Hello, Sweethearts! I hope you’ve had good days between last Wednesday and this one.
My late father’s birthday was this week and instead of writing a lamenting post, I want to share three lessons Pop taught me in word and in deed.
– LESSON #1 –
You are not responsible for how people treat you,
but you are responsible for how you treat them.
My father was a pastor and before that, he was a deacon. For the majority of his life, he was in a position of servitude. I watched him load his pickup truck with lawn tools to cut the grass of those who couldn’t do it themselves. I heard him pray for people who cursed him. I saw him use kind words as weapons. He would share vegetables from his garden. He would always tell me “You don’t have to give an account for how folks treat you. You got to give an account of how you treat them.” And you know what? He was so right. Every time I wanted to say something hurtful to someone that hurt me, I remembered Pop’s words. To this day, his voice resides in my ears and acts as a stop sign. A gentle reminder that I am only responsible for myself. Someone can treat me horribly, but I don’t have to accept her/his behavior on my plate. I do, however, have to take responsibility for how I respond. That is the only thing that will require an answer from my Creator. (Sidebar: Pop loved to cook and was excellent at it.)
– LESSON #2 –
Say what you mean; mean what you say.
When he married my mother and we became a blended family, he made a point to show me that he was trustworthy. This meant having my mother’s meal ready when she came home for lunch. He also picked me up from school when I was on the floor debilitated from extreme menstrual cramps. With a limp from a stroke, he still rushed to the door of restaurants to open it for me. When my mother and I were mistreated, he was our defender. Immorality was not his cup of tea and spoke up when necessary. Pop’s lesson took root into my spirit because his word was everything. Whatever he said was authentic and solid whether it was encouraging or corrective. The more birthdays I have, the more I absorb this quality.
– LESSON #3 –
Preserve your name.
I have a fond memory of Pop sending me to the local feed store to pick up food for the 20+ hunting beagles in our backyard. I didn’t need money. I didn’t need a note. I just needed his name. My dad had a tab that he settled every month with the owner. They had an understanding that only worked because Pop displayed good character. How simple, yet priceless that is. He was that way about everything though. If something did not align with his moral compass, he did not engage in it for the sake of his reputation. If he was wrong, he admitted it and asked for forgiveness. I try my best to maintain the same decorum. He taught me that your name is the only thing you truly own. Everything attached to it determines your altitude, connectivity, and longevity. I can only hope that when I die, my name is preserved in the heart of those I served just like Pop.
Sweethearts, I pray that you are hugged by loving memories if you’re missing someone right now. I want to also give you permission to miss her voice, his smile, her laugh, his snore… everything. It doesn’t mean you’re weak in your spiritual beliefs; it means you’re a spiritual being in a human body that longs for another spiritual being outside of her/his earthly frame. That’s all. This week, I heard my dad’s chuckle and felt his love all around. I cried a little and let myself marinate in his sweetness. It was a beautifully intimate moment. So, the next time you’re experiencing a memory of your loved one or you miss them so much that your heart aches, just close your eyes and say “I feel you.” Once for your loved one and once for the God who allowed you two to merge moments in time.
Peace & Thanks for listening! I love you all!