It was six against one. Maybe seven. Another dozen watching, and I figured most of them were against me, too. But I thought it would be a fair fight. After all, I had justice on my side and my opponents were mostly girls. In the end, I think I held my own in the middle school social studies class abortion debate, with no punches landed or even thrown.

Fast forward 20 years, and I’m in hospital scrubs, holding a real, live newborn baby in my arms, and the full import of being a father hits me. Yes, it’s probably supposed to hit earlier in the process. But here I am with a wife and child, a father responsible for raising a son in a hostile culture.

What was so intimidating about being a parent? Not the regulated regime in the maternity ward followed by: “You’re on your own, buckle the kid up, and get out of here.” Eventually, we figured out what babies eat and how wet a diaper can get before it really needs changing. No, the scary part was the awful realization of self-sacrifice—as the grain of wheat must die and fall to the ground to bring forth new life, parenting requires the twofold challenge of dying to oneself and dying to the world to truly raise a child in the fullness of life. In spite of the many difficulties we see in the world today, if we are willing to turn away from unreality toward life–real living–we still find love and laughter, joy in food and song; we look up and find that all creation points to the Creator, and the smile of a child makes every sacrifice worthwhile.

I mailed a notice of our first child’s Baptism to the priest who had baptized me. He wrote back: “I’m glad to hear you are cooperating with God’s will.” Cooperating with God’s will—is that what we were doing? I had not thought of it in those terms, but of course he was right. We were cooperating in bringing a new life, an immortal human soul, into being; we are cooperating with God’s will by raising children to know, love, and serve Him above all things, a joyful embrace of Life and Truth that contrasts so sharply with the discordant unreality we see around us.

By embracing life, the mothers Room At The Inn serves are cooperators with the author of life, cooperators exalted through adversity like gold tried by the fire. What an image of beauty, the Mother and Child, drawn by the author of beauty! And what an honor it is for us to be able to share in that cooperation through the good agency of Room At The Inn. — John Zomberg

John and his wife, Rebekah, are ardent supporters of Room At The Inn. They are serving as table hosts at this year’s “A Father’s Heart” banquet. Please consider following their lead by volunteering to host a table of 10.

Photo: John with his lovely wife Rebekah and their three children