One of my favorite hymns as a kid was “I am Child of God.” Singing this song always comforted me, even though I didn’t really understand what it meant back then. But I always felt the warmth of being home when I sang this song, no matter where I went. Recently, I taught it to my kids, and I understood more clearly what it meant for me.

It was a song to my parents, asking them to “lead me” and to “guide me” in this life so I can live with my Heavenly Father again someday. And whenever I hear my kids sing it, I am reminded that it is my responsibility to teach them correct principles so they can return to their Eternal Father someday. The best father I could learn from is Heavenly Father and the only way to learn from Him is to draw closer to Him. Fatherhood helped me do that.

Fatherhood helped me understand Heavenly Father’s love for all His children

When I think about Heavenly Father sacrificing His Only Begotten Son to save all His children, I cannot comprehend how hard it must have been for Him. But fatherhood gave me a little glimpse of that feeling— of being willing to sacrifice something for my children’s welfare. Fatherhood taught me that there is no sacrifice too great, and no obstacle too hard that a father cannot do or surpass for his child.

My children’s joys also became my joys, and their sorrows my sorrows. My prayers became more focused on my best desires for them. I became more selfless and giving. My life became less about me and more about my children.

Having experienced this, I came to know how much Heavenly Father loves me, and all His children, and how much He’s willing to sacrifice to see His children come home again. My heart is continually filled with an overwhelming, almost unfathomable, love for my children. And if I feel this way now, how much more can an Eternal Father feel for all His spirit sons and daughters on both sides of the veil.

Knowing how much He loves me has helped me to come to know Him better. I am more comfortable seeking His counsel when I struggle as a father, because I know that He understands perfectly what I am going through.

Fatherhood taught me to be patient like Him

When I was still single, I thought I was already a very patient person. But when I became a father, I realized that my patience was not quite as developed as I thought yet. I guess fatherhood introduces men to our unrealized potential, and challenges us to grow.

Fatherhood is a journey of endless  patience—when the kids throw a tantrum, when they insist on what they want, when they purposefully spill their milk on the floor, when they refuse to listen, when they begin to grow up and think that they don’t need your guidance because they’ve got it all figured out, etc. These experiences have, and continue, to shape my life, and I cannot help but think about the extent of Heavenly Father’s patience towards all His children. He has many children and a good portion of them disobey Him. Some even believe He doesn’t exist. But He loves them anyway. His patience towards all His children is the perfect example for every father to follow.

So whenever I scrunch my forehead over spilled milk or a tantrum, I can think of how Heavenly Father would react to such a situation. Constantly reminding myself how patient He is as a father helps me to re-pattern my fatherhood style to His—the One who never gives up on His children no matter how stubborn they can be. Having Him as a role model draws me closer to Him as I still seek inspiration on how to become a father like Him.

Fatherhood gave me a glimpse of how much He’s willing to forgive

When my children make mistakes, they ask forgiveness by saying, “Sorry, Daddy.” Sometimes, I forgive them right away, but oftentimes, I first ask them what they did wrong and why they did it. I then try to teach them the lesson behind their action, and why it was wrong. After this type of conversation, everything feels great again. Through these countless conversations I have had with my children, I have come to understand more clearly how much Heavenly Father is willing to forgive His children when they ask for sincere forgiveness, no matter how great the mistakes they have made.

Knowing how much he’s willing to forgive has drawn me closer to Him as I have asked forgiveness for mistakes I have made and the times I have fallen short of being the father He wants me to become.

Out of all the blessings I have received from fatherhood, the greatest is coming closer to Him as I have come to better understand the extent of His love and patience for all His children, and his willingness to forgive those come back to His fold.