The Decision at the Door
- By Mark Hartfiel
My brother and I are best friends. We have spiritual conversations and life conversations all the time. But sometimes we just argue about Steph vs. Lebron, and I have to remind him who has three of the last four rings and who has KD on his team!
I still remember one of these life conversations a few years back. After racing past his wife and kids again to go straight into his office and close the door after a long day of work, his wife sat him down. In essence, she told him if you are going be on a work call, just don’t come home until you are done. You are sending a message to our kids that work is more important than them. Boom! It hit him square between the eyes, and that’s when he called to chat. We talked for a while and came up with a simple resolution. Before you get out of the car each day, decide what kind of husband and father you are going to be when you walk through the door to your home. This was one of the original seeds that God planted in my heart that eventually led to The Door - The Power of Presence.
The Door is a short film that enters into a daily decision point for men. It shows the dynamic impact a father can make to his entire family with a simple choice. The video reminds men of their incredible vocations as husbands and fathers to bring joy into their homes.
Good men, who sacrifice and work so hard to provide for their families are faced with what has been called “the daily drama of fatherhood.” These are good men who love God and who love their families. On one hand, men are called to be providers. On the other hand, nothing replaces a man’s loving presence and relationships with his wife and children. Between these two great callings exists a daily tension that so many modern men face.
The reactions and feedback to The Door have been overwhelmingly positive.
- “God knows I've been the guy in the first half of the video all my life. I own my own law firm and all the excuses and all the neglect—that’s been me. I've watched it a few times now and still can't keep a dry eye throughout. This is a magnificent piece and more important, more timely, and more meaningful than any other single video I've seen in my life.”
- “Wow!!!!! I am moved, inspired, and motivated, not to mention convicted, by this amazing video.”
- “Holy crap. Talk about gut wrenching. Talk about being hit between the eyes.”
- “You need to get this video out…to everybody! When can we share this??”
- “Are your kidding me???!!!!! I’m making it my personal mission to get the eyes of as many men as possible on this video! Count on me!”
- “THANK YOU!!!! WOW!!!! I am responding to you through my tears. That video is incredible and needs to be seen by EVERY MAN!!! That was me—chasing the dream. How many brothers do we all know who are victim to that life?”
- “What an incredible video that will hopefully inspire fathers to understand their calling!!”
- “Chills, again, just watching this.”
- “Amazing! I am teary eyed as I watch this video and am touched by the Holy Spirit! I cannot wait to share it with every man I know.”
- “I will share with entire network as well as with family and friends.”
- “This video could not have been more timely. My wife and I were discussing how best to give to the Church. One door was closed, and we were considering where we should focus, and I open this email and watch this video. We were both in tears at the answer. The Domestic Church is where we need to focus.”
- “Masterful! Just masterful! A beautiful and powerful message.”
When grown men are reduced to tears, you know you have struck a cord. At the depths of our identity as men, we are both sons and fathers. Saint John Paul II proclaimed that men are called to “reveal and relive on earth the very fatherhood of God.” Now that is some pretty deep stuff. I really believe the video touches this depth, this sacred place within the heart of each man, whether he knows it or not. This is the place the emotion is coming from. Like God the Father, we just love our children so much. We would give them anything, right!? Sometimes we just need to be reminded that they need our time. They need our friendship. My good friend sent me a text out the blue the other day right before the launch of The Door that simply said, “Children spell love, T-I-M-E.” Amen!
Let's take an even deeper look. If men are called to reflect the very fatherhood of God then we should contemplate the mystery of God. Every other religion on earth is man seeking God. Christianity is the exact opposite. Our God comes seeking after us! Our God pursues us, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In the Incarnation, he, so-to-speak, leaves his world behind. He leaves his throne in the heavens and makes a true decent. He comes down to our level. But he doesn’t stop there, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). Our God meets us wherever we are at; sinner or saint. He enters into our sorrow and cares deeply for our souls. He is as intimate as he is infinite. “And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it” (Luke 19:41). And we all know how the story ends. He freely lays down his life for us at the Cross: "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again...” (John 10:18).
So here is the million dollar question: Why? Why does God go to such extremes? My proposal to you is simply this: to give us his abiding presence. The Father has an infinite desire to be with his children. The gift of Creation, the gift of the Incarnation, the gift of Heaven itself are all gifts of his presence! The gift of Baptism, the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit are all gifts of his presence within us! This is the all-consuming desire of the Father!
God's abiding presence is the most powerful force in the world. Men! Women! Parents! Your abiding presence in your home, if lived well, has the potential to be the most powerful force in the world because “the future of the world and the church pass by way of the family” (JPII). Some people have asked what we wish to accomplish with this video. If thousands upon thousands of fathers spend more time with their children and every day bring the love and joy of the Lord into their homes, then I’m happy. God wins! That’s all we want. We desire to spread it far and wide and then let God work in the hearts and minds of his people. It’s really this simple, I want your family to experience more joy. More smiles, more laughter and more joy.
Each day as we walk through the door we have a definitive decision point: in literally the first ten seconds, what kind of husband and father am I going to be? Pope Francis has asked parents on multiple occasions to “waste time with their children.” Do you waste time with your children? With your spouse?
That is one decision I promise you will never regret.
About Mark Hartfiel: Mark currently serves as the Vice President of Paradisus Dei. He is the author of The School of Nazareth - A Spiritual Journey with St. Joseph and co-author with his wife, Katie, of Totus Tuus Totally Yours: 33 Day Preparation for Marian Consecration for Teens.