God’s been teaching me a lot over these last few months, through both free agency and fatherhood.

I wrote about those free agency lessons a couple of weeks ago, but basically I learned not to put my faith in other people. This has been a hard-learned lesson, since I’m a self-identified people pleaser. Somehow I had the idea that if people were pleased with me and my performance on the field, then I would feel great about the final result. As I now know, that’s not always the case.

But free agency isn’t the only thing God is using to break me of this people-pleasing mentality. He’s also using my experience of being a dad.

I have a 15-month-old son, and he’s the most calm, cool, collected toddler you can imagine. But he’s still a toddler. And I’m learning that kids of that age do what they want, when they want, whether you like it or not.

Here’s what I mean. Toward the end of last season, my wife and son went to Africa for a wedding. When they returned after 10 days away, I figured he’d greet me with his same old lovable smile. Boy was I wrong. Instead, I was greeted with tears, tears, and yes, more tears. Not tears of joy, mind you: tears of terror. The terror of a young child who is either being abducted or being forced to go to the pediatrician.

I came to find out later that this separation anxiety is totally normal for a kid of his age. But for the time being I was devastated, trying frantically to do anything and everything imaginable to make my son like me again. Needless to say, nothing magical happened. It just took time.

Fast forward to today, and we’re going through another one of those phases. One moment I pick up my son and he smiles, and the next moment he doesn’t want me to even touch him. As any parent will tell you, this kind of thing is hard. But I think God is teaching me something in it. He’s teaching me that no matter if I feel loved back, I must love. And no matter if my son “likes” me or not, I’m still his dad, and that’s not going to change.

That’s because our relationship is deeper than emotions and outbursts. And love is always better than like. Like is temporary and changing. Love never fails. It’s that love I hold on to when things don’t look like they’re going my way. I know God loves me and is using every tough situation to mold me and grow me into who he made me to be. And he’s doing the same for you.

So the next time that tough situation comes your way, whatever it is, don’t be too eager to get out of it. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.