I love my friend Jean. I have no doubt you’d love her if you met her. She’s 98 years old and she’s my mom’s BFF. One thing I appreciate about Jean is that she’s a survivor. She’s lived through the Depression and World Wars, as well as the tragic death of a daughter and the loss of her husband, among other things. Honestly, she’s endured more hardship in one lifetime than some of us will ever experience.
Despite her many heartaches, Jean has an unwavering faith in Jesus and is a model of resiliency and optimism. Without hesitation, I can say that she is truly one of the most extraordinary women I’ve ever encountered. Jean has been an example to me of what I want to be like at her age and I value any time I can spend with her because I always leave better than I came.
Jean could be described as a “hope-filled spiritual energizer bunny” who loves to listen to people and pray for them. And though she has no problem speaking her mind, she has a unique gift of sprinkling every conversation with incredible pearls of wisdom.
I know I’m not the only one who enjoys time with Jean. Though frail and weak, she doesn’t complain about her aches and pains, and she has a line-up of people—both men and women—who have to get on her weekly schedule just to have time with her because her book gets filled fast! Speaking of aging, last year I attended a conference where I heard John Mark Comer share these words that have stayed with me ever since: Most old people are either one or the other…not much in between. Either other-centered—-loving, giving, settled, peaceful, and grateful. Or they are self-centered—bitter, cynical, and negative.
Jean’s life clearly fits the other-centered description. I asked Jean to share with me five things she wishes her dad had given her. And because I treasure her input and insight, I want to share with you the things she told me.
“I was just 16 when my Daddy committed suicide, and until now I’ve not had the opportunity before to express my heart. God’s timing is always perfect! Thank you for requesting the five places in my relationship with my Daddy that I would have liked changed…
- Words of affirmation
- Time alone with him to get to know him and his childhood
- Physical touch
- Being accepted for myself; not for what I did or failed to do
- Hear him say out loud—“I love you”
She explained to me that she was grateful for any ministry to fathers. And how, in obedience to God helping her, after all these years, my asking her those five things, was helping her finally bring about healing and closure to the deep and resentful areas his death caused. “It’s been many years ago now that with Christ’s leading and help, I forgave him.”
You are loved and greatly admired, Jean. Dad, I don’t know how to say it any clearer than Jean just did. If you want to know what your daughter needs from you, take Jean’s words to heart because your daughter longs for these same things.
Today I encourage you to take one or two things Jean wishes she’d had from her Daddy, things she never got, and commit to investing in your daughter in those specific ways.
Do it in honor of Jean.
Portions of this post originally appeared over at Dr. Michelle Watson-Canfield’s Blog.