On Paternal Love

"On paternal love" by Kayla Knaack (CatholicMom.com)

Pixabay (2010), CC0 Public Domain

When I was a little girl I used to think that the men in my family possessed some sort of MAGIC. I loved my dad and grandpa with such a fervor that the smallest word of praise could make my heart leap; I so wanted to please them. They both have a light-hearted way of loving with constant teasing and silly nicknames (I was Herman-the-Worm to my grandpa). The mere thought of disappointing my dad was enough to discourage me from misbehaving. When I did act out, the guilt of letting him down far exceeded any punishment.

I so believed in this “Schmidt Man Magic” that I was jealous of my little brother who would one day inherit the trait.

Years later, I even named my first daughter Louisa after her Papa Louie.

When we were four and five years old my cousin, a friend, and I were hanging out at Grandma Jackie’s house. In typical farmwife fashion, Grandma sent us outside to play so she could get to cooking. Apparently the two swing sets, ample yard to run around, and warm summer sun were not enough to satisfy our childish boredom. We wanted to go to my parents’ farm a half mile down the road. We devised a plan. We would walk down the road and when cars passed we would leap into the ditch (I recall being more worried about someone wanting to kidnap us adorably-sticky children than the possibility of getting hit.) We followed the plan successfully down the road. Soon enough, we found ourselves bored again. The farm had another swing set, a trampoline, and calves to look at, but we kept having to dodge out of sight of Grandpa Louie, who was doing chores. As we hid in the shade of the garage and argued in hushed voices over whether or not we should go back to Grandma’s, Grandpa Louie found us. When he discovered that we had run away without Grandma knowing, he admonished us with a red face and shaky voice; even at our young ages, we could see how much we had worried and disappointed him. After the lecture, we hopped a ride in his truck back to Grandma’s house, and he went back to being his usual jovial self.

To this day, my cousin talks about the epic spankings that he and the friend received when their parents found out about our excursion.  I myself don’t recall getting any extra punishment aside from Grandpa Louie’s lecture. I think my parents must have seen that I got the message: disappointing Grandpa wasn’t worth it.

The message carried on through my adolescence. In high school my friends would encourage me to sneak out to parties or tell my parents that I was somewhere I wasn’t, but my standard response became, “It’s just not worth it.” It wasn’t the grounding that I was scared of; it was seeing that look of betrayal in my dad’s eyes that I had lied to him.

Years later, I came to realize that my dad and grandpa didn’t actually have any special magic. What they had, though, was even more special. One of the most accessible ways that God reveals Himself to us is through the love of families, and the “magic” I experienced in my father and grandfather was their reflection of the paternal love of our Heavenly Father.

What a beautiful thing! I pray that every child can experience the presence of a loving father to mirror our Heavenly Father. I pray that every Christian can model their relationship with God towards this ideal: the deep love spurring a desire to please Him, the mere thought of disappointing Him being enough to keep us away from sin, the realization that He is always with us even when we wander away, and the knowledge that He will always take us back to where we belong.

Copyright 2017 Kayla Knaack


About Author

Kayla is a Wisconsin mom clinging to faith and humor as she stumbles through life. She and her husband are raising their three kids in a century farmhouse while also building their family business, Pigeon River Brewery. She blogs at www.kaylaknaack.com. Grab a beer and join her!

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