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The Father Factor: Dad’s Do Make a Difference!

“How did it go?” It was a simple question from my loving wife. Before I could get any words out, tears started rolling down my face. It was too small a question to draw out this type of response, but I had just discovered a new level of fatherhood.

It was a blistering 112 degree day in Phoenix, AZ. We were in our first year living in a new place, trying to find our way. Our 7-year-old daughter came up to us with excitement exploding from her little body.

“Daddy, Daddy, look I have a loose tooth and one growing in behind it! I am so excited to lose my first tooth! “

With this newfound information, we celebrated with her then quickly realized  we needed to find a pediatric dentist! We were aware from the dentist in our last hometown that some teeth needed to be extracted to allow for new adult teeth to grow in and now it was a priority! So, as any parent would do, I began checking our in-network providers to find one close to our home and quickly scheduled a visit.

After filling out all  the paperwork and getting x-rays, we were seated in the waiting room.  Sitting there, I took in the sight of busy employees and my daughter smiling ear to ear, so excited to tell someone else about her tooth!

I was anticipating a magical moment when the dentist walked  in the waiting room. I envisioned him greeting my daughter with wonder as he shared this thrilling moment with her. I knew my daughter would overflow with glee once again. Instead, he  directed all  his conversations to the employees, not once acknowledging me or my overly excited child.

From my perspective, I was confused. We were new patients and he went straight into diagnosing the situation wrong because he had our daughter’s age wrong by three years. The highly protective dad in me rose to the surface as emotions started boiling inside of me. How could they  not pay attention to her age? How did he become a pediatric dentist with such a dull bedside manner? In my opinion, my daughter deserved better – much better. I honestly wanted to grab her and run but didn’t know how I would explain that action to my daughter who was still in celebration mode. I was stewing with this feeling of vulnerability and shame that I let my little princess walk into a situation that I didn’t have much control over.

Frustration kicked in as we wrapped up our visit. Despite the disappointment, we thanked them for their time and then headed home. Upon arriving at home, my daughter bolted in the door to share her joy with her mom. I made my way to the bedroom where my wife asked her simple but fateful question. I was instantly flooded with emotions of frustration and anxiety. I had potentially put my daughter in a position where her care was not put at the highest priority. I had a complete breakdown! As most Fathers would say, we are always strong right up to the moment that  we are not. When it comes to my family, I have often proclaimed, “I don’t break…” But in that moment I was broken – broken to the core.

A simple trip to the dentist turned into a downward spiral where I felt I was not stewarding our family in the right direction. Questions I had been quietly processing bolted to the surface. Was this the right move for our family? Did I make a mistake?, Am I capable of providing a life that will help them to all be happy? I felt I was not being a God honoring leader and fear crept in. It seemed like I had no control.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

(Philippians 4:6) 

My wife was sitting on our bed in complete shock and awe of what was going on with my emotional state because she knows this is not normal for me at all. As we were sitting there together, we began unpacking the intensity of all the emotions that had gripped me. Eventually we were able to pray and talk through the deeper sense of vulnerability I was  struggling with. We came to realize in that instance it had nothing to do with the dentist. It was one of those tipping points that  reminded me of  the simple, but very complex, role of being a father. A simple task, such as  taking your daughter to the wrong dental office, can ignite your senses and focus your heart. In that moment I needed to be reminded that I am no longer in control of certain aspects of my life and only God is in charge.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3) 

He has preordained plans for us, for my family, and for my daughter. Prayer becomes our greatest weapon against those anxious thoughts, those moments when we feel a little out of control. Isaiah 32:17 states that ””in quietness and confidence you shall find your strength.” In that moment, I needed to quiet my heart, quiet my mind, quiet the emotional state that I was in.

I was reminded to slow down and allow God to give me the strength to re-calibrate my perspective, re-engage with Him, and rediscover the strength through Him to lead our family. I was reminded to trust that the decision  we made was all part of God’s plan. He never promised it would be smooth, but he promises it is for our good. I am convinced that God uses moments like the dentist to bring us closer to him. He chose that moment to be a father to me, to redirect my emotions back onto him. We have celebrated our daughter and the loss of her tooth and found a dental  office that fits our family well! God used that moment to slow us down, remind us that he sees us and allowed me to put the control back into His loving hands.


Zach Farrel is husband to Caleigh, dad to three very cute kids. He serves as Assistant Athletic Director, Sports Performance at Grand Canyon Christian University and the founder of 320 Performance,  a custom athletic performance enrichment business.  In 2019, Farrel received the Gatorade Young Achievers in Strength and Conditioning award. He has also been featured as a speaker in the classroom at Louisville, at the American Baseball Coaches Association National Conference and at the Proforce Baseball Summit.. Zach is also the middle son of authors Pam and Bill Farrel, Co-Directors of Love-wise ministry

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