Rule # 27a D is for Done
A couple of my kids have been struggling with personal trials as well as academic ones. It has not been an easy couple of months, and at times like this I miss talking to my Dad for perspective. My Dad lead a remarkable life, and although he wasn’t much for fatherly talks , neither Donna nor I got many of those, he generally had a story or two for a situation. And on some special occasions the stories would actually be true. I miss those stories.
I encourage you to re-read the Eulogy given by Andreas Wagner pastor of St Peters Lutheran Church North Wales ( rule 27). In the year since it was delivered I re-read it a number of times and have found comfort in Pastor Wagner’s discussion of “grace”. His words gave me perspective on my life and my Dad’s.
Grace of God is at the same time the most complicated and simplest thing to understand. My Dad had the grace of God, but I don’t think he really understood it. He was just too damn busy.
I watch my son Stephen earn over 190 credits in Math and Physics with a 3.4 and struggle with the last two courses and feel overwhelmed. I watch my son Andrew work two jobs (along with Ashleigh) and push so hard for a new home, and wedding through so much effort. All things which I am proud of them for having accomplished…but
I wonder if I ever gave the lesson of God’s grace to them. That simple truth was that although their achievements are great, the love I have for them is unconditional as is the love from God.
I wonder in my effort to encourage strong, hard working kids I forgot to teach them that embracing God’s grace is the end goal, not the goal of getting to the finish line. The example of building the businesses I have started, and working the way I have may have given them the impression that that’s what life’s goals should be.
I failed Biology in my freshman year at Penn State, at which time that felt like it was the end of my life. I was going to have to become ditch digger for the rest of my life and live in poverty. The failure defined me, because I let it define me. I didn’t understand what depression was back then ( remember this was years before Dr. Phil) but I think that is what I was going through.
In the perspective gained over the last 36 years since getting that F I realize that God had a plan for me and that plan included that F. I was being lead somewhere and the lesson learned from that failure taught me more about life than any C every did. Sure it felt awful while it was happening, but what I didn’t fully understand was that all of it…the A’s and the F’s , the failures and the successes, the money earned and lost …all of it meant really nothing. What mattered was the love of God and the comfort of knowing I was living my life in his plan.
I miss my Dad and Mom everyday, this week is the 15th anniversary of the passing of my Mom. As I reflect in their lives I know that they loved me, and they were loved by God…and all the other things they did or did not do mattered about as much as that F in biology did in my life. Trust me, everyone reading this should be grateful I never was encouraged to be in any medical field- that F saved lives.
What makes a difference isn’t the money or grades, what makes a difference is the love of each other and the love, the grace from God.
I know you kids question the existence of God, and I know that this talk of unconditional love may sound strange from a man that helped set high expectations for each of you. But if all you understand is that I am most proud of you because of how you live your lives and not of what you accomplish, that is all you need to understand now. The rest will make sense later, with or without a belief in an All Mighty.
So as you work on that next final or wait on another table to save money, stop for a moment and recognize who loves you and embrace the grace. It isn’t the grade of some sad little college professor that defines us.. it is that grace shown in my love of you and the love from God. And with certainty I can tell you are both worthy of that grace and blessed with it.