He carries the weight of fatherhood. Every hour. Every day.
Ever since God placed his children in my womb.
He carries them, his children, with their skinned knees and crying eyes, their limbs dangling from the cradle of his arms. He carries the memories of when they were small, when he would sing to them in the darkness while their tiny hands gripped his finger. The memories of first steps and first birthdays, when, looking back, fatherhood seemed much easier. He carries the weight of their cries for him, their endless needs and ongoing requests. And he carries the weight of the ones who went to heaven before asking anything of him at all.
He wears the armor, carries the shield, an ever-present line of defense for his children. He blocks the harsh blows of a cruel world, the sucker punches of wickedness that attempt to empty their lungs of innocence. He carries the burden of knowing that although they consider him a hero, he doesn't have the capacity to stave off every evil, to fully protect them from any and all harm.
He carries the knowledge that this world is out of his control, and that though difficult to admit, the lives of his children are too. The world turns and turns, seemingly further and further away from the God he tries to point them to. And he knows he cannot choose which way they turn.
He carries the weight of his footsteps and theirs. The weight of leading them down the narrow path, knowing there is no guarantee they will follow. His feet trudge through the mud, the weeds, the barren land as he guides them through this messy and uncomfortable life. He walks through the shadows with them, praying that even when it's scary they will continue to walk towards the light.
He carries the pressure of teaching the hard but necessary lessons, that they might one day be able to navigate this life without him. He works hard to train them up in the way they should go, but his pursuit is not without failure. They watch him, he knows, and he carries with him the pressure to be a worthy role model while knowing that sometimes he'll fall short.
He carries the weight of a leader, teacher, provider. He raises his children up even when it wears him down. He carries the weight of a father, knowing he'll never be the perfect one. And he prays they'll turn out okay anyway.
He carries the weight of fatherhood with persistence. With gratitude. With grace. He carries the endless responsibility, sacrificing without complaint.