I’ve been thinking a lot about Joseph this season. You know…Joseph of Nazareth. The forgotten parent of Jesus. Russ Moore’s excellent blog post earlier this week both encapsulated and expanded on much of what I’ve been chewing on.
Because you see – this year more than ever – I can identify with Joseph. Not “Hey-I’m-teaching-a-deity-how-to-ride-a-tricycle” identification, but identification through adoption.
Joseph raised a child who wasn’t biologically his. He loved him. Fought for him. Protected him. Taught him. Guided him. Trained him. Prayed for him.
I’d never thought through Joseph’s experience until this year. I’ve played Joseph a few times in nativity scenes and Christmas programs. But back then, I only understood Joseph’s role as a father.
This year I understand him as daddy.
I wonder what it was like when he found out Mary was pregnant. Was he hurt? Confused? Scared? Excited? What was it like in the final days of her pregnancy? Was he preparing a nursery? Preparing his finances? Preparing his heart? How about when he held the infant king for the first time? Was he fearful? Did he feel inadequate? Did he think he’d be the best earthly daddy to that little guy?
What was it like to raise Jesus? Did he ever tell him of his conversation with Gabriel? Did he ever mention the tears he shed with Mary? Did he ever get gut-level honest and tell Jesus he wasn’t sure he was fully equipped for the task at hand?
Did it take him a few months to feel like a daddy, or did he claim that title as soon as he looked into the eyes of his son? Did he get up in the middle of the night to check his breathing? Did he sit by his crib in the morning, waiting to see chubby hands rub sleepy eyes?
Did he rush through his work at the shop so he could get home to play with his little buddy? Did he neglect household chores for a while because he was so enamored with the miracle in front of him?
Did he ever drop to his knees and thank God for picking him for the job?
I don’t know…I can’t know all of the things Joseph experienced. There’s never been another adoption situation anywhere close to his. No angel announced our daughter’s birth, no smelly shepherds attended her arrival, no Fed Ex package has arrived with myrrh.
But when it comes to being a daddy who claims and loves a child as if it were his own…I think I understand. I think this year, for the first time ever, I can say I’m standing with Joseph.