For Mother’s Day, I wrote a post about the six things I most wanted my sons to have in their adult lives. I printed the post and pasted it into two copies of The Giving Tree. I hope those words will find them later in life when the meaning will make a bit more sense.
Since Father’s Day is this Sunday, I started thinking of my late grandfather. I wondered what his wishes for me were. And I decided to try to write them down based on the actions and words he lived by. These are the five things I think he would have written to me.
- Never dim your light because it’s too bright for others. I was an opinionated and stubborn child. Unlike many adults, my grandfather found this side of my personality amusing. He wasn’t hesitant to put me in my place, but he also wanted to make sure that I learned to make peace with my natural temperament. He taught me to accept myself. And he would have wanted me to provide a safe place for others to be their true selves and to grow at their own pace.
- Never think more highly of yourself than you ought to. This is a part of his favorite biblical scripture and something he clearly communicated often. I think he said this more loudly than any other message. He was quick to point out the hypocrisy in judgment. He knew that by thinking we were better than others, we lost our connection to them. He encouraged me to grow compassion and humility and was quick to correct me when he heard hints of pride.
- You can’t “be good”; you can only “do good.” He didn’t see people as good or bad. He knew that everyone was a mix of both – including him. So instead he tried his best to do many good deeds. He tried to live a life where his positive actions would speak louder than his regrets. He didn’t hide that he was not a perfect man, but he was always trying to be better. And he encouraged me to do the same.
- Never settle for less than love. As a woman, I’ve been blessed to have the love of many wonderful men that shaped my life. My father probably had the largest impact, but my grandfather was close behind. He let me know that I was worthy of a man’s love, honor and protection. He was not at all quiet at times when he felt I was accepting less than the standard he wanted for me. He gave me the nerve to demand love from my relationships (romantic and otherwise) and I know he’d want to make sure I kept doing that.
- We’re here on earth to serve each other. He believed this deeply. He saw service as our calling in life. As a soldier, he served our country. As a husband he served his wife. As a father, he served our family. But most importantly, he served God. If he was able to write me this letter, I have no doubt that he would want to point me back in God’s direction. He would encourage me to grow my faith and to grow my service.