My father passed away unexpectedly in 2008. He was not a wealthy man and as a result, the possessions he left behind didn’t consist of much. I inherited a small life insurance policy (which barely covered his burial expenses), a coin collection, and a few other small items around his house that I decided to keep as reminders of him. However, none of those things meant more to me than the words he wrote on the back of his life insurance policy file. It was only a short paragraph that he wrote to my sister and me, but it meant so much more because at that moment I was never able to speak to my father again. I would never hear his voice again. But those words gave me the ability to hear his voice one last time. They essentially became the last words my father ever spoke to me.
Now, as I reflect on the power of those few words, and how they’ve impacted my life, it’s prompted me to take some time to write a series of letters to my children. These letters reflect the things that if I were to die today, I feel they absolutely must know about life. They are the lessons and beliefs that I hold most dear to my heart. They are the lessons I have learned from my greatest successes and even more so, from my greatest failures thus far in my life.
Letter to My Children – #1
Madeline and Pierson,
When my dad passed away in 2008, I found that he had written the following words to your Aunt Tracy and me on the back of his life insurance policy folder:
“I know that as a father I really did a poor job. I really didn’t know or understand what I needed to in order to be a good father. No one ever took the time to teach me.”
Now before I go any further, let me first say this: I loved my Dad very much and miss him everyday. I have also forgiven him for any of his shortcomings as a man and father to me. With that being said, I can also admit that he was correct. He was a poor father. And when I examine those last words he wrote to me I see one of the largest reasons why he failed. And it wasn’t because “no one ever took the time to teach him.” He failed in his life and failed at being a good father for the same reason so many people fail. It’s because he didn’t take responsibility!! Rather than taking responsibility for his failure…he left me an excuse! He essentially blamed his father. “I didn’t know how to be a good father…because no one ever taught me.” It’s not my fault…he said!
You absolutely must understand that a true man (or woman) always takes responsibility. He never makes excuses. The majority of people fail in life because they haven’t taken responsibility for their current circumstances. They are failing in business and they blame the market, or their company, or their boss. They have marriages that are failing and they blame their spouse. They are failing in their finances and they blame the economy and the President. They are overweight and out of shape and they blame their metabolism. They don’t make it to the gym and say it’s because they don’t have enough time in the day. No matter the problem or area of life in which they are failing, they are always blaming someone or something other than themselves. These people will never achieve success. They will be doomed to a life of failure, mediocrity, and unhappiness. You were not created for this!
I am not saying that there are not factors and circumstances outside of your control that will have an effect on your life. There are! What I want you to know though, is that the men and women who succeed and conquer always know that they have the power to change their life in any area. They make the choice to focus on that 1% that is within their control, rather than the 99% that is not. And they know and believe in their heart that if they take responsibility for that 1%, they will be able to change the entire outcome.
I am not telling you anything that our God has not already told us. Didn’t He teach us the law of sowing and reaping? The life you have today is a result of the seeds that were sown yesterday. The life you will have tomorrow will be the result of seeds you sow today. You cannot defy this spiritual law. Our God has the power to create, and according to His word you were made in His image and likeness. If you don’t like what you have created…. then create something different! But whatever you do, please do not make excuses and blame someone or something else for the life you have created.
Take responsibility for your life. Knowledge and wisdom and counsel are everywhere. You have no excuse. (Galatians 6:7-8) Love, Dad
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