I have been blessed. No doubt about it. A beautiful wife. A home and job ran by family. Five children – one daughter, four sons, plus another son on the way. Three nephews, two nieces and one nephew on the way. I have truly been blessed. I have a wonderful mother who has stayed strong, I had a wise and wonderful father. Two wonderful brothers and a sweet, beautiful sister. I have a great set of in laws. In truth, I don’t think I would ask for anything to change too much. In truth, I have been blessed.
As Father’s Day approaches, as is typical for me, I tend to reflect on these things now, instead of throughout the year as i probably should. I never dreamed 30+ years ago that I would be living where I am, married with five children, soon to be six, doing what I do for a living. Again, I don’t think I would dare ask for more, nor would I ask for anything less.
As i sit and reflect on those things that I am blessed with, I am reminded of the way my own father was. The things he said, the things he did, and I now know why he was the way he was. It was never about perfection, it was about love, and though I don’t fully get it, I have begun to understand it.
The most memorable lesson my father taught me was to forget everything you know when going into a new place in life. The greatest example was baseball camp, where the intention of his lesson was essentially this: you may be the best one out there, but there is always something to learn, and to learn, you must be willing to learn, foregoing all the knowledge that brought you to where you are at today. In other words, let go of what you think you know, let go of the pride that you have in what you know, and open yourself up to learning what you need to. It is a hard lesson – for I knew a lot when it came to baseball, but if I was going to learn more, I needed to lay that knowledge down. That is not to say forget, but simply let go, and allow yourself, in the baseball sense, to take hold of the approach to the game that is being presented.
Often times we think that no matter what, we are right. We have our sources, we have our experience, and thus, we have our knowledge. These things, in our own mind, and sometimes in the minds of others, gives us an authority on a subject to speak and share. Yet, if we do not lay that down, we will become stagnant in our thoughts and beliefs, never truly growing. My father was a good example of this in his life, as both a Christian pastor and as a father. He was not perfect by any means, but most people who knew him knew he was knowledgeable and would say he had an authority in him to speak on those things he knew. My father was a pastor, a priest and a dad, but if I had to some him up in one word, it was teacher. Regardless of his status, he was always learning, he was always looking for a different perspective. Not once did he ever belittle me, and he could have many times. Whenever i had a thought or an idea, he listened, poked holes in it and if he felt it was right, he absorbed it.
My father’s journey from his birth to his death is a long one. I know I have hashed it out more then once, and so have others. His journey though had one constant, and that was one of blessing. My father was blessed – three sons with a wife who medically should have had no children. An adopted daughter whose story of her adoption is a novel on its on. A religious journey from initial salvation to culmination as a priest and bishop which could probably fill at least a trilogy worth of books. A legacy, that even to this day continues to grow. A name that will continue to be passed on from generation to generation. Essentially, a journey that if told hundreds of years from now would make good reading. If it had a title, it would simply be called “Blessing,” and in that, I believe my father would smile.
My father blessed everyone he met – I don’t mean that my father said hello and they felt blessed – I mean he literally blessed everyone he met. From the waitresses he gave enormous tips to, to the homeless guy on the corner in Thomaston, GA, affectionately and derisively known as “Dirt Bomb.” To the government officials and the locally historic families who did not want a “catholic” church to prosper in their area, or even exist, to the people who threatened him when he stood with the people who had literally been enslaved in the local mills. It didn’t matter if you liked him, loved him, hated him, wanted him dead, he blessed you and he prayed for you and in his heart, he loved you.
I know what you are saying and thinking, but I knew the man intimately for, still, over half my life. Yes, he got angry and upset, and I’m sure there were times he was afraid, but in the end the only thing that came out of his mouth was blessings. Even in his disciplining of his sons (I don’t think my sister ever needed it), he blessed us. Even when I messed up royally, he blessed me. Same goes for when people under his authority did the same thing, he blessed them. I think the only time I ever heard him not bless was when watching sports… but like I said, he wasn’t perfect.
As I look back this coming Father’s Day, I realize that the number one reason I have been blessed it because my father was always blessing. That truly is his legacy. I also realize that I have not always walked that same path, and that is my confession. Like my father, I can get angry, but unlike him, my response to that is not always to simply bless, but to react in kind. As i look into the eyes of my own children, I am reminded of looking into the eyes of my own father, and that is the conviction of my own failure to simply bless, pray and love instead of reacting.
So, my prayer is that I can walk more in the ways of blessing rather then cursing. That I can walk more in love then in hate. That I can walk more in faith then in fear. To conclude, I think the most valuable lesson my father ever taught was that it is not about being right or wrong, but rather it is about being a blessing. To be less concerned with convincing people you are right by words and letters, but show them the truth through love and your heart. As always, as Father’s Day approaches, I remember my own father, and I am thankful for him and his love. In the same breath I am thankful that I am a father and in that, I remember what it is to be a child. I know that this Father’s Day I am truly blessed, and I feel that my own father would be, and is, proud.