When I first heard about NPR’s “This I Believe”, I was so excited. I thought I’d have no trouble coming up with a few pithy paragraphs that crystallized my beliefs.
Then I started to think about what I would say. I was stumped. Everything I thought to write about I found a way to discount. Many of my once strongly-held beliefs have become minimized, marginalized, incrementalized by conditions, mitigating factors, exceptions. It felt so complicated.
As I filtered through all the possibilities, I found a reason to discard all but one unequivocal belief.
I believe, no, I know, my father loves me. He loves me without reservation, without condition, without my needing to be different and without his needing to be right (though he usually is).
Like the time just before I left home for college and he sat me down for the pre-college talk. No, not about sex, drinking, partying, going to class or studying. He wanted to talk business.
“So honey”, he says. “What do you think you want to major in?” I say, “Well, Dad, I want to help people. I think I’ll study sociology or maybe psychology”. “That’s nice” he patiently replies. “What do you do with a sociology or psychology degree?” I thought a moment, “Well, I think you go to more school.” Heavy pause. “Honey, four years from now, your on your own and your gonna need a job. I think you should major in business.”
So I did. Four years later, I graduated with degrees in accounting and finance. Today, 25 years later, I help people – business people. I’m a business coach and there’s nothing else on the planet I’d rather do.
As a kid, whenever I would call my dad at work, he always took my call and talked to me as long as I needed to talk, even though he’s not much of a talker himself. Whether I called about a bad test score or scraped knee, he made me feel that there was nothing at work more important than me.
At the lowest points of my life, he’s been the first person I’ve called. Like when I miscarried, again, after 23 weeks of pregnancy or when I separated from my husband soon thereafter. When I’ve felt like my life was falling apart, my dad has always been there to help me pick up the pieces.
My dad’s love for me has emboldened me to step in to who I am. His unwavering support has been foundational to my growing into, well, me. There is no greater gift that he could give me.
Two and a half years ago, I finally gave birth to my one and only child, a boy. I can only imagine how much more complicated his life will be. And if he can be certain about only one thing, I want him to believe, to know, that I love him, the way I know my father loves me.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.