John Taylor wants his children to be known for their greatness – not fame or wealth or prestige – but for their greatness of character. For that to happen, he knows he has to do better himself.
All fathers have their own fears for their children when they are born. We worry through the pregnancy, we worry through the birthing process, and we worry the day we bring them home. There are also deeper fears that dwell within our very being. You know what I’m talking about. Mine were the fear they wouldn’t love me, the fear they were “breakable” and the most defining fear for me : The fear they would end up just like me. Not physically of course. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to be this damn good looking? But being like me in the sense of who they would become later on in life.
There is a quick reasoning behind said greatest fear. I am 29 years old, a college dropout, an on and off addict, and I have a criminal record. I have done nothing but work in restaurants, car washes, and production plants since I last attended college. To be completely honest, I still have no clue exactly what I would want to do if I went back to school. I don’t want to be doing something I don’t like, but I don’t know what I would be best at doing.
The last year has seen me going from a full-time employee, to a weekend warrior, to a full-time stay-at-home-dad. I’ve almost destroyed my marriage, and I have rebuilt it. We’ve been up in money, and down in debt. It’s always a war between bills and paychecks, doctors and groceries. Needless to say, the paychecks are not winning.
It’s not the best way to be living. Don’t get me wrong, though. I know I am a lot better off than a lot of people. I have also been a lot lower in my own life to be able to still appreciate things like a roof, a shower, and of course having my family near me. I struggle with giving true recognition to the little things that make me wealthy, and it is something I strive to do more and more.
Looking at my life, it’s not exactly the great I would have expected. And I’m far from being a great person.
I know when I die, most people won’t remember my name, or where I have worked, or even what I was most known for. I do hope people will remember what kind of spirit I had (if they think it’s a kind one) and what I did in my life for other people. I don’t care if nobody tweets about me, if nobody Facebook messages their friends to tell them of my passing. I don’t really care if my passing is barely noticed. The only thing I would want to know for sure is that my children always knew that daddy loved them, and that I lived the right example for them.
I want so much more for my children. I do not want them to grow up and have to struggle. I do not want them to have to know the frustration, the stress, and the strain on life that exists in the world. I want them to go on to much better things than I have in my life. I want to see their wildest dreams and biggest expectations open up and become realities. I want to see their “I want to” turn into “I did”. For all of the things I have said, or might say, they can’t do, I want them to be able to turn around and say “I told you so”
I don’t wish for them to be famous movies stars, athletes, or musicians. I don’t wish for them to have a large bank account that affords them the riches they will never need. I do not want them to have the cameras and spotlights on them at all times, or win prestigious awards, or be someone their grandkids study about in school. But I do wish for their greatness.
When my children have grown old and passed, I want people to remember them for their greatness of character. I want them to have been people of integrity, people of immeasurable kindness, people of unshakable conviction. I want people to stand around and remember them as people who always put family first and did what they had to for their family. I want them to be known the world around for their acts of love and their words of truth. I want them to shine a light on the world that will never fade, never grow dim, and never be unseen. I want them to shower the world with a love that can be felt by all and a greatness that can really be admired.
I sometimes feel I have failed my children in that I haven’t lived my life like this, and thus I have a fear they will end up like me. I feel that my inabilities and instabilities will not show them a life of “greatness” like I speak of. I pray for the strength to change myself to live with this greatness. So far, I have not done this. I have not shown my kids how true greatness is defined.
I suspect that maybe I need to figure out how to be great myself before I can live the example. Makes sense right? That in order to define my hopes for their greatness, I need to be able to define it for myself. The lingering dilemma I have though is this: How does one who is far from great, define greatness?
I guess that’s just something I will find out after I am dead and gone. I may not see it in myself. But maybe at my funeral, one of my children will speak of a father who taught them the important things. That taught them how to shine that light upon the world. In this way, I will know I am great. Down the road, my hope is that the same things will be said about them Then, we will all become, someone great.