A Letter You Will Never Get…

Dear Dad,

I was reflecting back the other day on all the things you taught me growing up and I wanted to take sometime to jot down my appreciation to you.

I first want to thank you for the way that you taught me to behave. I never realized how effective it was when I was young, but now I see. The way you would get really frustrated at me for my disobedience and vent all that frustration back at me. I thought it was really neat how you would try to mask your anger at me by saying you were “just frustrated” at me, all the while doing it in an angry tone. I knew you were angry, but I appreciated you trying to soften it up with the euphemism. I love how you interpreted every act of disobedience by me as a willful act of rebellion towards you, like not putting away my bike after playing for hours. I can’t be sure, but you were probably right in thinking that was a silent coup d’etat, and not just a kid being a kid. I am sure that I was actively trying to remove you as authority in my life. So again, being “frustrated” at me and being personally offended by my actions were probably the only appropriate heart posture. I see that now.

I loved how you taught me to be fully engaged when talking to you, guests, or my brothers and sisters. The way you were always checking your phone at dinner, on Facebook during our afternoon conversations, or how you would check sports scores while we were riding together in the van, taught me that to get your attention I needed to do something really big. You showed me the overall superiority of technology and how easy distracted we can sometimes get by people and deep relationships. You helped me see that valuing technology would be a needed skill since it will ever be changing and always be fighting for my attention.

I loved the way you taught me anything new, like sports. I felt so encouraged the way you would expect me to know how to do something the first time I tried. I love how you would show your confidence in my ability to pick up something new the first time, by getting so, you know, “frustrated” when I didn’t get it as soon as you thought. That really helped me out. It showed me that you had higher expectations for me than were even possible. I also appreciate the overall emphasis that you put on sports too. I can remember thinking that I was more than just what I could do physically, but you showed me different. My value is found on the court, or the field, or the track, depending on the season.

I could go on and on. How you taught me about relationships with girls by leaving me to figure it all out myself. That really helped me see that getting your heart tangled and broken a couple times is a great primer for marriage. Or the way you taught me to lead my family by expecting to be served. Of course, all good leaders deserve respect and service from others. I also loved the way that you were able to keep the things we did on Sunday completely separate and apart from anything else we did in our lives. I always disliked those kids that had a fully-formed worldview. I am glad that we were able to enjoy both the secular and the religious without ever sacrificing the two.



PS. You left your Harry Chapin CD here. I really loved that first song about the Cats in the Cradle. Poor kid.


About Todd Van Dyke

Father, Husband, Son, and most of all lover of Christ.
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