Women Of Reverence welcomes Vinni Dlamini as a guest blogger for Fathers Day Month.
Vinni Dlamini is married to Sarah Dlamini and together have two children (a son and daughter).
Vinni knows that he is loved by God and that has made all the difference in his life. Fueled by this love he husbands and fathers with compassion and integrity. He is a student of culture and social theory and to this end is currently working on a doctorate in the field. He loves to write and he writes what he likes.
I am not an idea or an abstraction to my kids. I exist as a three-dimensional psychological picture to them. That means that for the most part I am a predictable interactive living being. For my kids this is an unquestioned status quo. They’ve never known anything other than this reality.
Please note how I haven’t assigned any value status to my parenting, brilliant or otherwise. This state however is an immense privilege enjoyed by few. I count myself in the scores of many who didn’t enjoy such a privilege. In fact, until I met Jesus, I had to contend with the consequences of never knowing my biological father.
This three-dimensional paradigm suggests that there is enough raw material to build with if we are to consider what Fatherhood can look like beyond abstraction. A model if you will that sets a lighthouse for those of us still grappling with the indelible crevices of an absent exemplar.
It is my intent to move this idea from the esoteric to the practical, from the ethereal to the theological. How can this be done other than in the personhood of Jesus. We are too well and familiar with the uber perfect example that is God our heavenly Father. The cost of his gaze and the magnitude of his redemption! But in the person of Jesus lies the assurance that we ourselves through the power of the Holy spirit can reflect this very essence of God.
Let me make my case: in keeping with the numeric preoccupation of threes. My communion with Jesus has manifested itself in many, three to be sure. These in turn have influence the way I co-parent with Sarah as a father, to varying degrees of success! We are on this side of eternity after all.
Strength of conviction.
The idea that from everlasting to everlasting the triune God exists, unmoved and unchanged by time, is an encouraging thought. Un-swayed by the changing tides, has no need to fit our framework of existence. This is not a callous indifference my friend. He works in and through human history. Entreats us to partner with Him in his eternal cosmic creative masterpiece of epic proportions. He was so convinced of this, that temporal death became a mere curtain to the grandeur of what is truly at work in this world of ours. Jesus walks this earth as a living embodiment of this conviction, willing to disrupt oppressive yet accepted religious and societal norms. Jesus does not flout these norms for the sake of being different, on the contrary, He is showing the way of the kingdom. A way predicated on invitation, inclusion and freedom. This means that I endeavour to invite my kids into the inner workings of my heart and mind for clarity and understanding, include them in the dispensation of our moral framework and as hard as it might be for some of us black fathers, allow them the freedom to negotiate the bounds of our moral and ethical framework. In doing so the conviction becomes theirs as well.
A living and evolving experience of Love.
Almost 20 years ago I walked away from a single supernatural encounter with God fully convinced that I am a valued and loved image bearer of Yahweh. This blessed assurance has remained with me through some of the toughest seasons of my life. Seasons drenched with guilt, doubt and even self-loathing. I have always known that God loves me as statement of empirical fact. My engagement and experience of this blessed assurance have however evolved over the years. As I mature as a believer and as my theology matures my understanding and depth of this love has grown. Despair has matured to lament, tantrums to enduring praise, self-obsession to reordering of loves. All of this to say, Jesus’s careful discipline has expanded the borders of my comprehension to fill every season. Love doesn’t look like one thing; it is as varied as the experiences I have garnered in all these years. And so, I endeavour, with the long-suffering help of my dear wife, to have a maturing expression of love and affection towards my kids that is in keeping with their biological and psychological maturity.
What is astounding to me about Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane is the historical record of this poignant moment. One of two things potentially happened in order for this to be recorded for posterity, either Jesus told his disciples, or they witness a portion of it. Categorically one of the most private and significant moments Jesus has with his Father is not hidden from history. Jesus at his most vulnerable, aside from crucifixion, is negotiating the implications of the sheer brutality of what is about to happen to him in the physical and the seismic reparational shift in the spiritual. There are tears, blood and sweat. There is a defining honesty with which this moment is recorded in the gospels. If I can, with your permission, miniaturise this moment for our purposes, vulnerability is the cornerstone of all meaningful relationships. Especially, but not restricted to, when it comes to parent child relationships. Traditionally this has been the purview of mothers (a topic for another day). Fathers, our children begin to trust us people and our authority as parents when they begin to see those parts of us that are “works in progress”. There is integrity in our counsel precisely because we don’t have it all together. Otherwise why would they need Jesus.
I’m deeply grateful that my children assume my three-dimensional presence in their lives, that I am there and will always be there as long as I live. But this is the foundation upon which I labour with integrity and humility to steward a living and evolving relationship dynamic that will free them to soar further than I ever will.