I’m not quite sure when I started singing to Ethan on a regular basis. Perhaps it was the time I saw my wife Julie sing a high-pitched silly song to him and watched his face light up with a smile.
Now I sing for him all of the time. When I’m changing him. When I’m dressing him. When I’m bathing him.
When we knew that we were going to have a baby, I thought it would be great to sing for him. Then my mind came up completely blank with appropriate songs.
I used to lead worship in church. I’m a creative guy. I can do this: right?
With my mind empty and nothing planned, I just look Ethan in the eyes and start singing whatever comes to mind. Sometimes I make up my own lyrics to popular songs. Sometimes I make up lyrics to songs that aren’t so popular, with the chicken dance tune coming in handy for “lyric creation” on the fly.
Other times I’m rocking him to sleep, singing a little song I made up for him around the time he was born.
When he won’t fall asleep and wiggles in my arms in the still of the night, I sing one of the few hymns I’ve held onto. The last verse of Come Thou Fount is particularly moving for me.
Don’t we all feel that pull to wander, to put ourselves first, and to forget that we have a God who loves us dearly and who longs to hold us close?
I snuggle Ethan close to me, wrapping him around me so he can’t plank.
Prone to plank, Ethan, I feel it…
When I’m singing a made up song, such as my own version of a Johnny Cash chorus “You’re gonna cry, cry, cry,” or a hymn, I remember that anxious father who didn’t think he’d have anything to sing. How we underestimate ourselves.
And that underestimating makes so much sense to me as a writer, as a creative, as a father. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at my estimating abilities since I’m terrible at math to begin with. Toss in a dose of self-doubt and insecurity, and you’ll spend your evenings wandering dark hallways bored and lonely with frustration bristling off your lips.
Start singing. That’s the only rule.
Whether your faith is cold and struggling or you can’t figure out what the next sentence will be for your blog post.
You can get there, but you need to start singing.
Doubt only has power so long as you’re silent and immobile.
Faith is that leap into the dark uncertainty where we start singing not because we believe we can make a beautiful song when we start but that something beautiful will eventually come if we leap in.
Sing to God, and he just may show up.
Sing while you hammer out that draft and you might write a few sentences that strike you silent.
Sing to your child, and he may drift off to sleep with a faint smile that creeps out behind his gently pulsing pacifier.
I’m celebrating the release of my book First Draft Father this week by sharing select chapters. It’s a compilation of an online journal that I kept after the birth of our first child, and it documents my journey from insecure, overworking writer to over-tired but over-joyed father.
Read more in First Draft Father.
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