When my precious—as well as precocious— grandson was only two years old he would delight us all at prayer time by exclaiming, ‘Thank you, God, for opportunities!” As I was reflecting upon Father’s Day, I thought of all of the opportunities and blessings I have had in life because of the excellent parenting I received from my now 94 year old father and 92 year old mother. My parents gave me many things—far too many to enumerate, but first and foremost, the gift of being raised with the knowledge of the truth of God, hearing HIs Word, and learning about His unconditional love for me, as well as their own love for me. They modeled integrity and a strong work ethic as my dad worked honestly, diligently and faithfully to provide me and my siblings with a home, food, clothing, and all of the other ‘basics’ of life, plus extras like summer vacations. In addition, they provided us the privilege of attending a wonderful Christian day school where I had the joy of being taught by wonderful teachers and interacting with great friends, one of whom is still my dearest ‘bosom friend’(as Anne of Green Gables would say). They also paid for me to go to college where I obtained an excellent education and also met my husband, who has been my greatest earthly gift, and together we have raised a family that blesses me beyond words.
I recognize that I’ve been granted many opportunities and blessings because of what my parents did for me. However, the Lord recently brought to my mind the many opportunities and blessings my parents gave to me because of the many things they did NOT do for me! I readily admit that as a child, and even into my early adult years, I don’t remember ever being grateful for the things my parents didn’t do for me. Now I can see the blessings they gave to me by not doing things for me, and most of those things would fall under the category of ‘discipline’—because they were ‘discipling’ me to follow in the path they had taken and they knew would be best for me, because it lined up with God’s Word. What they did for me makes me think of the verse below from Hebrews 12:11:
I wonder, have you ever thought of the blessings you have because of what was NOT given to you? Perhaps you’ll identify with several or all that I list below. Or, perhaps you need to think about what blessings you may be denying your children because you are acquiescing to their demands or doing things for them instead of requiring or allowing them to do things for themselves? In our culture where so many parents are focusing their lives upon meeting their child’s every whim, wish and command— which has resulted in self-indulged, self-centered, entertainment-saturated, lazy, ‘helpless’ children who are experiencing record levels of anxiety, depression, and suicide—I am so very grateful that my parents made it clear that although I was loved by God and loved by them, the world— as well as their lives— didn’t revolve around pleasing me, but rather my life was to revolve around pleasing God, and pleasing those whom He in His wisdom had placed in authority over me.
Although I know this is not an exhaustive list, I want to thank you, Dad and Mom, for the following things you did NOT do for me:
Thank you…for not giving into my temper tantrums when I was a young child. You taught me to submit to authority, that you knew better than I what was best for me, and that life isn’t about me having things ‘my way’. Exodus 20:12; Matthew 19:19; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:13-25; 5:5; Isaiah 43:7; Hebrews 13:17
Thank you…for not giving into my pleas that I shouldn’t have to do chores that I was fully capable of doing, even when I was in elementary school— like making my bed, cleaning the bathroom, setting and clearing the table, washing and drying the dishes, dusting and vacuuming. You taught me that I was a necessary member of the family who had an important role to play in helping our household to run efficiently and effectively. It also taught me that we must be entrusted with responsibilities if we are ever to become a ‘responsible person’. Interestingly, while writing this blog, an article from Town and Country Magazine popped up on my Facebook newsfeed that said that research proves that kids who do chores are more successful in life than those who aren’t assigned chores; the research just proves what is revealed in God’s Word!. Thanks,Mom and Dad, for insisting that I do chores because by doing so you helped me to become a more successful adult! Genesis 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; Proverbs 12:24; 13:4; 14:23;1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Thank you…for not allowing me to ‘get away with’ a subpar job on the chores that I was assigned to do. By teaching me that ‘whatever is worth doing is worth doing well’ I learned to do my best at whatever task I was assigned, whether at home, in the workplace, or in the community. Colossians 3:23-24;1 Corinthians 10:31
Thank you…for not speaking ‘for me’ when adults asked me questions. You taught me that I ‘had a voice of my own’ and that you trusted my ability to speak for myself. I learned to respect but didn’t feel intimidated by ‘my elders’ and I developed the confidence to engage in conversations with others. 1 Timothy 4:12
Thank you…for never saying things to me that would lead me to think that I was stupid or incapable of completing a task. You taught me that I had unique gifts that you encouraged me to use for God’s glory, with the assurance that whatever God led me to do, I could do through Him. Proverbs 15:1,4; Ephesians 4:2; Romans 12:6; Philippians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3;13;10:24;
Thank you…for not tolerating me saying that ‘I was bored’; for not allowing me to sit in front of a television all day; for not allowing me to talk on the phone to my friends without time limits and parental oversight. You taught me to be resourceful and productive. I learned that my life was not about fulfilling my selfish desires, but rather to be lived for a higher, greater purpose. Isaiah 43:7; Galatians 6:7-9; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 9:6
Thank you…for not allowing me to mope around, grumble or complain. You taught me that ‘attitude is everything’ and that when I started to feel sorry for myself that I should focus my thoughts upon all of my blessings rather than upon what I didn’t have that I thought I ‘deserved’. Habakkuk 3:18; Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Thank you…for not doing my daily homework or long-term projects, or ever ‘bailing me out’ of a situation when I procrastinated on an assignment. You taught me that I was capable of learning new things and able to do work on my own. I also learned that no one else was going to get the credit—or blame—for what was my responsibility to do. You enabled me to become resourceful and to develop skills I might not otherwise have developed—like time management and goal setting.And, by not doing for me what I could do, I gained a healthy self-confidence and experienced the satisfaction and joy of accomplishing tasks, something I relish today. 1 Timothy 5:8; Galatians 6: 5-15
Thank you…for not being laissez faire or afraid to discipline me when I deserved it. You taught me that true love means meting out discipline to show that there are consequences for the choices we make. I learned the importance of obeying your word, and more importantly, the importance of obeying the Word of God. Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6; Ephesians 6:1-4; John 14:15; 2 John 1:6
Thank you…for not giving into my pleas as a teenager to go to movies, hang out with people, and attend events that you deemed inappropriate. You taught me that life isn’t all about me and my getting my ‘wants’ met and that I must submit to God and those whom He placed in authority over me. You also taught me that the ideas we allow into our minds and the people with whom we associate can be either positive or detrimental to our character, and character counts. Proverbs 9:6; 13:20; 23:7;1 Corinthians 15:33
Thank you…for not buying me the toys, stuffed animals, or other fleeting pleasures I begged you to get for me as I was growing up. And thank you for not buying me a car—which a lot of my peers got— when I turned 16 or when I went off to college. You taught me to be a good steward of the money God entrusts us with; the importance of living within our means; that we should not make purchases in order ‘to keep up with the ‘Jones’s’; and that ‘things’—which lose their initial appeal or value over time— will never buy a person happiness. You also taught me that there is a ‘time for everything’; you would occasionally say ‘yes’ to something special that I really wanted, and when you did, it was very meaningful and not something I took for granted. And thanks for the older, used car you gave me my senior year in college, which was when I needed one for my internship and also when I was more mature and better able to handle that responsibility. Psalm 24;1;Exodus 20:17; Ecclesiastes 3:1; Proverbs 22;7; 25:29; Romans 13:8; Philippians 4:11-12; Matthew 25:21
Thank you…for never putting pressure upon me to achieve high grades so that I could get into the ‘right’ school, and for never putting pressure upon me to attend a particular college, or trying to manipulate my admission into a particular school. The Hollywood elite who recently made headlines for trying to buy their children’s admission into various upper echelon universities revealed not only their dishonesty, but also their belief that their children’s value—or perhaps their own— was tied to the institution of higher learning that their child attended. I am so grateful that my parents taught me that my value wasn’t based upon my grade point, my achievements in school, the college I attended or the career I chose, but instead was based upon my being a child of God, created in His image. Psalm 139:14; Matthew 6:26; 10:29-31;
Thank you…for not putting pressure upon me to pursue a particular career choice. You taught me to pursue the passion that the Lord had put on my heart, rather than fulfilling your dream of what I should do or encouraging me to base my career choice upon a salary attached to a particular career.I learned that you trusted me with such an important life choice, that it was up to me to take responsibility for the direction I would take in my life, and that I was capable of listening to God to determine the direction I should take. Psalm 25:8; Isaiah 30:21; Matthew 7:7; Psalm 37:4
Most of all… thank you for not making me the center of your life. Thank you for never making me feel that your happiness and joy was dependent upon my performance, my ‘success’ or my happiness. Thank you for demonstrating by your actions as well as your words that I am very important to and greatly loved by you, but that your life was- as it still is— centered upon God. Your modeling of a life focused upon God and living for His glory has led me to make God the center of my life too, which is the reason that I have peace, joy and a fulfilled life. Matthew 22:37; Philippians 4:6-7; Proverbs 3
Happy Father’s Day to my dad and to all dads. I am especially thankful for the greatest ‘Dad’ of all, our Heavenly Father, who did NOT give us what we deserved— death, hell and damnation— but has given to all of us who believe forgiveness from our sin, power over sin, abundant life here on earth, and the sure promise of life with Him for all eternity! That is indeed something for all of us who are His children to celebrate!
Written by Julie Van Gorp