February 23, 2024
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I’m writing this on Father’s Day.

About an hour from now, it will be the day after Father’s Day. But I will never have a day when I don’t think about my father. I’ve never lived a single second of any day having to wonder if he loved me.

My father was the best man I have ever known, and I’ve known some incredible men. I don’t say that with arrogance. I’m obviously stating the obvious when I ask, who has any say in whom his or her father will be? Or, for that matter, whether he or she will be born American or a Ukrainian, or black or white, or into a wealthy family or a poor family, or brown-eyed or blue-eyed, or with “good” genes or “bad” ones?

Does it take much thought to realize that anyone who gives in to arrogance or prejudice or haughtiness of any sort regarding his or her birth situation is a fool?

We are all given at birth—at conception, really—an incredibly long list of genes, attributes, and circumstances over which we have exactly zero control. Eventually, the time comes when we begin to realize that, just by being born, just by being given that gift, we have been the passive recipients of both blessings and challenges. As we grow, we begin to be increasingly aware of both. Yes, and then we have some choices to make.

We’re here. What now?

Some people, given at birth a lot that is good, selfishly squander it. Others build on it, and live lives of blessing, gratitude, humility, and mercy.

Some people, given at birth a lot that is challenging, whine through life as victims stunted by resentment. Others choose to courageously build in the midst of difficulty, and live lives of blessing, gratitude, and mercy.

I was born with a boatload of everything good that truly matters. And I don’t for a moment pretend that I really understand the challenges of those born into great difficulty.

But think about it: In the final analysis, does any approach to life for any of us really “work” unless we find ways to embrace gratitude? To someone. For something.

Born into great abundance or born into deep difficulty, you and I had nothing to do with it. What then? Living a life of arrogance is stupid and helps no one. Living a life as a perpetual victim is equally foolish and helps no one.

Only gratitude “works.” I do not say that it is easy.

Nor did the Apostle Paul. Still he urges us to “be thankful in all circumstances.” Are you good at that? I’m not. But that changes the truth, just as real as the law of gravity and just as foolish to deny, not at all. We must deal with it. Gratitude is the only thing that really works and, multiplied out, produces a life direction that leads to growth and not despair.

Applied to fathers, I think it works like this.

If like me, you were given a wonderful father, remember that you did nothing to deserve that blessing. Be grateful to the Father of us all and ask Him for help to pass that blessing on to your children.

If like so many, you never knew your father or had a father who fell far short, remember that you did nothing to bring on that challenge. But be grateful nonetheless that you know now (and, oh, I hope you do!), that you have the best Father of all, and ask Him for help to give your children the blessing you have always longed for.

Here is the truth. All of us, whatever we were given at birth, were born by the will of a Father who could not possibly love us more and who will never choose to love us less.

That is the truth. If we know it, here’s the right response. Gratitude. Humility. Hope. Mercy. Grace.

Curtis K. Shelburne

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent


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