Five Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad
It doesn't matter how old I've gotten, or that I'm a married woman with a child of my own. Since coming into my life and marrying my mom, the only man in this world that I consider worthy of calling my father, has and continues to look out for me.
I was 18-years-old and more than anything, I wanted a CD player. Like, so badly that I could taste it in my mouth. Christmas came and I watched my siblings each open their very own CD player. When my gift box was handed to me, I was so sure that I would be opening it to discover that I too was gifted with music.
I opened my box and instantly burst into tears. Inside my box wasn't the coveted CD player. No, it was a case of oil. In true emotional teenage girl fashion, I lost my cool. I'm talking the whole nine yards- foot stomping, crying, screaming and door slamming. I sure was a treat that Christmas morning. And yet my (step) dad didn't wash his hands of me. He loved me even harder.
What I didn't realize at the time is that my dad was sincerely trying to look out for me. I'd recently begun driving and it was important to him that I know the basics of car maintenance so that I could save myself from unnecessary headaches.
Fast forward 20 years and I am so thankful for the Christmas the I was given oil because I've never forgotten that day and the reminder from my dad that "oil is the cheapest thing you can put in your car and it will help it stay alive." While always maintaining the oil in my car was one of the biggest lessons I learned from my dad, these five other life lessons he taught me are also pretty huge.
My dad was never one to get uptight while driving, completely opposite of me. He'd take me out for driving lessons and I'd tense up as cars would zoom by me or ride my bumper because they didn't think I was going fast enough. My dad was always so laid back and would tell me, "don't worry about them- you worry about yourself. Always be aware of your speed and never go too fast. If people don't like it, they'll find a way around you." Dad's advice has saved me from ever getting a speeding ticket because I was pressured to drive faster than I should have.
There was a man who used to sit on the stone wall in front of the church we went to and he'd feed the pigeons. As far as I know, my dad was the first and only adult to talked to the man. In time, all of us kids, and my mom, began to chat with the man. We learned that he was a homeless war veteran who'd returned from war to learn his wife had left and taken everything. He was completely alone in the world. My family struggled because money was one thing we didn't have, but we always found a way to put together some food, or socks, or other little things for the man. Because my dad took the time to talk to the man and encouraged us to find a way to give to, I learned a level of compassion that I never would have learned otherwise.
Whenever I've told my dad about a potential new job or big purchase, he's always asked me this question, "did you pray about it?" My dad has always made it clear that decisions shouldn't be based on money, but should be based on the answer we get when we pray about it. If we feel that the answer should be "no" even when we want it to be "yes," then we need to honor that. I remember applying for a radio job in a big city and they were interested in hiring me and for a crazy amount of money, but after praying about it- something didn't feel right. I declined the job. The team I would have joined were all fired just 6 months after the position was filled and it was due to budget cuts.
When I say I'm going to do something, I do it. Even if I don't want to or I change my mind about after the fact. Obviously, there are circumstances (like a super sick kid) that mean I might occasionally have to back out of something, but that's different than not doing something because it sounds boring or like hard work. My dad has drilled it into me and my siblings that our word is our bond. When we promise to do something, we have to follow through or people won't believe us. It's all about integrity and accountability.
You know how people always tell kids not to talk to strangers? Not my dad. As long as he was with us, he encouraged us to talk to complete strangers (if we were alone- that was different). Dad encouraged us to strike up a conversation in the grocery store or out on the street. My dad has never, ever been scared to talk to someone. There have been times I've been scared for him because he's not even scared of shady characters. My dad will talk to anyone about anything, even if he has absolutely nothing in common with them. Some of the most fascinating people I've ever met were complete strangers that I randomly bumped into and when I did, I could hear my dad telling me to talk to them. I'm so glad I've followed his advice.