“Sometimes I think my papa is an accordion. When he looks at me and smiles and breathes, I hear the notes.” –Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
“But, mom, they told me I had to wear something festive, “ I whined. It was the 2nd grade Christmas program in a few days at my school, and we had been working on the songs in music class for weeks. At school, all the other girls were talking about their new dresses that they were going to be wearing. Some were wearing dresses of green and red velvet. While other girls, who were allowed to have their ears pierced, were going to be wearing jingle bell earrings. Me, well, I didn’t have anything remotely festive, so I couldn’t really contribute to the conversation. Instead, I decided I would beg my parents to get me something when I got home later that afternoon.
As I rode the bus home from school, I formulated my plan on how I was going to win over my parents. You see, we were the type of family that didn’t get new clothes often. At the time, we didn’t have tons of money, so we just used what we had. We got new school clothes in the fall (with a pair of tennis shoes) and new clothes in the spring (because last years shorts were always too short for the upcoming summer). I rarely got new dresses because I had a big sister and I wore her hand-me-downs.
I knew this would be an uphill battle, so I better get my act together before I come home so I have my best chance of getting a “yes.” I could don the “teary doe eyes” but I think I had overused that tactic, and now my parents were on to me. I could just dive into it…you know, sit down like I’m negotiating a contact and convince them it would be in their best interest to allow me to have a new dress. Or, I could just simply tell them the truth that I felt left out, and that I wanted to fit in….Nah! I’ll go with the negotiating a contract bit.
Needless to say, it didn’t go well. Both of my parents suggested that I wear one of the dresses that I already owned. My mom said she would French braid my hair, and put a red ribbon in it. My heart just sank. I knew it was a lost cause. I took my defeat, and went off to bed dreading going to school the next day to hear more about the other girls beautiful dresses.
The night before the show, my dad came into my room before I went to bed to kiss me goodnight. He told me how much he loved me, and how excited he was for the program. You see, it was pretty awesome that he was able to attend. My dad travelled a lot when I was growing up, and he had to miss things sometimes. But, he wasn’t going to miss the program and I was super happy about that. He asked me if I was still disappointed about the dress, and I didn’t lie, I was still a little disappointed. But, I was okay about it. He hugged me, and as he turned off the light, he looked back at me and said, “No matter what you are wearing tomorrow night, you will be beautiful.”
I remember feeling so full…full of all the wonderful things that childhood can bring. My daddy loved me. I felt it, I believed it, I knew it.
Later that night, after I had long drifted off to sleep, I heard my dad’s footsteps coming up the stairs. My eyes struggled to open, and I saw his shadow coming towards my door. As he stood in my doorway, I thought he was just checking on me before he went to bed himself. He did this often, but not this night. He reached into a bag and pulled out the most amazing dress I had ever seen. It was pure white, and had crimson red stitching along the edges. The top had puffy sleeves, and the bottom had red and white ruffles. RUFFLES!! I never had a dress with ruffles. It had a satin red sash that went around the waist and tied into the most perfect bow in the back. And, to top it off, my dad put a pair of white Mary Jane shoes on the floor underneath the dress. He turned around quietly, and went back down the stairs. My heart was beating so fast I thought he would be able to hear it.
The next night was the program, and I walked into the school feeling like the most special girl in the room. Not because of the wonderful dress that I had on, but because of the way my daddy made me feel. I’ll never forget it.
My dad is one of the most amazing people in my life. I’m thankful for so many things that he has brought to my life. But most importantly, I’m grateful that my dad has never forgotten his value bestowed on him by his Heavenly Father. He took his responsibility of his family seriously. My dad was not perfect, but he was present in our lives. He was invested in every way possible. He cared, he played, he talked and he fussed at us. He was our family leader. He led by example. I’m sure it was a heavy load to carry, but he never showed it. He still doesn’t.
Our world is slowly stripping away the very essence of what a man is. You can just watch the news, or see families portrayed on TV. The fathers, if they are even around, are idiots and morons. They contribute nothing, and are often considered an easily expendable character. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It undermines the very thing that men were made to be. I understand that not everyone had a father like me. I get that there are those who have been hurt and betrayed by their earthly fathers. Those wounds run deep and the effects can be long lasting. But, we have to remember we walk in our Heavenly Father’s redeeming love, and He tells us we are loved and worth it.
If we want to break the cycle of wet-noodle men, we need so stop watching the clever deconstruction of man, and do something about it. Women, we need to encourage the men in our lives to take hold of their God ordained leadership. They were designed for it. Moms remind your sons, sisters talk to your brothers, and wives encourage your husbands to let them know that they are capable and strong. This doesn’t mean nag them to be who we want them to be, but encourage them to be who God designed them to be. Let them feel our trust.
I can’t fathom who I would be without my father’s influence. Imagine what could happen if men began to realize how valued they all really were. It would be life changing.
Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. Proverbs 17:6