My daddy and I rode home together every afternoon the first summer I enrolled in college. Only 17 years old, my parents had wisely chosen to keep me close. Thirty miles of country road allowed us plenty of time to talk, debate, or simply sit in silence. There were no cell phones, and looking back, the sum total of those minutes—mountaintop gifts I hold near and dear. A couple of conversations stand out. This is one:
Me: Waving a piece of paper. "I got my grades today."
Daddy: Signature cutting of the eyes and tweak of the salt-n-pepper mustache. "Oh yeah? How are they?"
Me: "A in English, B in History, C in College Algebra"
Daddy: Slow nod, eyes on the road and a slight shrug of the shoulders. "Okay."
Me: A little miffed at the nonchalance. "Okay what?" (Add in a dash of sass for more realistic tone)
Daddy: Deep breath. (He took those often when talking to me.) "Amanda, if that's the best you can do, then that's what your mother and I will expect moving forward."
Insert Life Changing Moment
Here's the thing. My daddy was a wise man and knew his only daughter like the back of his hand. Our similarities outnumbered our differences and he honed in on a game changer. There was no lecture, no punishment, no threat.
Daddy intentionally said what daddy knew would provoke change.
He pricked my pride.
And I was hot mad.
We didn't say much more about my grades that quarter. I continued junior college, waitressed and began making choices that would eventually define my career path. After packing two years of courses into 5 quarters, I applied and was accepted into a state university.
And I never made another C again. Or a B.
Looking back, my father gave me one of the greatest gifts that summer afternoon. He not only challenged my pride, but he encouraged me to hold up a mirror to my motivation. Why go for the A? What does it matter? Why is it important? Was it for them? Was it for my friends? Or was it for me? It all came back to this. I craved the intrinsic satisfaction of knowing I gave 1000%. And that endorphin hit after acing a test, a project, or a semester? Addicting.
Fast forward a few years, and my heavenly father challenged me on another level. That conversation went something like this:
Me: Hands thrown up in the air. "I'm done. At the end of myself. If I have to live another day like today, I'd choose not to."
Heavenly Father: "Yes, you are at the end of yourself. You've done the best you can do. Is it enough?"
Me: "No!" (Add in a ton of sass and angry tears for a more realistic tone.)
Heavenly Father: "Am I enough?"
Me: Very miffed. "What?!"
Heavenly Father: "I am close to the brokenhearted and I save those with crushed spirits. Remember?"
Me: Sucking of teeth. "Yes!"
Heavenly Father: "Will you check your pride and achievements? Allow me to bind up the shattered pieces of your heart and shape you into the image you were created to be? Am I enough?"
Me: Gulp. Head nod.
Is it important to do your best? Yes.
Is it good to be motivated by the intrinsic as opposed to the extrinsic? Yes.
Is it enough? No.
What's the answer? Him
These lessons from Daddy may seem unrelated, but both stand out as pivotal points in my development. The end result of both conversations shaped me into who am I today.
And you know what?
I have no doubt—despite my screw-ups, my intentional disregard for what I know is right, and my I'm too tired to do the right thing moments—both Daddies are looking down on me with immense love and tenderness.
Moving with Scribbles,
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.