We can all think of times in our lives when we needed our fathers. When I struggled on a big test at school or when someone made fun of me on the playground, I went to my dad for support. His response was always comforting, and I would stop worrying. When I was really young, I couldn’t wait for my dad to get home from work. I would sit down next to him on the couch and tell him about my day.
I’ve had similar experiences with my son, Paul. He’s 27 now, but we shared many moments as he was growing up, whether it was after a tough baseball game or a challenging day at school. We still do, as we’ll often talk when he’s had a difficult day at work. And as his father, I constantly worry about him, even more so in the years since his mom passed away.
Recently, I’ve been particularly anxious about Paul’s trip to Europe. (He departs later today.) He is about to start a new job and is taking some time off beforehand. He works in the finance industry, so needless to say, his career involves long hours and quite a bit of stress.
He needs this break before he jumps into what will likely be an even more demanding job. Along with some friends, he planned a two-week trip to Europe and will be traveling to Greece and Croatia. I’m thrilled for him, but I’m nervous. I always worry when he travels by plane, but this will be his first trip to Europe without me going with him, and that’s making me more nervous than usual. For part of the trip, he will be with large groups of people, so the risk of contracting Covid is higher, which is adding to the anxiety.
Despite knowing that God hears and answers our prayers, I have not been able to shake my feeling of nervousness about Paul’s trip. I keep thinking of all the things that could go wrong so I pray to Jesus about it, but then I get nervous again.
While I was saying yet another prayer, I thought about God being our Father – our Dad. The Holy Spirit then reminded me of a text Paul sent me just yesterday: “Thanks, Dad! I can take the lashing later but kinda need my dad right now!!”
The context of the text was that Paul had some cosmetic dental work done two days ago — before his big Europe trip. I didn’t think the timing of the procedure was a good idea — just before a long trip out of the country — and I told him so on numerous occasions prior to the procedure! But he chose to disregard my advice and went ahead with it.
He told me the dentist had assured him the procedure was very simple, and there would be no pain or problems afterward. Well, despite those assurances, Paul was experiencing some complications yesterday. In his text, he was thanking me for telling him that I would pray for a safe trip and asking me to ease up on the “I told you so” lecture. He needed my compassion and support. His text brought tears to my eyes, and I realized that sometimes I have to remember to still be a dad.
And then, I suddenly realized that’s also what I need right now. I kinda need my dad! I need to turn this over to my Heavenly Father, to trust in him to keep Paul safe (and without any further complications from the dental work).
Just like Paul turns to me when he needs help, and just like I used to turn to my dad when I needed reassurance, I realized that I need to turn to God in times of stress. And when I finally did, the most remarkable thing happened. My Father in Heaven said to me: “I’ve got this. Don’t worry about it. He’s going to have a good time.” And with that, my anxiety went away. I stopped worrying because God told me everything was going to be ok.
In the Gospels, Jesus encourages us to have childlike faith, where we place complete trust in him. I think he was gently reminding me of that with my reaction to Paul’s trip. When we’re facing a challenge or are worried about something, we can turn it over to our Heavenly Father with total trust, and he will say, “I’ve got this.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Paul E. Tupper II, a native of Greenwich, graduated from St. Mary High School in Greenwich and spent his career in public accounting at KPMG LLP in New York. His father, the late Deacon Paul Tupper, was assigned to St. Clement Church in Stamford and later St. Mary Church in Greenwich.
By Paul Tupper