Have you read a book, or perhaps a blog, that as soon you start reading you know you not only want to read what they wrote, but you want to read what they have written? All of it. Eli is one of those authors who you can’t just stop reading. At his own blog, Coach Daddy, he deftly answers questions posed by his daughters and writes about life as an amazing dad with three amazing girls.
He’s become a friend despite our sports loyalties. I can forgive him for being a Broncos fan. I try my best to forgive him for being a Rockies fan. Therefore, I can understand why he’s a praying man. However, he no longer prays for football and baseball (usually). He’s here today to explain why.
So, without further ado, please welcome and please visit, my first blogger guest, a purveyor of prose, a soccer dad, the one and only, Eli Pacheco, the Coach Daddy.
I’ve never really asked God for anything.
Well, that’s not true.
There was the time I asked for a high-grade bacon cheeseburger. (I got it.) And once, I half-heartedly prayed for a Colorado Rockies rally (Got that one too.) And more seriously, I asked God to give all my strength to my father as he fought for his life against Leukemia (It wasn’t enough.)
As a dad, there’s a different way to pray.
In the above examples, I prayed each time for specific outcomes. One was to upgrade from the meager value menu. Another, to stave off a loss to the Houston Astros in a meaningless June baseball game (a game need not be in June for the Rockies to render it meaningless.)
As a dad, you defer a bit to a higher authority to do what’s best.
# # #
Let’s go back a little.
I learned to pray as a dad as I prayed for my dad. This past August, it had been 15 years since dad died. I had one daughter, age 3, and another three months from her birthdate. In the final weeks of my dad’s stay at Duke Hospital, my prayers changed.
When dad first got sick, I prayed, “Not now, God. I’m not ready. I’m not ready to not have a dad.”
As odds turned and prognoses worsened, I prayed, “Please God, do what you will. Either give him back to us, or take him home. But please … do it soon.”
By the final days, I prayed, “God, take him now. He’s suffered enough.”
He did, on a languid Friday afternoon. I drove away heartbroken but relieved. Dad wouldn’t suffer any more. I didn’t recognize immediately how little control I held in this whole ordeal. When I did, it marked a shift in how I spoke with God – and what I expected as a result.
# # #
Lots changed since those days. My second daughter came into this world as I recovered from my dad’s death. Four years later, we were blessed with a third daughter. Throughout, my faith underwent significant stresses. It still does, to this day.
My long-time Episcopal church closed.
I found a temporary yet never-comfortable home in the Lutheran church. I finally walked out of that church in search of God on my own. I found myself in a Buddhist meditation center. One of my first lessons centered around taking on the suffering of those around me.
Are you kidding? I’m suffering enough on my own.
Struggling to maintain strong relationships with daughters who mean the world to me. Toiling to maintain my best self to hold a relationship together. Trying my best to find my own inner peace to better cope with what life throws at me in a million other categories.
Internalizing these struggles has strengthened me to deal with the struggles that persist, and those that lie ahead.
“All my strength, God,” I used to pray when my dad fought his fight. “Give him all my strength.”
Now I hope and pray for the strength to come to me.
Not my kids?
Let me explain.
I won’t pray for an easy path for my girls. Instead, I’ll pray for just enough resistance and hardship along the way to sharpen character and strengthen resolve.
I won’t pray for easy answers for my girls. I’ll pray for situations to challenge their beliefs and galvanize their faith.
I won’t pray for my ideals for a good life for my girls. I’ll pray that they’ll see clearly the paths life presents to them, the value in detours and beauty of steps along the way of the journey.
For all this, I’ll need strength. All I can get, to help them along their way.
As a dad, that’s the way to pray.
When he’s not refusing to pay for autographs or facing his fears, Eli Pacheco writes the blog Coach Daddy. Follow him on Delicious, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and Tumblr. (He gets around.)