I had the opportunity to talk with my dad’s previous pastor of three decades and change today. While we were discussing how I was doing and what I was feeling he mentioned something that was terribly obvious, fitting, and surprising for me to miss… “Be thankful for the time that you’ve had with him instead of wanting more.”
Seriously, how did I miss that for a while? Over the past 24 hours or so I’ve wanted more time with him. I’ve wanted to create more memories with him. I’ve wanted to learn more from him. I’ve wanted more experiences with my family and him. I’ve wanted and wanted and wanted.
As I typed a couple of days ago, I have no regrets with my dad. I know he loves me and is proud of me just as he knows I love him and am proud of him. This is a great thing, but that doesn’t mean that all is well. My desire for more has been a huge source of pain for me over the past week.
Many months ago I mentioned that happiness is wanting what I have, not having what I want. Pastor’s words are still sinking in and I’m very much struggling to live them, but he was 100% correct. As opposed to wanting more time, more hugs, more experiences, and more memories with Dad, I need to stay focused on what I have. When I consider what I have from Dad it blows my mind and I struggle with where to start.
Dad gave me 40+ years of love, 14,686 spins around the Earth counting. During each and every single one of those days I’ve known that he loves me and he’s proud of me. Each and every day I knew he was in my corner, one of my biggest fans and coaches, protecting me from everything that he could.
My values and outlook on life come from a combination of many people, and my dad was one of the biggest contributors to them. He taught me to stay happy, positive, upbeat. Following his example I learned the beauty of helping others when I can. To give, give, and give more. To make a gift of himself for the sake of helping others.
The love I have for the outdoors was fostered by his love of the outdoors. Some of my favorite memories with him include hunting, trapping, cutting brush, and just walking outside. He was always in awe of the natural world and would spend hours of time looking at rocks to see the beauty that God had created, the miracle it took for the rock to be where it was.
His hands were always creating. Usually it was creating something with wood in his workshop, building houses, or helping people with projects. It was through my experiences with him that I learned to enjoy the wonder that is creating something using my hands and God’s gifts.
As my father he showed me how to raise my children. How to help build their work ethic. How to appreciate and encourage their gifts. How to push them to dream bigger and work harder. How to show the love that he has for us. Even as I talked with our boys last night I followed his lead.
In watching him smile and laugh I was given an appreciation for each day, each moment of life that God gives us. This was reinforced through many conversations focused on reminding me to appreciate every single day. He did his best to live by this credo and passed it on.
When I was struggling to find my way in college my dad wrote me a letter while he was in a hotel room for work. If you know my dad you know what he was not someone who liked writing. He struggled with it and wasn’t a fan (LOL – I just remembered that I also got my horrible penmanship from him!). That said, he wrote me a letter that I still have saved that explained how much he loved me, how much he believed in me, how proud he was of me, and how he would always support me. To this day that letter holds a very special place in my heart for two reasons. The emotions it conveyed were incredible and helped to shape me. The second part is that it almost read as one of my blog posts. It was this letter from him that showed me just how you could help someone, touch someone, with words or a letter. Taking the time to write about and for a person is an incredibly moving thing, both for the person writing and the person receiving the letter. His letter to me opened my heart to this concept.
In writing the points above I’d be remiss to mention one of the best gifts he gave me – how to be an incredible dad. I’m not patting myself on the back and saying that I am, it’s just that he showed me the path to fatherly greatness. I had the best dad in the world, one who always loved me and will always love me. Dad is nothing short of awesome, and he showed me how to share that awesomeness with my boys. I’ll screw it up in some ways and that’s okay, just as I’ll find ways to learn from mistakes he made. Regardless, he showed what being an excellent father really looks like.
While these words spill forth from my brain, heart, soul, and fingertips it’s funny how my attitude has already changed. Of course I will always want more, who wouldn’t? But when I can shut that off and really appreciate what I’ve had… How can I do anything but smile, be happy, and be thankful to have so much? I’ve had Dad around for so long, I’ve learned so much from him, been touched in so many ways by him, been molded into who I am by him, and have him help me mold my boys. I am so thankful for my the time I’ve had with Dad.
Dad, I love you so much. Thank you!