I usually write about food, weight loss, and the mental strategies to be successful. Today’s going to be different.
Unfortunately, my dad passed away on February 23rd. He was a loving, colorful man who shaped my life in so many ways. I’ve been processing things (as most of us do when we lose a loved one) and felt compelled to share. Whether you’ve lost a parent or still have both, maybe some of this will be beneficial and help enrich your relationships.
You are good.
Like all of us, my dad had his fair share of struggles. These struggles would often bring him down. He would sometimes feel inadequate, regretful, and just bad in general. The sad irony is the very reason he would have these feelings is because he was a good man with a good heart. Ya see what I’m saying? I’m pretty sure Hitler never sat down and cried about things he did. Only good people feel remorse or sorrow. So the fact that you (or my dad) ever have these negative feelings is proof that you actually are indeed a good person!
The problem comes when we get trapped in that negative state. Suddenly the “bully in our brain” (that little voice in our head) convinces us that’s who we are – inadequate, incapable, no good, just bad. It can become our identity, the way we subconsciously view ourselves. And it’s a lie.
Let me tell you the truth right here right now …
You ARE a good man – a good woman – a good mom – a good dad – a good son, daughter, brother, sister, friend. And the more you believe it, the more you’ll act it out. The more it will be true.
My dad was full to the brim with love! Such an incredible, loving man that always gave me a hug, kiss on the cheek, and told me how much he loved me. So, there’s no doubt in my mind he was good … and so are you. Now, believe it and go live it out.
Love is always the answer.
I chose to love my dad through his struggles. He chose to love me through my struggles.
We all have a choice. And love is always the right answer. Love doesn’t mean you ignore the messy stuff. Love means you see the mess, then step into it and help if you can. If you can’t, then you just console, connect, and encourage. Sometimes, that can be challenging, but maybe the toughest part is realizing that …
Love is not about you. It’s about them. That may sound all sacrificial, but the really cool part is – choosing love is not only the best thing for them, it’s by far the best for you too. I could NOT imagine my dad’s funeral and saying goodbye if I had not chosen love time and time again. Now, I am at peace just like dad.
Forgiveness and gratitude are second only to love.
What I’m about to share is one of the simplest, yet most difficult and most powerful things you can ever understand and embrace. Ya ready?
Some people will never change and you have to be okay with that.
You can only control you. What others do or don’t do is usually not about you … it’s about them. Once you realize this, you can truly begin to forgive. Because love and gratitude are only possible with forgiveness. It’s pretty much impossible to love someone or be grateful when you’re still mad or hurt about this or that.
So, maybe the bigger question we should ask ourselves is –
Why do this person’s actions have such tremendous impact on me?
What am I telling myself their decisions say about me?
If we can just remember that their decisions are about them, not me, it makes understanding and forgiveness so much easier. We can begin to shift our focus, gain a certain level of freedom, and become grateful for all the good stuff.
That’s like the pinnacle of human relationships.
It can be dang hard, but it’s more than worth the effort. It frees you up to love that person for who they are, for who they’re not, and to be at peace with it. It also liberates you to live a life that is not constantly swayed by someone else’s actions. Then, and only then, can you really focus on all the great stuff and be genuinely thankful for it. Before you know it, all the great stuff begins to outshine all the not-so-good stuff and you learn how to love that person (and yourself!) better and better. It’s a beautiful thing, but getting there is often a bumpy journey.
If you don’t have a relationship with God or an active spiritual life … I don’t know how you do it.
Look, I’m not going to start beating my Bible and preaching. And I’m certainly not casting judgement or speaking from a pedestal. Actually, quite the contrary. I am weak and flawed and certainly don’t understand everything about this life. And for all of those reasons, I need – want – and crave a relationship with God, my heavenly Father. I cannot fathom losing my earthly dad without having a heavenly dad to lean on and sink into.
Look, I don’t know what your history is with church … or what your views are about God or religion. Sadly, for some, it’s messy and kind of terrible. Humans may have left a rancid taste in your mouth about God. If I experienced your story, I’d probably have the exact same thoughts and feelings that you do. Here’s all I’m saying – don’t let flawed, self-righteous humans prevent you from a relationship with a God who’s full of grace, forgiveness, and loves you like crazy.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Make it simple. Talk to God like a friend – genuinely and openly. And I guarantee you’ll be amazed at what happens in your life and mind and heart. It makes all this other love, forgiveness, and gratitude stuff so much easier.
So, from the bottom of my heart …
Dad, you were a good man and I’m honored to be your son. Sure you were flawed, just like me and everyone else, but that’s part of being human. We’re all just a product of something, someone, or some situation … doing as good as we can with what we’ve got.
So, thanks for always loving me and never hesitating to show it. Thanks for your honesty. Thanks for being fun. Thanks for teaching me how to play basketball. Thanks for cultivating and connecting with a deep love of music.
And thanks for such a close, genuine relationship where we could talk about anything without worrying about being judged. It meant more than you know and helped shape me into the man I am today. I love you Pops.