"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What makes a Man Great?

"Relationships take up energy, letting go of them, psychiatrists theorize, entails mental work. When you lose someone you were close to, you have to reassess your picture of the world and your place in it. The more your identity was wrapped up with the deceased, the more difficult the loss."
                                                                                                      -Meghan O'Rourke

How does a daughter ever get over the death of her father - her good father?

The man who joined with my mother, gave me life.

The man who provided financially with food, clothing, private education, piano lessons, instruments, paints, a roof over my head....

This was the man who gave me bottles in the middle of the night, changed my diapers, held me when I cried.

As I grew he dropped me off at school, kissed me and told me to have a good day. He listened tirelessly to my emotional, academic and friendship dramas. He helped me with my math and science homework.

He taught me the Bible.

This godly man prayed for me EVERY day of my life.... EVERY day.... for over 51 years!

He showed me what a man was supposed to be and how he should treat a woman with love, respect and and an even tempered nature. He taught me that women were not only beautiful, but that they had brains and gifts too, that were allowed in the world and church in equal measure to a mans.

He taught me how to read with great expression by the many books that he read to me over the years. As his voice boomed over Narnia, my imagination soared.

By example, he taught me to preach, to love, to be.

He showed me who God was.... that the Love of the Father, God was expressed through our human hands and feet. Our mouths were to speak of good things.

He taught me to always believe the best in people. To persevere through all circumstances, always hope and believe in the love of our heavenly father.

He cheered me on as I played the piano, making room for me to share my musical and artistic gifts with his congregation.

He took me on pastoral calls, visiting, praying with people, delivering food. He taught me that we were blessed even if others had more and to always share with those in need.

He taught me that a life well lived, was one spent on others... not oneself.

He taught me about contentment. It wasn't about having the biggest toys, or pretty things (which I really like truthfully), it was about being content with everything you had. Money doesn't bring joy.

He taught me to drive.

His big hand held my little hand and supported me through life... even life as an adult.

He kissed my mother goodbye EVERY TIME he left the house. If I was there, I got a kiss too!

His smile lit up my heart and my life.

I was forever proud of my daddy.... a man who loved wholeheartedly. A man who truly made the most of every opportunity to spread grace. I loved meeting people who respected him and thus passed on the respect to me, his child. I didn't earn it - I got it by very nature of being Stan's daughter.

I visited my father 3-5 days a week. This man was one of my best friends through my entire life. And yes, my understanding of the world and my identity was most wrapped up with that of my father's.

Am I hurting.... you betcha, maybe more every day. My heart feels as if it has been ripped forcefully out of my body.

This is the season of grief and hope for christians around the world. The season when we remember a price paid for our sins. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, was the truth that my father based his whole life on. That's where he got the ability to be all those things to me. Without that crucial relationship, he would have been just another man... 

He could have been just another man, but he let the transformative power of Jesus change him. He invited the Holy Spirit to come into him and give him that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Dad didn't try to manufacture them on his own. He didn't just  pretend to have those qualities, he possessed them. God gave them to him, just like he can give them to anyone else who asks. Letting your higher power take over your life is really the only way to make your life count for something that will last. All the stupid things we strive for in life really mean nothing in the end.

My father left his body, his loved ones and all his belongings on this earth. He only took his spirit with him. Our spirits are our core essence and in the end, it's all we have.

I think about reincarnation sometimes. I joked with my dad that he was Abe Lincoln reincarnated. The resemblance was uncanny in spirit and physically. Jesus paid the price to perfect us with his blood. I'm thankful that dad doesn't have to do more rounds of life to "get it right". He got it right because he gave his life over to the one that would make a difference. He is now reaping his "reward" for that beautiful life. He now sees face to face the one that he gave his life to. He feels the true measure of love that we only get a faint glimpse of at present.

Dad would say. "Keep on keeping on. Keep the faith. Be faithful in the little things and in the big things. Don't sweat things because God has it all figured out. Daily, hourly, every moment, go to the one that will perfect your spirit. Allow the greater power to live through you and then you too can leave a testimony on this earth... not of your greatness but of God's greatness through you."

Yes, my daddy was a great man.... but it was because God lived, talked, breathed and walked through him on this earth. My dad would wish the same for all of you.

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