be concerned about “spoiling their dinner”.

My first grandchild, Fallon Anne Dougherty, was born Tuesday, November 16, 2010. And since the day she was born, every time I have been with her I have tried to connect with her; after all, I am her grandpa. And, every time that I would look at her or pick her up, Fallon would cry; VERY HARD and LOUD. This has caused me some hurt and sadness as I have longed to be a grandpa to this little girl. It has also been a little hard on my daughter, as she, too, wants her daughter to connect with grandpa.

One day, I realized something (isn’t memory great!). When Fallon’s mom (Elizabeth) was little, I had a beard and it seemed that whoever would pick up my daughter Elizabeth, as long as he had a beard, she would be happy. If he didn’t have a beard, she would cry. In fact, she would go to a complete stranger and be happy; as long as he had a beard. 

I had discovered the possible reason why Fallon would cry every time that I picked her up. During the five months that I play hockey, half of my games are outdoors, so I grow a beard; kind of a tradition among hockey players now that “mullets” are no longer in fashion. I keep it trimmed pretty short, but it is thick enough to keep my face warm when the temperatures are thirty below (without the wind chill factor). I should probably tell you that Fallon’s dad, Chris, does NOT have a beard. Did I just hear a light bulb go on in your head?

Fallon wasn’t rejecting me, she was trying to push away any man who was different than her dad; and her world view of dads is that they don’t have beards. Men with beards: BAD; men with no beards: GOOD; pretty simple. 

I shared this with Elizabeth, who said; “Then why not shave off the beard?” Elizabeth knew why I kept a beard for five months of the year; Fallon did not. And if I wanted to connect with my granddaughter, I needed to “empty” myself of who I was to become what she needed; a man without a beard.

There was a family gathering one week before my last hockey game was to be played. I thought about shaving my beard to a goatee; sort of a compromise, thinking that Fallon wouldn’t notice that I saved some of the beard. But, I decided that although I could justify my need to “cling” to my beard one more week, it wasn’t worth it if I wanted to connect to my granddaughter. So, I shaved it off. 

When Fallon came over, she was in her car seat and crying up a storm; she really doesn’t like her car seat. I reminded myself that for the past four months no matter how happy or sad Fallon was, she ALWAYS cried harder whenever I picked her up, but I decided to see if my non-beard face would make a difference; so I picked her up anyway. 

Joy of joy; it worked! Fallon not only stopped crying, but she seemed very content to be with me. Through the evening, whenever I held her, she seemed to be content; she even on a couple of occasions “cooed” to me in an effort to talk “baby-talk” with her grandpa. My willingness to lay down my “right” to have a beard was a success; I hadn’t lost a beard, I had gained a granddaughter.

The Apostle Paul exhorts us all with the example of his life: “to the weak I became a weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” ( 1 Corinthians 9:20-23)

And then I thought about Jesus. I will let the Apostle Paul tell in his own words as writes how Jesus was willing to let go of His rights and empty Himself to connect with us:  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)

What am I trying to communicate to you in this rant? Why hold on to things that make it hard for others to see Christ? Let them go; “lose the beard” for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; because what we really, really need is Jesus.

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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