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Things My Father Gave Me

Laura and I are blessed to be part of such a wonderful church family.  We saw it again in the kind outpouring of warm regard we received this past month or so as we have mourned the loss of each of our fathers.  The notes and words of sympathy are much appreciated.  Naturally we both have been thinking a lot about our fathers.

My Dad was a rather special human being.  He gave me a lot of good things.  I want to share them with you as a way to honor him and because we can all learn from a fine example of manhood.

The first thing my Dad gave me was his love for my mother.  He loved her the day he met her on a blind date.  He came home from that date and told his Air Force buddies he was going to marry my Mom.  But much more than that, he told her he loved her every single day for the more than fifty-six years he was married to her.  His last words on earth were to whisper to my mother “I love you.”  As a kid, I took this love for granted.  I simply never feared my home disintegrating.  I never thought about it.  That kind of stable home life is a precious gift.  I knew what security was.

Second, my father was involved.  Whatever we kids were doing, he was there.  He did all the Dad-things -- sports, plays, homework, etc.  And if something needed doing he did it.  The basketball league needed a referee or a coach, he did it.  The scouts needed a leader, so he became a scoutmaster.  My brother was in the Order of the Arrow (some cool scout thing), so he did it, too, as an adult.  At the Lutheran church we attended, they needed Sunday School teachers.  Both my parents volunteered.  They needed a Sunday School superintendent; my Dad took it on.  Church was seldom missed in our house, and never for casual reasons.  An involved parent sets an example about priorities, and an attitude of servant leadership that is passed on.

Third, my Dad let me be me.  He was quite an athlete.  I knew he went to spring training with the New York Giants -- I had seen the clippings -- but it was talking to his brothers at the memorial dinner that I learned just how active in sports he was as a kid.  Sports were his life.  But he never pushed that on us.  If we were interested, he was there.  But if our interests were elsewhere, he encouraged us to follow our dreams and supported us just as if our desires were his own.  My thing was making movies, so he allowed the new family room he built on to our home to slowly become a movie studio.  He made props, while my Mom made costumes.  That freedom to be an individual meant a lot to me.

Finally, my Dad gave me freedom of another kind.  Above all else he was true to his own values.  I never saw him intimi­dated by another human being.  He was entirely comfortable being himself and holding to his own convictions.  I remember as a child having a conversation with him about alcohol.  He didn’t drink, and it was never in our home.  “If I’m with a bunch of men having drinks, I have a coke.  It doesn’t matter what other people think or say.”  Wow.  Freedom!  Freedom from peer pressure.  I never forgot it, and I never allowed my­self to be pushed into conforming to other people’s sins.  (I had plenty of my own, but not other people’s).  He wasn’t judgmental, or superior, or arrogant…just himself.  And he would not be moved.  That was his greatest gift to me as a parent.  He was true to himself.  That was a rock I could stand on.

I don’t think I’m as fine a person as he was, but I do know that much of what approaches virtue in me, he put it there.  May we all strive to love better, give what others really need from us, and be true to what we believe.

Yours in Christ

Pastor Wayne Wilson

Originally printed in the Acton Faith Bible Church Pony Express. Vol. III, No. 3, March 2010.

 

“Give ear and come to me, hear me, that your soul may live.”

– Isaiah 55:3