A life lesson that took years to fully learn.
Leaving home and going to college is a thrilling time. Breaking away from childhood into young adulthood was something I was anticipating as I turned 18. Finally I would be on my own, without the rules and guidance of my parents. I was free to do what I wanted, as long as I passed my classes and didn’t spend more than the $25 a week my parents were still giving me.
College was full of meeting new people, making new friendships, experiencing new ways of thinking, and of course being a bit rebellious. Between the ages of 18–22 are the most formative years of most people’s lives, but I was just at the beginning of this phase, and little did I know I had much to learn about myself and the world around me.
Later in my freshman year I met a girl. She was going on a mission trip to Jamaica that summer. She asked me to come, and since I liked her so much I wanted to go, too. I didn’t have the money, so I asked my parents for the handout. Their first response was “No.” They told me to do missionary work locally if I really wanted to help people so badly. They told me I don’t need to travel overseas to help people less fortunate. I told them I needed a new experience and I would only be there for 2 weeks. I told my dad he wouldn’t understand and asked him:
“Well what mission trip have you ever gone on?”
His response was one of the most wise statements I’ve ever heard. As an 18 year old I thought I knew it all. Viewpoints were just starting to emerge in me. But now, as a grown man myself, with my own family, his statement still stands true. He said this:
“Son — our family has been my missionary work.”
His statement was a story. He’s been a great father. He placed his family first. He has loved my mom and raised 3 children. He has taught me to be patient, strong-minded, and kind — Biblical beliefs he has shown over the years.
Growing up, my father was the oldest of 5 boys. When he was still young, his father left the family, and by default my dad had to help out the most.
After seeing his own father leave, he didn’t want to see any of those mistakes with his own family. He’s done a great job. I’m proud to have him as my father. He’s been the best role model I could have asked for.
I’ll never forget the words he said that day when I was 18. “Son — our family has been my missionary work.”
Yes it has, Dad.