404 Expect The Exceptional by Tony Alicea

The Hunger of Fatherhood

Today I am a daddy of a one year old. The past year has been quite a journey for me, learning what it means to be a father. It’s been one of the most fulfilling and challenging things I’ve experienced. On Father’s Day my wife asked what it was like to be a father and I compared it to the feeling of hunger.


Fatherhood is much different from my experience with marriage. My first marriage ended in divorce so I know the feeling of permanent disconnection, even when you make a covenant. In marriage you make a choice to love someone forever. And yet our yearning for reciprocation can put conditions on our love. We open our hearts with the understanding that our partner will do the same and in the times that they don’t, things quickly get complicated.

Unintentionally we keep score. We tally happiness and fulfillment against hurts and disappointments. We compare our effort to that of our spouse. We create expectations both expressed and unspoken. We ration out our love based on the performance of the other. We withhold love when the other is deemed undeserving. At least I do.

I don’t want to do it and yet I fight the temptation to do all these things every day. I’ve longed to love purely and unconditionally in my marriage but it’s a struggle every day. I love my wife through a filter of my own hurt and disappointment.

But with my son, the experience has been so much different. I don’t have to make the same effort to love him. I actually can’t help it. It’s like a primal instinct inside of me that rises up every time I see him. I can come home frustrated from my day and one smile from him melts my heart. I can’t stay angry when he’s near me.

I can’t withhold my love from him any more than I can stop from nourishing my own body with food. Like my physical hunger, my love for my son feels as if it something required to live.

My whole life I’ve longed to become a father. Because of the lack in my own childhood, I’ve imagined how I would be different. I’ve dreamed of the things I would teach him and give him that I never received.

And now that I’m a father, I realize I’m the one receiving. Whatever I’ve done in terms of being a good father has come from this uncontrollable hunger from within. It’s less of a choice than a response to what’s inside of me. He’s an extension of me, and loving him is akin to loving myself. Not loving him would be like starving myself. Loving him is nourishment to my own soul.

Being a father isn’t as noble or benevolent as I expected. It’s raw and primal. I love my son deeply and fiercely. I want to protect and defend him from anyone who doesn’t see him as I do.

Loving my son fulfills a pang in my belly that was created as soon as my wife told me she was pregnant. This hunger grew inside of me and continues to grow each day.

Becoming a father has shown me what unconditional love is like. A love that doesn’t require reciprocation. A love that doesn’t keep score. A love that isn’t based on performance. A love that hungers to be poured out.

That Time I Stopped Tithing

I recently stopped tithing and I didn’t even feel bad about it. Mostly because both my wife and I had been unemployed so there really was nothing to tithe from. But I started my new job this week and now I’m considering if we should continue on this course of holding back the holy “tenth” […]

Continue reading...

Faith & Foolishness

At the end of the day, both my wife and I will be unemployed. At this point, I don’t know if I’m walking in faith or foolishness. Three months ago we moved to Charlotte with the goal of me leaving a job in ministry and going back into corporate America and my wife quitting her job […]

Continue reading...

What I’m Learning About Safe Faith

When you step out and take a risk with God, it’s tempting to think everything is going to happen just how you imagined. You’ve talked about it, prayed about it, presented your plan to God and subsequently felt His blessing on it. This is your faith offering so you trust that God will honor your […]

Continue reading...

When We Were United

THREE MONTHS AGO I was sitting on the couch when I looked over to Katie and said, “What about Charlotte?” I had been asking a variation of this question for the past few months. “What about Austin? What about Pittsburgh? What about Nashville?” I had no idea where to look. I didn’t even know if […]

Continue reading...

The God Of The Last Minute

Recently I’ve seen an unusually large number of people saying that God tends to speak at the last minute. And while I don’t think this is true, my actions betray my thoughts. It could be in regards to our personal lives, relationships, major life decisions or whatever. We can’t figure out what to do and […]

Continue reading...

The Power Of The Spoken Word

Most people think writers are great all-around communicators by default. But that’s not necessarily the case. Not all communication is created equal. I consider myself a pretty good communicator. Written communication always came naturally to me from a young age. My early relationships were comprised of an insane amount of note writing. My deepest sentiments of […]

Continue reading...

Are We Still Friends?

I’m terrible at keeping in touch. When I moved (for the first of three times in high school) away from my middle school best friend I promised I would write and call. We were so close and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. I did okay in the beginning. I made a couple of […]

Continue reading...

It’s Time To Go Outside

You can either be an astronomer or an astronaut. An anthropologist or an archeologist. A theologian or a living epistle. I’ve tended to be the former. It’s easy to study a subject and theorize all day without ever getting out to see it, touch it and experience it. At some point we have to put […]

Continue reading...

How Do You Measure Success?

If grace and life transformation can’t be quantified, how can Christians gauge true effectiveness? I’m so excited to announce my latest article was published in Relevant Magazine! I’m talking about our culture’s view of success and how looking at it through the eyes of the Kingdom of God flips success on it’s head. I’d love […]

Continue reading...