The older I get, the more I am realizing the enormous impact that fathers have on their children. These male role models can be incredibly amazing, or nonexistent.
I just finished reading Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and me by Ian Morgan Cron. It is an incredible memoir of his life with an alcoholic, self-absorbed father. It always pains me to read books like this. My heart just aches knowing that there are millions of kids who live in homes where on the surface everything appears to be normal, but inside the home, kids are dying for attention and affection.
My childhood was completely different. I was not exposed to the kind of heartbreak he describes in his book, and I have a hard time imagining what my life would have been like if I had. However, I did have a difficult time during my teen years, due to my father passing away when I was 14. Many of my friends and people who hear that always say what a tragedy it was, and how I was cheated. While I have certainly felt that way many, many times, I now choose to think about it differently. I was given an incredible gift.
My father was a beautiful human being. He loved God, and he loved people. He was constantly doing things for people he didn't know, helping those less fortunate, volunteering his time, and loving life. And, he loved us unconditionally. I felt it, and knew it. He was truly an example of how to show Christ's love on earth. His example left an imprint on my heart so big, that it has actually taken me many years to fully understand all of the things I learned from him. God is helping me to understand some of this at a much deeper level now. But, that's another conversation for another post!
So this book left me feeling amazed at another beautiful story of grace,. It also helped opened my eyes to the fact that our actions as parents impact our children in ways we can never imagine. We have to continue to choose each day to empower and love our children unconditionally, in both words and actions.
It's also reminded me to be fully present and listen to kids around us. God can use us to be a positive voice and encouragement to them. Those kids that may sometimes bug us in the neighborhood. You know, the one at the pool who is a bully and mean, but deep down is craving attention. That shy girl who needs to know that someone notices her. That teenager who is having a hard time making it through the day because she doesn't seem to fit in anywhere, and is tired of being picked on. That boy whose father tells him he is worthless. There are so many of them. We just have to take the time to notice them, listen to the clues, and then offer a smile and a word of encouragement.
How did your father impact you? How are you offering encouragement to others?