Other people think that they have the world’s best dad. They spend their money on #1 Dad t-shirts and mugs, presenting these gifts on that day in June. But they’re wasting their money. Because there can only be one #1 dad, and I am 99.99% sure that I’ve got him. I know that’s a bold statement, and please know that I am being mostly sarcastic about people wasting their money. Other people have great dads. It’s just that mine is the best.
Before you think I’m just blowing smoke, let me tell you a little bit about why my dad is the best.
1. He rebuilt 5 VW Beetles. 4 of those were with his kids. Why is this so significant? Do you know how long it takes to successfully rebuild a car? We’re not just talking about a new paint job and new interior. I wish that was all it took. We’re talking body-off-the-chassis, welding-new-side-panels, rebuild-that-engine kind of restoration. In my family, this took upwards of two years for each car. My dad gave up more than 300 Saturdays, holidays, and evenings to grow closer to his kids and teach them valuable lessons. How many daughters can say that for a year and a half she knew that each Saturday she would have the whole day to spend with her dad? Granted, it wasn’t always butterflies and rainbows. That same daughter would probably say that rebuilding a car sounds more glamorous than it actually is. I’m guessing it took that daughter a couple of years to realize the value of all those Saturdays, all those holidays, all those evenings with her father. But those times were spent talking about life, listening to books written by highly intelligent people, and asking hard questions. That’s a cool dad.
2. He is incredibly compassionate. Let me share a little story with you. Recently my family and I were traveling home from Italy. The whole journey home was stressful. From problems back home, to train confusion in Italy, we were just incredibly thankful to board our 8 hour flight to New York where we would catch a two-hour flight to Chicago. In New York, however, our flight was delayed because we were missing a crew member. At the same time, we realized that two bands of strong storms were headed straight for NYC. That’s not comforting. There was a small window in which we could get out of the airport and get home. After sitting on the tarmac for three hours, we had to return to our gate and our flight was cancelled. We were stuck in New York when all we wanted to do was go home and try to get on the right time zone. As we stood in line to reschedule a flight, my dad noticed a girl about my age not too far in front of us. She was in tears, obviously alone, and saying something about not having any more money. We rescheduled our flight while we stood in line via a phone call to the airline and saw the girl step out of the line. I recognized the compassion in my dad’s voice immediately and knew that we were about to have another family member for 24 hours. Without thinking twice, we sat with her and found out what her situation was. In a few minutes we were headed to collect our bags with her by our side. She stayed in the hotel with us, walked around New York with us, and ate with us. This incredible quality, his compassion, his empathy, his listening to the Holy Spirit, is something I want to have. I don’t want to eavesdrop on people’s problems. Rather, I want to look past myself to notice those in need around me. That’s what my dad does. While in Italy, he found himself helping multiple people, whether it was with carrying a lady’s luggage over a bridge in Venice or helping an older couple figure out the train station, or helping 3 or 4 families figure out the boat taxis in Venice. He never eavesdropped. He simply noticed others and listened to the Holy Spirit. That’s what I want to do.
3. He’s hilarious. Of course every dad has their “dad” jokes. The ones that make you moan and want to find the nearest book store so you can find a good joke book to give to him as a present for Father’s Day. Yes, my dad has those jokes too. He loves puns. I don’t know why. But he does. But he is also one of the funniest people I have met. He sees situations in a different light than most people. This different perspective is the source of so many of his great jokes. I love laughing with him. I love when we both can’t breath and tears are rolling down our eyes. My family laughs a lot. It’s something that I’ve found to be a bit unique to us, and I love it. And yes, I even love his dry jokes, although I am very thankful for the not so dry ones.
4. He is incredibly wise. I remember when I would come home from school and have homework. Usually homework wasn’t too big of a problem. Yet, every once in a while math would stump me. Algebra was my biggest enemy. We would always learn a specific process to complete our homework questions, and, taking after my mom’s inability to break rules, I felt that I needed to follow it to a T. My dad could care less about that. He would always help me with my homework by showing me his method. I remember thinking that he was completely wrong and I shouldn’t remember what he taught me because it was wrong. High school kids can be dumb like that. Over the years, I’ve realized that my dad is brilliant. He’s brilliant with math. He’s brilliant with business. He’s brilliant with leadership. He’s obtained a lot of this from two sources. 1. The Bible. 2. Everything else. He never hesitates to pass down what he has been learning lately. I feel ahead of the curve of some people my age because of the wisdom he has passed down. What I especially love is the way he equips others with the tools they need to become wise. He has so much invested in me, and a small fragment of that investment is money. The rest comes in the form of books, conferences, summer camps, conversations, and daily life. I’m an incredibly lucky girl to have so much invested in me.
5. He’s unafraid to address the tough stuff. In my house we call it the last 10%. In a conflict, there is usually 10% that is kept hidden, at least in words.That 10% usually comes out in actions, emotions, and otherwise after the conflict is “resolved.” This 10% can sometimes do more damage than people realize. My family has been addressing the elephant in the room and speaking the last 10% since 1993, or as long as I can remember. It’s tough. It has led to some incredibly difficult conversations and uncomfortable feelings. Conflict is not my thing. I would rather whack my finger with a hammer than address conflict. But my family is stronger because we address the last 10%. This, of course, is a joint effort between my mom and dad. It’s not just my dad, but is a concept that my dad has drilled into my brain. Don’t run from conflict. Don’t run from the elephant in the room. It has made my family better and has grown me as a person.
The World’s Best Dad deserves a much longer list. I’m just afraid I’ve lost readers at this point. As it is, I’m on a flight and have been writing this for about an hour. I don’t want to bore you.
Here’s what I want to do. I want to spark a fire in you. I want you to read this and say, “well, yea, that’s all great stuff, but my dad is the World’s Best Dad. Here’s why…”
And then I want you to go tell your dad why he is so great. And I want you to do that more than once a year. My dad carries such a burden for my family. I don’t tell him enough how much I love and appreciate him. On top of that I rarely tell him specifically why I love him so much. Dad’s need to hear that. They need to hear why we appreciate them. They don’t need more ties, more mugs, more t-shirts. They need appreciation, heartfelt and genuine thanks.
So, Dad, thank you. Thank you for all that you have taught me. Thank you for over 100 days in the garage, rebuilding a car I complained about far too often. Thank you for the wisdom you impart to me daily. Thank you for your humor; keep the puns coming. Thank you for teaching me to be compassionate. Thank you for teaching me to be led by the Holy Spirit. Thank you for the boundaries you set up for you and mom and for the boundaries for our family. Thank you for challenging me to do hard things. Thank you for teaching me to ask good questions, and thank you for asking me hard questions. And thank you for speaking the last 10%, for addressing the elephant in the room.
Thank you for a million other things. You are the World’s Best Dad.