Hey family... Rachel gave her first talk in sacrament meeting Sunday and I spoke with her. My talk was dedicated to my dad. If you have time I attached a copy. (You've got to read those Bradshaw Books) Coming Home, Men and Women are from Earth Afterall, and BRADSHAW ON THE FAMILY... I'm really enjoying them. I love you all and hope all you men enjoyed your special day of honor!!
Here is my rough draft of my talk:
Happy Fathers’ Day to all the fathers and fathering figures. We know anyone can become a parent, but what is it that makes someone a father? We all know people in our lives that were father figures… I’ve heard people say “He was like a father to me”. There are men in our ward, Home Teachers, The Bishop, who is the father of our ward, and other caring individuals that help boys with their pinewood derby cars and other fatherly duties… What makes a man a father is perfoming his vital role for the child. What is a father’s vital role? To love, preside, provide for and protect his family.
When a father is absent either by choice or circumstance or they do not properly fulfill their vital role the family and ultimately society as a whole suffers as, the sins of the fathers are passed down from generation to generation and the whole world is accursed…
My father recently gave me this book, BRADSHAW ON THE FAMILY. He says he wishes he had this book when we were all little, but we have it now and hopefully we can all learn, heal and pass the knowledge on to our children… Here is a short parable from the book “Bradshaw on the Family” by John Bradshaw:
A Parable: THE TRAGEDY OF TRAGEDIES
Once upon a time a ROYAL person was born. His name was Hugh. Hugh was unlike anyone who had ever lived before of who would ever live again. Hugh was precious, unrepeatable incomparable, a trillion-dollar diamond in the rough. For the first 15 months of life, Hugh only knew himself from the reflections he saw in the eyes of his caretakers. Hugh was terribly unfortunate. His caretakers, although not blind, had glasses over their eyes that had an image already engraved on it. So that each caretaker only saw Hugh according to the image on his glasses. Thus, even though Hugh’s caretakers were physically present, not one of them ever actually saw him. By the time Hugh was grown, he was a mosaic of other people’s images of him, none of which was who he really was. No one had really ever seen him, so no one had ever mirrored back to him what he really looked d like. Consequently, Hugh thought he was the mosaic of images. He really did not know who he was. Sometimes in the dark of night when he was all alone Hugh knew something of profound importance was missing. He experienced this as a gnawing sense of emptiness- a deep void. He tried to fill the void with many things: power, worldly fame, money, possessions, chemical highs, food, intimacy, excitement, entertainment relationships, children, work…even exercise…But no matter what he did the emptiness did not go away and the longing remained. In the quiet of the night when all the distractions were gone he heard a still small voice say “Please don’t forget me… Don’t forget who you are”…but alas Hugh did forget and he went to his death never knowing his divine nature and infinite potential.
“Parenting forms children’s core belief about themselves. Nothing could be more important. Children are any culture’s greatest natural resource. The future of the world depends on our children’s conceptions of themselves. ALL THEIR CHOICES DEPEND ON THEIR VIEW OF THEMSLEVES!!
The most powerful lessons we can teach as fathers and caretakers is in the words of a simple primary song: “I am a child of God and he has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear…lead me guide me walk beside me help me find the way… Teach me all that I must do, to live with him someday.”
We aren’t always born into ideal circumstances. Not all of us are lucky enough to be born to “parents kind and dear”…and even the most fortunate have parents that are flawed and human. But it is said that those who succeed must have someone in their life who championed them… Someone who believed in them and nurtured and supported them. One person who truly loved them. Usually it is a parent, but often times it is a grandparent, or other relative, a teacher, or a friend. Luckily for us as Latter Day Saints we all know that we have at least one champion in our life.
He is a perfect Father. He is patient and kind and loving. He doesn’t love his children because they deserve it, or they earned it, or because they are successful or obedient. He loves them because they are His. When they reject Him and disobey Him and return home for help or to admit a mistake he receives them and heals them with open arms and unconditional love….He is our Heavenly Father… Our goal as parents and as brothers and sisters is to be more like Him in all our relationships.
My cousin Tricia is an advocate in adolescent family counseling… Our children bring us our greatest joys and worry. Through the toddler and now teen stages it is helpful to bounce ideas off of a neutral party. Consequently, we’ve shared many stimulating discussions on families and parenting styles and techniques. During one such discussion she shared with me that in her profession she found abandonment to be the biggest fear people have… for children and for adults. If she asked someone what is the WORST THING that could happen?? They usually would share something about if a child, or someone they love died, or a parent or spouse left them. At this response she would empathetically validate that each scenario would be a terrible, horrible tragedy to bear… but… then she’d add “You know, as awful as that would be, that is not the WORST thing that can happen. The WORST thing that could happen is if at the next general conference the prophet stood up and said ‘ I have some very bad news… I spoke with God this morning and he told me that soon the earth will tilt off of it’s axis and because He is tired of our stiff necks and disobedience he has decided to abandon the plan of salvation in our behalf. The atonement will no longer take effect and there will be no resurrection.’ We are all on our own.”
Now that puts things into perspective for me… That IS the worst thing that could ever happen. Fortunately we know He would NEVER abandon us. The Doctrine and Covenants says “What I the Lord have spoken I have spoken and I excuse not myself. Though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word will not pass away…whether it be by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, (the prophets) it is the same”…So we know He will never go back on His word or He would cease to be God…so every other tragic scenario we can experience or invent, aside from God abandoning us…we can, with God’s help, endure.
Now in honor of Fathers Day I’d like to share a little about my own father. My father is a champion. Not because he was a perfect father, but because he loved me and I know he did the best job he could to love, preside, provide for and protect us. HE really enjoyed being a father and when he spent time with me I never felt like I was a bother, or he was just doing a duty. He seemed to love every drawing we made or any recipe we baked. When my sisters and I talk (and there are six girls in the family not including my two brothers) we’ve all admitted that we secretly felt like we were dad’s favorite. I used to look forward to our “daddy daughter dates” which were just simple times going to fill up the gas tank and getting to choose ANY treat I wanted from the 7/11. I chose a wax candy filled with sugary goo. I had so much fun that the next time he asked where I wanted to go I shouted “To the Gas Station!” I loved the times he’d take us aside for our “Personal Priesthood Interview” Usually it was a FAST SUNDAY and I was always excited for my turn for one on one time with dad. He’d ask who my friends were at school and on a scale of one to ten how happy I was. He’d ask how I was getting along with my brothers and sisters and if there was anything that I wanted to talk about or repent of. I remember one such opportunity where I was able to admit that when I was five years old I stole a pack of gum from the grocery store. We talked about what we could do to repent and make up for our deed. (He took me back to the store later and I admitted to the manager what I had done, and then I paid for the gum, which by then had tripled in price!) Then after a nice discussion we’d take turns praying about the goals we set and the problems we discussed and it would usually end with a Father’s Blessing. I LOVED THOSE TALKS… we recently found a binder with the notes he took from our interviews… its priceless! Dad was an artist. I love showing my friends the sculptures he made at the Oakland Temple, and I loved painting Christmas windows with him during the holidays. HE taught seminary and he also taught at my high school. He made sure we had morning and night family prayers and scriptures study…(Even before early morning seminary) He is a natural missionary and could not help but share the gospel with anyone and everyone he happens to meet. I remember when he took the five oldest girls on a ten day hike on the Upper Truckee River. There weren’t many other people around, but one day we ran into a nice couple hiking. They stopped and chatted a while and I remember him reveling in the beautiful mountain vista and breathtaking sunset… “Isn’t God good to us?” he proclaimed, “He could have given us a world that was just black and white but for our pleasure and enjoyment he created these beautiful colors and magnificent miracles of nature just to bring us joy.” I remember thinking wow, dad can bring God into any conversation… I admire that… But what I most admire about my dad is that he chose the gospel in his life when nobody supported him. It further strained the relationship with his father whose only positive time with his sons was Sunday Fishing Trips. His testimony was so solid, you would think he came from stalwart pioneer stalk, when in reality he broke the chain of generations of addiction and abuse, by choosing to join the church and go on a mission even though he was older, and then choosing a righteous woman to marry in the temple so that his family would have a chance at not being as broken and having as much painful as he suffered in his childhood. My dad used to apologize when he’d lose his temper, and sometimes he’d share experiences of his childhood. He’d admit he wasn’t perfect, but he said his hope is that “ Each generation will improve upon the next” He was better than his father and he hoped we’d grow to be better than him… That’s a tall order…
Jakob too, the father of my children, is another wonderful example to me of someone who healed a broken chain the priesthood that had been lost in his family. When he joined the church he healed generations of families that would have grown up without the knowledge of our Savior and His plan of happiness. I love him for his faithfulness and his love of the gospel. My love for him grows each time I see him put his hands on our children’s heads for a father’s blessing. Even last night when we got home late from a wedding, our daughter Rachel was burning with fever. He laid his hands on her head and blessed her while she slept. She woke up feeling great and was able to be here today to give her first youth talk in sacrament meeting. I know our children don’t quite grasp how fortunate they are to be born under the covenant… I know I didn’t appreciate it like I should have… But these fathers are true heroes to have found and embraced the gospel even when it wasn’t spoon fed to them in their youth. They didn’t let opposition be an excuse to wallow in bitterness, and the darkness of transgression.
Being a good father is paramount, having had one yourself is just luck of the draw…
Whether you had a champion father or a father figure to champion you in your infant years… or whether you had no champion at all, we can all walk tall and feel blessed to be alive today because of the healing balm of forgiveness and the sacred atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. With Christ and our Heavenly Father Championing us we cannot fail. If we can only remember who we are… we will live worthy of returning home…. “All our choices depend on our view of ourselves”. If we believe the atonement is real, and if we know God is our Father… we will want to honor him and his name..and our choices will reflect our faith and hope.
I hope we can all show unconditional love and champion our children and each other and to honor the Fathers in our lives. Especially on this Sabbath Day remember our Heavenly Father who makes everything possible and who will never stop loving us no matter what we do…
I know God lives and that he is our Heavenly Father… I feel blessed to have been born to a loving father here on earth who taught me in my youth my divine nature and where I came from. I know we are God’s children and with Him nothing is impossible. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.