For several years, too many for me to remember, my dad has given me a book on writing for Christmas.
Most of them I’ve read. Some I’ve skimmed and others I know I may never tackle (Vladimir Nabokov Lectures on Russian Literature falls into this category…sorry, Dad!) But one thing is certain: I love these books.
Every volume in my “Books from Dad” collection is of precious value to me. You see, my dad started giving me these books long before I ever started taking myself serious as a writer. And likewise, my dad believed in me as a writer, long before I ever did.
I remember the first few years when I’d open his Christmas gift. While I loved the idea, I hated the feeling it put in my gut. The reminder that I should be writing. The conviction that I was ignoring my dream. The fear of disappointing my dad.
But at the same time there was such comfort, such hope found in the act of unwrapping those books. The promise of someday. The gentle reminder of what my heart was for. The knowledge that no matter what my dad was never going to stop believing in me.
I don’t know when my dad started to see me as a writer. Perhaps it was in the third grade when I started keeping a journal full of stories, poems, and random entries about my family and friends. Or maybe it was in high school when I gave up basketball for a spot on the newspaper staff. Regardless of when and how, my dad saw something in me. Something worth supporting anyway he could.
Through all the years I played ring-around-the-rosie with my desire to write. Through all the years I believed I couldn’t be a writer. Through all the years I procrastinated and barely wrote one word. My dad sat on the sidelines and waited in my cheering section, patiently prodding, refusing to give up, convinced to his core that I was a writer.
I can’t begin to describe how profound this is for me. To know in some deep, deep place of my mind and my heart that even when I didn’t believe in myself, my dad was always there believing in me. To not feel forced, coerced, or beat over the head with my father’s demands or expectations but lovingly coaxed, creatively encouraged, and faithfully believed in, beyond what I deserved, has played a massive role in making me the writer I am today.
I share this with you on Father’s Day because I think it’s a great reminder for dads (and moms) to carefully observe our children. To watch them. To notice what moves them, what makes their hearts sing.
What brings light and life to their eyes?
What fills them with laughter and joy?
What makes them jump with excitement?
What do you find them doing when no one is watching?
All of these are clues. As your children learn and grow, keep watching, keep observing. Look for ways to nudge and guide. Take advantage of opportunities to support and encourage. Always, always let them know that you love them no matter what and that you believe in the person God created them to be.
I am so blessed to have both a mother and father that have done this for me. They watched me, observed me, and supported me beyond my own belief. And now I get to do the same, to carry on the tradition, for my girls.
At five and two I’m just beginning to see my daughters’ passions and pursuits shine through. Their dreams for tomorrow change almost daily and vary from marrying their daddy to having one hundred children someday. But you can bet I’m watching them. I’m watching for that spark in their eyes, that joy in their heart.
As for my dad, I realized long ago that the real gift he’s given me each Christmas isn’t a book but the tangible reminder of his belief in me, even when, especially when I didn’t believe in myself.
I wish I knew how to thank my dad for his love, support, and encouragement. For his refusal to let me quit and his faithful confidence in me. But I don’t.
All I can do is write.
Don’t forget, today is the last day to enter my drawing for a copy of I Like Giving by Brad Formsma. (A great gift idea for dad!) For more info click here.
Thank you to everyone who has entered, shared a link, and/or left a comment. I have enjoyed reading all your great ideas on how to keep giving going!