My parents divorced when I was very young and both remarried within a few short years.
I have no memories of my Mom and first Dad being together as I was just a baby. My Mom and Jeff Amidon, my second Dad, raised me primarily however my visitation rights allowed me to see Jim Perkins, my natural father and his parents every other weekend and we then split time during the holidays and the summer.
I provide this background only to explain that I didn’t grow up with my natural father on a regular basis. We stuck to the visitation schedule all through my grade school years and then as I started working in high school and later college, life seemed to get more progressively in the way. I was always very close to my Dad and his parents who I cherished, and feel fortunate to have grown up with their loving influence.
Fast forward almost 40 years and I found myself somewhat estranged from my first Dad. It was nothing he did in particular but rather the culmination of a number of years of me not speaking my truth in love. For some reason I allowed “things” that I used to let go, start to effect my attitude towards my Dad. It reached a point of me actually missing one entire holiday season…the first time ever in my life.
You have in life what you tolerate and I allowed a few unmet emotional needs between me and my Dad to hurt my feelings. While I loved my Dad with all my heart, I was really struggling with the negative feelings and was stuck as to what to do about the situation. Something had to change…and that something turned out to be me.
Through the influence of my earliest childhood best friend, my pastor, and one of my most cherished mentors, I realized the error of my ways and went to work to repair and restore our “broken” relationship.
Perspective is a critical element in life and some people through life experiences have a more diverse perspective than others. I would never try to minimize any struggle someone is going through and yet, in most cases, it’s not hard to find someone else with a more severe struggle.
In our society we often take everyday childbirth for granted given the advances in healthcare and yet one of my best friends has a two year old little boy who was born with Downs Syndrome. My little brother and his wife also have a little two year old miracle girl who was born with a life altering birth defect. That is perspective. And yet in both cases, each family is making the best of otherwise overwhelmingly challenging situations.
For me, I needed some new perspective to shake me out of my negative thinking. Children from broken homes often grow up with extremely negative circumstances and yet I was fortunate enough to grow up in two loving homes with very little difficulty. Where growing up “fatherless” is common in our society, I was blessed with two loving fathers who supported me in most every way.
In contrast, my best friend lost his Dad to heart disease during our high school years. My pastor lost his Dad in a tragic event during his early twenties. Here I was “whining” about not getting everything I felt I needed from one of my two Dads, when two of the most important people in my life had been without their fathers for many, many years.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the past few years is the absolute necessity to take responsibility for where you are in life. In light of my best friend and pastor and their situation, mine left me feeling desperately guilty and selfish. Instead of blaming my Dad for what I wasn’t getting, I started sowing into him like never before in my life.
All relationships are a two way street and yet you have to be willing to take responsibility and give 110% on a regular basis. My personal commitment was to call my Dad once a week after church on Sunday’s to catch up. At first it was forced, however in time it became easier. Now after almost two years, it is totally expected and welcomed on his part and mine and the time is practically carved in stone.
My pastor often says “love is a choice, not a feeling” and I made the decision that if I wanted a relationship with my Dad, I needed to sow into his life on a consistent basis.
It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
One of my mentors, Jeffrey Gitomer, did not lose his Dad early in life like my buddy and pastor. Max Gitomer went to be with the Lord much later in Jeffrey’s life and to commemorate the 12th anniversary, Jeffrey wrote a special tribute. The written version is touching…the video version on Jeffrey’s YouTube channel makes me cry…every time.
In this special message, Jeffrey suggest that if you’re fortunate enough to still have your Dad, be sure to make the most of your time because you never know when it will run out. From his Little Gold Book of Yes Attitude, Jeffrey makes a similar suggestion…to call your Dad for advice…and to do it often…while you still have time.
In my life…these are some of the wisest and most impactful words of wisdom ever.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
As I stated above, my pastor, Dr. Jack Graham from Prestonwood Baptist Church, often teaches that love is a decision or choice, not a feeling. I firmly believe in the concept of “acting your way into feeling” rather than “feeling your way in acting”. The former will lead you to a life of mission and purpose. The latter will leave you with life on a roller coaster ride.
If you’re struggling with a relationship, there can be healing. It may not be easy but it will be worth it. The Bible is full of God’s promises and one of my absolute life verses is
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Best of luck in your journey.