Today at church, our Pastor mentioned that when he taught high school sports, most of the boys treated God as they did their own Father’s. That an astonishing number of them didn’t know their Dad’s, or had a broken, painful relationship with them. Those boys thought of God as distant, uncaring, unavailable.
Our earthly Father’s inform the way we view and relate, or disbelieve, our heavenly Father. I felt sorrow for the boys he mentioned, and for the staggering number of children who grow up in broken homes. But I also smiled, because I could see exactly how my Dad informed the way I understood Christianity.
My Dad is a lot of things, and I’m sure many bloggers today are looking back to reflect on their own Father’s, whether good or absent or what have you. My Dad is a great Dad, has been for as long as I have known him. But he is also a Spiritual Leader, a servant, an extremely dedicated worker, a Patriot, a husband, a good steward, has an incredible head for numbers, finance, and for navigating the world we live in.
On several of my Birthday cards, I read the words “I held you first” in the black ink of a pen I could recognize anywhere. Apparently, he may or may not have nudged the nurse out of the way, and was the first person to hold me when I entered this world.
His voice is the one coaching me, pushing me to do better, sternly correcting me when I am wrong – corrections that I know now come from a place of love and experience. I was not the most obedient, or the most respectful as I approached my twenties. The fact that he was simultaneously so tender, loving, and commanding at the same time still marvels me to this day.
Sure, I am the third out of four, maybe he had the parenting thing figured out by the time my headstrong, sarcastic self came along. Growing up, Mom was encouraging, loving, a refuge. He was too, but in a different way. My Dad made sure I knew where I stood, where my place was in the family (which was not the main decision-maker, despite all my efforts). Above all, I am thankful for that. He stood his ground when I toed the line, time and time again, out of love. It’s an incredible kind of dance that takes grace, patience, and resolve. It has made me the person I am today.
The work ethic he taught me undeniably is the reason I have been able to stay on the farm. If I didn’t know how to, or didn’t care to, work until after dusk, or work until the project was completed, I have no idea where I would be living.
At the same time, he was home every night for family dinner, where he wanted to hear about each of our day’s, and tell us about his. Even when it made us late for plans with friends or TV shows. As hard as he worked, he knew when it was time to step away from the desk, head home, and be with his family. He rarely, very rarely, if ever, worked on the weekends. He could have made more money, had a better reputation or position within the company, and he chose to be with us instead.
I am still learning that dance, to be committed, work hard, and get the projects done. But also know when to step away, to rest, to enjoy family. To say no to a bigger paycheck, because there is something more important on the other side. It is especially hard here on the farm, where projects and chores are a part of daily life. When things break and animals get loose and it doesn’t go as anticipated.
There is no way any of this would have been possible without my Dad being a strong Spiritual leader. He drove us to church every Sunday, to Youth Group, to prayer meetings and baptisms. We wore matching shirts the day I was baptized, he was standing on stage with me as I spoke my testimony aloud. He read us scripture, taught us to memorize it, and hosted more Bible Studies than I can remember. Deacon, Elder, Nursery Worker, he leads by serving.
He didn’t, and doesn’t, do these things out of obligation. His life was completely changed by Jesus Christ, and he has not been the same since. We understood reverence at a young age. We learned the sobriety of taking communion, it wasn’t a ritual, it was real. He lived, and continues to live that out each day.
My Dad is a Math teacher, a mechanic, a banker, a veterinarian, a chauffeur, a Doctor, a landscape artist, grill master, and as he called his father, a Mr. Fix-it Fox. We would lay broken toys needing glue on his desk, the next morning my toy horse or my brothers wooden derby car would be brand new again.
How do you say thank you to someone who has done all that? How do you fit that in a card, and send in the mail? To the man who has made me who I am, and will continue helping me navigate life, I am proud to call you my Dad. I love you, Happy Father’s Day!