Sunday, June 19, 2016

Lessons From My Father...

              A DAUGHTER NEEDS A DAD
                   to be the standard against which            
                                 she will judge all men.

What a profound truth... a daughter needs a Dad. A son needs a Dad, too.

I have come to realize, as I gain years and hopefully some wisdom, that Dads make all the difference. Just like Moms make all the difference.

My take, and all might not agree, is that we are hard-wired, divinely hard-wired, to need a Father. All of us. If we don't have a real Dad, a Dad who does the job Dads are supposed to do, then we have a Dad-sized hole in our hearts. We have an ache in our soul. We often feel somehow incomplete, like something big and important is missing. We often go so far as to blame ourselves.

*Why wasn't I important enough or good enough for him to     
  show up?
*Doesn't he love me? If he loved me he would be in my life.

When children are little and see other Daddies showing up they wonder...what is the matter with me? Truth be told, in my view one of the biggest problems we have, perhaps even the root of much of the violence in our culture, is that many young people are missing having a dad in their life. 

A highly functioning Dad who is ready and capable to really be a Father. A highly functioning Dad who knows what it is to be a good man and a good Dad.

This last quarter I taught a Gender Communication class, one of my favorite classes to teach. Okay, they are all really my favorites, but I love teaching this class because the life-lessons are so profound. 

Two weeks ago we had what is called a "Men's Fishbowl" in class. What happens is that we move chairs that are already in two semi-circles to form an outside circle of chairs. There is room for a circle inside where the men and I will sit on the carpet. The "fishbowl rules" say that the women who sit on the outside need to take notes on their learnings, but they are not allowed to participate until the men are finished talking. No interruptions! They have the privilege of "listening in" on a heart-to-heart talk. A kleenex box sits on the floor next to me, just in case.

When I remind the students of the "no interrupting rule," and women know they can't put in their 5 cents, all of the men grin from ear-to-ear. :)

It's important to note, in talking about this exercise and my Gender Communication class, that 2/3rds of this elective course are made up of MEN! Yes, men! Men who want to improve how they relate with women. Men who are so brave and caring that they want to do better. My tears flow because I am just so proud of each one of these men.

Some of them are already Dads.

Back to the fishbowl...I always tell them how proud of them I am, how I honor who they are and how hard they are trying to be the best men they can be. I remind them that they have wisdom to share that will change the lives of the other men and women in the classroom. I remind them that I love them and believe in them.

Yes, I tell them out loud that I LOVE them. They need to hear that. I am old enough to be their Grandma and they need to know that I believe they are lovable.

Then I ask a few questions. These questions tug at their hearts. I remind them that real men get to cry. I remind them that the real men in the amazing video commercial I showed them cry. (I'll give you the link to that later in this post.)

Here are the questions:
1) Who was your most important male role model about how to be a man? What did they teach you? What did you need from them that perhaps you didn't get?
2) If you could say anything to that most important male role model and speak from your heart, what would you tell them?
3) What kind of a "good man" do you want to be? If you are blessed and become a Father what kind of Dad do you want to be for your children?
4) What advice would you give to the women in this class about relating to and communicating with you and the other men in their lives?

As we sat on the floor together, we started on my left and looked at the man who was about to speak. He was looking at the floor. This big huge man was trying not to cry. Finally he raised his head and said..."I didn't have a Dad. My dad was in prison. I have struggled my whole life to know how to be a man." The room fell silent. You could have heard a pin drop. I put my hand on his shoulder as he told his story and told about the ache in his heart. The missing.

And story-by-story the missings came out. They hung heavily in the room. Now we got it. Now we understood.

Only one male student out go all of those men had a highly functioning Dad. One who really showed up physically and emotionally. While I couldn't see the women in the room, I could hear them crying. 

Don't get me wrong, many of those men did learn from their Dads.

Yet, they all wondered how to be a good Dad when you didn't have a good Dad yourself. One of them referred to the video we saw in class. He said he was glad the lights were off in class when we watched the video because he couldn't keep from crying when he heard their stories. Especially the stories of men without Dads.

When I reflect back on those men in that classroom exercise, my own tears flow. After all, it is Father's Day today. It is Sunday,
June 19th. My last day with those students was on Monday, June 13th. I wonder how they are all celebrating Father's day or even if they are.

Today my thoughts go back to my own Daddy and all he meant to me. Like many of the young men in that circle, my Father grew up with a father who didn't want him, a dad who didn't show up. He grew up without the guidance that men with good Fathers often received. 

Yet what I know for sure in my deepest heart-of-hearts is that no matter the problems my Dad had, he loved me. He really, really 
loved me. He taught me that I was strong and capable. He showed me how to do things that would make my life better. He told me that while being born with one partial hand was not easy, that there was nothing I couldn't do. I might have to work a little harder than most folks to do it, but I could do it if I wanted to.

He believed that. And because he believed that, I did too.

Like so many Dads, he worked so hard to provide for his family. He taught me about hard work. Like so many dads, he was the official "leader" in my family. He taught me about leadership and that I was a leader. 

Like so many Dads, he was the communicator in the family. He taught me about the gift of oral communication. Like so many Dads, he loved activity and the great outdoors. He taught me about fishing and golf and having fun. Like so many Dads, my Dad served in WWII. For three years he was gone and fighting for our freedom. My Dad taught me about the value of sacrifice.

My Dad has been gone for 21 years and I miss him. Today, as every day, memories of him come flooding back. I got my Daddy a Father's Day card, as I always do, when I got a Father's day card for my beloved husband, Bert.

My beloved Bert is a different kind of Dad than the one I had.
His heart isn't hurt the way my Dad's heart was hurt, so Bert gives so much love to all of our children and Grandchildren. Bert's love for them is unconditional and because Bert knows and loves God, 
Bert's love for our children flows more easily. Bert's love feels like God's love.

So on this Father's Day I am celebrating all of the men in my in my classes, all those dads wanting to be the best Dad they can be. I am celebrating my own Dad and the lessons I learned from my Father. I am celebrating Bert and all the Dads in my family, the young Dads loving their children. And I am celebrating my Heavenly father, my Abba, my Daddy who teaches me what real love feels like. He is a "Father to the fatherless..."

Happy Father's Day! May you know in your deepest heart-of-hearts
that you too have a Heavenly Father who loves you and is there for matter what!

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Video link: Happy Father's day- Don't miss this!!

1 comment:

Jackie said...

As always, a beautiful read.
What a God-sent blessing you are!
I'm so thankful we met through your blog. My life is blessed because of you....through the love of our Lord.
Love you, my sweet friend.

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