Words I would love to hear from my father. I’m sure he was proud of me but I know that he didn’t get to live to see me become the person he knew I could be. I know that he loved us and helped us out without question or conditions (even though I still have “signed contracts” he never really made me pay him back). He was our biggest cheerleader and believed in us through our lowest moments. He never stopped believing that we would get on our feet and make it.
From what I understand he told everyone about us. He called us every Sunday and tried to visit as much as possible when he was well. He even made special trips to come hear me preach and to watch Tayler’s soccer games.
But, the classic story of my dad is when he was in his final moments on this earth. He asked my sister to lean over so he could tell her something. His final words were literally about to be uttered. My sister was thinking he was going to tell her that he was proud of her or that he loved her. Instead my dad chose as his final words that he was leaving us a “huge amount of money”. Classic dad- showing his love through providing for us even until the very end!
As much as we all appreciated his heart in wanting to provide for us we obviously all needed to hear the same message “I’m proud of you”. Our dad wasn’t very good at telling us he loved us or that he was proud of us (my wife’s rolling her eyes saying” that sounds familiar!”) And, I’m quite sure that we would have all given back the money to have more time with him and to tell him we were proud he was our father.
Ultimately I know that he wasn’t proud of us because of what we had accomplished or what we have attained in this life. I know he wasn’t proud because we all turned out to be decent human beings. He wasn’t proud because we loved each other and had all found people to love. No, more than all that he was proud simply because we were his kids-the rest of it was just a bonus.
My father has left behind many good things in his legacy including a strong work ethic, honesty, humor and friendship. I want to imitate those qualities and pass them down to my kids. But, the old saying “more is caught than taught”- well, that’s true for both the good and bad qualities. I have found that I have to really work at expressing my feelings into words. I want my kids to be able to tell my grandkids that they are loved and that they are proud of them. But, it can start with me.
There is no substitute for losing your father. I know that God is my Heavenly Father and that He’s proud of me. But, that’s kind of like your mom telling you that you’re handsome or beautiful- it’s a part of the job description. There will always be that question mark in my mind and I feel like that hole in my heart will always be longing to hear my dad’s words.
So, this is where it gets tough- and I’ve thought this for months now. I haven’t told my son that I am proud that he’s my son until recently. Not because of grades, or a good soccer game or making a positive choice. I want him to know that I am proud of him simply because he is my son. And, apparently he’s needed to hear the same words from me that I need to still hear from my father. It took a minor world war in our house for me to know that was true. But, when he did finally hear those words then it diffused the situation and things have been different around here.
One thing that I’ve learned over the past few years with all the deaths in my family is that we really are not promised tomorrow. We hear that a lot but death is always unexpected even if the person has been ill for a while. Saying the positive things in your heart are life to those that hear them and freedom for you! It’s life for those around you because their hearts come alive when they are encouraged but dry up when when they are discouraged. For you it is freedom from a legacy of silence, longing, and wondering. We are not bound by a fear of intimacy or rejection. We are not bound by regret over unspoken words.
Now, that I’ve set myself up I better go tell my wife that I love her and my son that I am proud of him! What about you? What words do the people around you need to hear? You know they do- so what’s holding you back? You really are not promised tomorrow! What will be your legacy? Will your kids know that you are proud of them because you’ve told them? Will your spouse know that you are proud of them? Or will they be left wondering?