Sacrifice – A Lesson Learned From a Purpose Driven Father
My dad is a beast. He attacks life like a cornered animal fighting for his last breath. He never seems to rest and claws for every inch of what is available and good on earth. Life has not come easy for Dad. He was never given much, he earned everything he has now and paid the price physically, emotionally and mentally to get it. He created enemies, he earned the respect of his peers, and formed lasting friendships, but it’s his actions as my father that impacted me the most.
For Dad, everything in life is situational and most things are negotiable. He embarrasses me when he challenges a sales person on the price or scours the ends of the earth for the best deal, but in one area in his life he never waivers and that is his commitment to his family. Dad can be a hard man and I’ve witnessed it firsthand as he can be difficult to deal with even with the little things, but the edges around his demeanor softens when it came to the ways of my sister and me.
When I was very young, my earliest memories are fond ones. I thought life was perfect as I played through long summer days loitering the streets of my neighborhood with my cronies. I never noticed that my mom and dad worked themselves to death to make ends meet and that we didn’t have a lot of money. Dad never brought his frustrations of his work life and finances around me. I was clueless and thought we had everything, but I was wrong.
Mom and Dad purchased my childhood home for $13,000, fully furnished. We drove modest cars and didn’t eat out a lot. Mom’s monthly grocery budget was $100. We weren’t poor, but we weren’t going on long exotic vacations either.
I grew up stress free and was prone to trust everyone I met, so it was not surprising when I lost stuff or things were stolen from me. One spring, my prized possession, my bicycle, was stolen from our porch. I was devastated. A bicycle, to a young 9 year old boy equaled status, it was a passport to freedom and fun in the neighborhood. Without it, I was relegated to longingly watching my friends speed up and down the street on their bikes without me, my summer would be ruined. However, hope loomed as my 10th birthday was only weeks away and I dreamed of getting a new bicycle that I could flaunt in the neighborhood.
In the 80’s, there was no internet, but there were catalogs and the Sears catalog ruled the land. I was thrilled when it came to the house, courtesy of the neighborhood mail man. I spent hours leafing through its pages looking for the perfect bike. I couldn’t wait to show my parents and was bursting with excitement when I finally got their attention and proudly showed them the bike I wanted for my birthday.
Dad’s eyes broke from mine and he stared at the floor. He didn’t say anything, but even at that age I knew something was wrong. My parents couldn’t afford a new bike, but Dad didn’t want to disappoint me. He looked up at me and spoke the truth, “That sure is a great bike, son, but I’m not sure if we can get that for you. Just in case, is there anything else you would like?” My heart sank, I knew what that meant. I wouldn’t get the bike I cherished. My shoulders slumped and the excitement left my body as I skimmed through the glossy pages of the Sears catalog and chose a basketball as my consolation prize.
Eventually my birthday came and my friends gathered in the living room of our home after we played games and ate cake. It was time for my gift, the basketball I choose a few weeks before, but that was not what Dad planned for me that day. He knew I wanted a bike and he approached it as he always did and has done my entire life, he figured it out, and he gave something up and sacrificed for his family.
He and Mom figured out a way to get me a new bike. To this day, I’m not even sure how they did it, I just remember the sight of my dad’s broad smile when he came in the living room pushing a new bike for the world and my neighborhood friends to see. My heart leaped from my chest as I lunged for my new prize followed by my friends squealing with excitement and joy as we poured out into the streets that afternoon riding our bikes until darkness forced us back home.
My dad sacrificed so I could have something that I thought was important. Looking back, the bike was cool and my summer was awesome cruising with my friends, but the love my dad showed me through his sacrifice for me, is what fills me with joy now.
Sacrifice, it’s what good fathers do for their kids. When a child is born, a father’s life is altered forever, for it is his awesome responsibility to care for that child until he is called home to be with the Lord. My dad never shied away from that responsibility and continues to sacrifice for me today.
The ultimate example of sacrifice is that of the Holy Father as He gave the world His only Son for our sins. Fathers are supposed to sacrifice and my dad is brilliant at it and for that I am grateful and strive to emulate for my kids.