I was recently asked to speak at the Father Daughter Dance that our church holds each year. This is an annual event that our ministries put on to give fathers an opportunity to set aside time to take their daughters out one on one and remind them how truly special they are… not only in their father’s eyes but in the eyes of their Father in Heaven.
When I first was asked to speak, I thought about what I could possibly say that would be relevant. Yes I am a daughter to someone. Yes I am about to have a daughter… but clearly a room full of dads that have been dads for years have more experience in this area than me so what could I possibly say to contribute to this wonderful experience?!
Then I realized it wasn’t so much about what I could say, for my words are fleeting and would probably be forgotten the minute I was done speaking. So no it was not about what I could say, but rather it was what I could do.
Something that I love to do is write. I keep journals, I keep this little blog, and I keep tons of notes in my iPhone. Millions of thoughts run through my brain at any given moment throughout the day so I love to jot them down. Because of this, I knew I could write a letter to express my thoughts to how important the role of “dad” is in a woman’s life and the impact it has. More specifically: the impact my dad has had on my life. I want to share this letter with you all all.
Before I do, let me give you a little background… I am 29 and I am the youngest of four girls. My mom and dad were married in 1979 when my dad was a whopping 19 years old. Two years later in June of 1981, they were blessed with my oldest sister Stephanie. Then exactly 2 years after that in June, my second sister Stacie was born. 2 years later right in the middle of 1985, that warm June month brought my third sister Sandra… and I bet you could guess what happens next… but you’d most likely be wrong. I suppose my parents decided to give June a rest. But low and behold 2 years and 5 months later in November I was born. So here my dad was at 28 years of age with FOUR daughters. To say his plate was full was an understatement. To say his heart was full is the understatement of a lifetime.
As far back as I can remember, my dad has been a man of little words. The strong and silent type, many of my friends, especially those of the male persuasion, found him to be a little intimidating, but I just found him to be generous. The hardest worker I know, many of my memories of him find him at worK. He had two jobs for a good part of my childhood and he was in and out of the house a lot. But that doesn’t mean his presence wasn’t felt. He always made sure that it was. Being a man of little words, he wasn’t especially well versed in the Bible. He didn’t quote scripture or throw Bible verses at situations… He wasn’t publically praying or acknowledging God’s goodness in every breath. He didn’t talk much of parables or the Old Testament tales. If you wanted to measure my dad against the idea of what “a good Christian Dad” looks like, he would probably fall short every time. He is not perfect and he is with his faults. But I never once have questioned in my life where and whom His heart belongs… and it’s not because of his words but with his actions. And that’s what has made the most impact on my life. Here is the letter I wrote my dad:
First off I want to say thank you. At a time in my life where it feels the generation of men are more concerned with their on fleek haircuts and material possessions, you have taught me by your hard working hands that your first priority and responsibility is to love God and by doing that love your family. Loving your family doesn’t mean sweet words or small gestures, but rather it meant waking up at 4 am each day and coming home long after the sun had gone down just so that I never had to go without. It meant that when things got tough with mom you didn’t leave or give up, but rather you persevered and pushed through knowing that, with God, tomorrow could be better. You showed us that 38 years of marriage isn’t easy and takes work, but it is worth it and it is possible if you never give up. And because of that you showed me to never settle for anything less than that when it came to my own spouse and gave me the confidence I needed to enter into a marriage knowing that though it may not always be easy, it would always be worth it.
You probably could never have told me that in Acts 20:35 it says:
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
But this verse came to life when you took us to make baskets for the homeless every Thanksgiving, when you knew that the little boy down the street couldn’t afford new shoes and you replaced them for him simply because he needed them, and when you silently served at the Boys and Girls club for years, being a big brother to someone who had no one… never telling anyone that you were doing so.
Dad, you probably don’t know that Romans 15:7 says to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you… but you showed this when you opened up our home day in and day out to all people anytime because you know that everyone needs someplace to go.
You probably wanted to pull your hair out when I kicked and cried on Saturday mornings because you made us get up early and pick the rocks from the soil…. But in that I learned humility and that no job is beneath me. You taught me grace, not by blasting Chris Tomlin through the house, but by constantly forgiving those who wronged you, and you showed me faith by continuing to put one foot in front of the other in the face of despair and sadness, knowing yourself and showing us in your actions that the sun continues to rise. Not grumbling in your words but moving forward trusting that God was still in control.
Dad I say all these things not to point out what you don’t know, but what you did know…and that is the simple fact that actions speak louder than words. For God says don’t just be hearer of the words but doers as well and you, my father, have always been a doer. For that I will always be grateful because it is a legacy that I will remember far longer than any word or conversation that we have had. It is a legacy that has made me into the woman I have become and one that will continue through my child and generations to come.
I hope I can, like you Dad, be a doer, and show it in the way that you’ve shown me. For your mirroring of God’s love is worth more than anything else. I love you forever.
To all the dads out there, or parents in general, I just wanted to say that it’s okay. It’s okay if you aren’t perfect. It’s okay if you fall short or make mistakes. It’s even okay if you don’t know every word that is in the Bible. But If I can encourage you in one thing, it’s to encourage you to be doers. It’s not enough to come to church and listen to God’s word and regurgitate it to your children in hopes that they’ll absorb it. But rather they need to see it through your actions and how you’re living your life. Your example will always mean the most in the end. It is what is going to make the greatest impact on them… knowing and seeing that God’s love has transformed your life and has the power to transform theirs as well.