The Best Lessons

Today is my dad’s birthday. Whenever I think of my very best teachers, I can’t help but think of my dad. Some of the best lessons I’ve ever learned, I learned from him. Here are a few things that my dad taught me: 

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My dad is a talker. He’s also a preacher, so I guess the talking part is kind of a job requirement. His lectures, at times, often reached an excruciating length. During my oh-so-pleasant teenage years I would sit there and think, “He has to be almost done. He’s literally said the same thing 20 TIMES now!” But with all that chatter came lessons. He loved to tell us stories, give us advice, and impart wisdom.  He was always telling us things, teaching us things. And they are some of the best lessons I’ve ever learned.

One of my dad’s favorite sayings is “and them some.” His advice to us was always to exceed expectations, to worker harder and do more than just what we were required to do. When someone asked something of us, the best thing we could do was do that thing well and then a little bit more. It was about doing our best, yes, but it was also about building an ethic and a habit of considering other people, of treating others the way we hoped to be treated.

He also liked to tell us about his glory days on the baseball field or the basketball court. He tried (unsuccessfully) to teach me how to swing a tennis racket and hit a baseball.  He taught me a little more successfully how to ride a bike. He taught me about passion—how to win and how to lose (although I may still be working on the “gracefully” part). When you see me screaming at the TV during a Carolina game, unable to sit still because my emotions are running wild—I learned that from my dad.

He taught me the value of money, how to save and how to live within my means. He taught me the importance of helping others when I can and the value of giving when I have much to give and when I have little. My dad taught me how to be selfless, how to serve.

Of course, most of what I learned from dad, I learned from watching—from the way he lives his life. He taught me that mashed potatoes should never come from a box and the best days are the ones you spend with a really good book. He showed me how to be there for others, how to love them well, but when to step back and let other people use their gifts, too. My dad taught me how to work hard and the importance of doing my best. He taught me how to pray and how to extend grace. He taught me that the best, most important things in life—like God, family, and Carolina basketball—should be loved deeply and passionately and with everything you are.

He taught me the very best lessons.

Happy Birthday, Dad! Thank you for teaching me—even when I didn’t want to learn. 

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