I realize now.
I was watching.
Watching him come home every night for dinner. Watching him visit elderly shut-ins. Watching him pick up a teenager walking to school in the rain. Watching him giggle while spinning me around the house in an elephant stomp polka. Watching him look people in the eye, making them feel like the only person in the room.
Watching him show up to every musical, every concert, every recital. Watching him love and preach Jesus. Watching him accept an awful diagnosis with no regrets. Watching him encourage nurses. Watching him pray for my husband to be. Watching him shake people’s hands as he walked me down the aisle. Watching him bravely stand during my wedding. Watching him put everyone else first. Watching him die.
Watching his life.
I was always watching.
It wasn’t until much, much, later that I processed the whole reality of all I had seen in the 23 years I had been a part of his 49 years on earth.
Because so much more happens in the watching. And while I was watching, he was inviting me to participate in his life, his loves, his adventures, his passions. Because without even trying, he was showing me what was important with his life by what he did. Where he showed up. How he lived.
Sure, he TOLD me he loved Jesus. But I SAW it when he picked up his bible and spent time in it.
Sure, he TOLD me he loved me. But I SAW it when he took me to Hardee’s for hot ham and cheese sandwiches and asked me about my heart.
Sure, he TOLD us family was important. But I SAW it when he would lay in bed with my brother every night, listening to John Maxwell leadership tapes until Trav fell asleep.
I started flipping through old photos of my family, and in many of them, my brother and I are looking on – watching my dad. And so much of who he was is who I have become. Love for Jesus, love for my daughter, love for my family.
But this Father’s Day, I’m thinking about how my girl is watching me. Watching my husband.
Watching Brady take me out for omelets. Watching Brady tell us to get on our shoes for a family walk. Watching him challenge friends and family to read the Bible in a month. Watching him challenge our church to lead someone to Jesus this year. Watching her daddy show up with “surprises” for his girls. Watching her dad spend countless hours passing a soccer ball with her.
She is watching him. And sure, he TELLS her he loves her. But just like my own dad showed me, Kayden can SEE her own father’s love.
We need words. We need to say them. But we also need evidence of those words. Action. And my own life is proof that what is modeled before us becomes participation – something we will most likely do ourselves.
Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” My dad, my husband, me, none of us can claim credit for the good things we’ve done while our kids watch us. But we can keep following Jesus. He’s the one who makes us worthy of being “watchable”.
So, if we think about it, whether we are dads, moms, sisters, brothers, friends, what are we teaching a watching world about us? Because we can say all the words. But do our actions speak those same words? Or do they prove the opposite?
My father taught me so many things. But so much more of it – his way with people, his love for his family, his heart for Jesus – was taught because I was watching.
It’s a good reminder this Father’s Day. And every day. Because who knows who’s watching?
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