Saturday, June 16, 2012

Everyone Needs a Cheerleader

Growing up I did not have the best relationship with my dad. At age 12, I was convinced that he wanted to "ruin" my life because he wouldn't let me walk the streets with my friends at 10:00 at night. He was sick a lot (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I didn't understand. I had very high expectations, and he failed to meet them. He really didn't stand a chance against my idealism. My dad has not been the perfect father; he has messed up, he "ruined" my life when I was 12, and sometimes I didn't honor him as a child. Then I grew up. I cannot remember when it was that I realized that my dad wasn't perfect and no longer expected him to be. I think it started somewhere around age 15. I was less concerned with myself and my own agenda, and I began to see my dad. I began to understand his love language; I began to notice all the little things he did for me; I saw the years of protection and love that he had covered me with.  I learned a little more every year, and now, nothing but gratitude and honor swell in my heart whenever I think about my father.
My dad is a dreamer, so I suppose it is natural for him to recognize that in me. We spend hours on the phone, and he listens while I hash through some of my dreams and fears with him. He listens so well that sometimes I have to ask, "dad are you still there?" And the reply is always the same, "yes, I am just listening to you." Our conversations are not always all me talking. Dad doesn't talk often, but I can get him going for hours if I ask the right questions. Then I listen while he shares his dreams of sailing, traveling, and serving others.

The reality is that my dad has not supported me in every dream I have ever had (like the $500 ice sculpture I felt like I needed at my wedding...yes I can be extravagant and forget practicality very easily). I remember his very words, "I am not spending $500 on melting ice!"Oh I see the wisdom of it now.

And college...I wanted to attend a college that was far out of our budget. My dad discouraged me and showed me very practically how much debt I would gain each year. Then he helped me find a college that we could afford, and again....I see the wisdom of it now (I just paid off my college loan 5 years early YAY).

 Recently my dad was diagnosed with adult onset diabetes. It is in his family. He has a strong will and can control it with diet and exercise, but he also needs to take insulin pills. When he called me to tell me, time stood still for a moment. I knew it was possible, but I didn't expect it. I didn't want to think about him being sick. My dad has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders (although I am not so sure you would want to see him in a mini skirt with pom poms). He is a tremendous encouragement in so many different ways. It doesn't take much to show someone you care, or that you are listening to who they really are. Sometimes it is just a quick one line reply to a blog post, or a 2 hour phone conversation, or a letter in the mail. Sometimes it is a word of encouragement. I have seen my dad offer all of this to so many people throughout his life. He has a tremendous gift and shares it with the world. I cannot imagine a world without my father, and I thank God for the blessing of who he is to me.

Now that I am a mom, I mess up, and I have nothing but grace for my father (and my mother).  They sacrificed, they gave up and gave to. Take this Father's Day to tell your dad thank you. Life is very short, and moments fly by too swiftly. Become deliberate in telling your loved ones how dear they are to you. Dad, thank you. I appreciate you so much, and I store up much of what I learn from you. You are my dad, you have become one of my dearest friends, you are a delight, and I love you. Happy Father's Day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this! You described Dad perfectly.