A blessed child is raised up with a solid foundation of teaching that will undergird and carry that child down through the journey of life.
Over the passing years, I have seen far too often others did not have the simple but firm raising I had. Life is much more of a challenge for those than of us who had a steady hand on our shoulder and firm, but not cruel, discipline.
Endless is the list of what my parents instilled in me: a serious work ethic, faith in Almighty God and the rescuing thunder of an army that prayer could summon, compassion and always the reminder to see after those who suffered or had less than us.
“You share what you got, no matter how little it is,” Daddy said repeatedly.
Tink and I were having lunch at a little soda shop when a woman I’ve known always, came over to say “hello” and meet Tink.
“Her daddy, Ralph, was one of the finest men I’ve ever known,” she said to Tink. “One time I was in the hospital after a miscarriage. I kept losing blood so I was there for 33 days. Ralph came to see me every morning before he went to work. Every day before he left, he would pray and take my hand. He would press a few dollars in my hand, without a word, and then he was gone.”
I am grateful that my parents taught me not to be “a’feared’, a mountain word that I still love and use. They did not show fear or worry. They never locked a door on our house and though Daddy had a rack of shotguns and deer rifles in their bedroom, he would have had to load them if he heard someone coming in.
Never once did either tell me, when I was a child or a teenager, they were afraid for me to do something. When I left the house, Mama never said, “Be careful.” She always said, “Be sweet.” Being kind and nice was more important to my parents than being safe.
Now, I look back at all the bold chances I took and how Mama or Daddy never blinked an eye.
“I’m going to Washington, DC to work,” I announced at 23.
They nodded. “Don’t get up there and start actin’ like some of them fools up there,” Daddy said, an eyebrow raised to prove his seriousness.
A year later, “I’m moving to Indianapolis to work for a sports marketing firm,” I announced.
As I recall, neither even moved an eye from the television. “If that’s what you want to do,” Mama said, her hands folded across her aproned lap. “It’s cold up there.”
Daddy called one afternoon when I was sitting in the floor of my Indy apartment, sobbing bitterly. It was Black Monday. The market had crashed so, in the background, the story played out. My tears had nothing to do with the financial freefall. I had not a dollar in the market. I had a boss who was tough and I was so homesick, I could barely function.
Daddy listened while I cried and explained. “The good Lord told me you were sufferin’ and I should call.” He paused. “Home is always waitin’ for you.”
A friend stays nervous, fretful, unsure about her precious, practically perfect daughter. She is fearful of everything. If it comes up a cloud, she says, “Don’t go outside. You might get hit by lightning.”
The beautiful young girl is cheerful and compliant. Lately, though, I wonder how her mama’s fear will impact her daughter’s future. Will she be bold enough to step into an unknown world and give it a try? Or will she always stay in safe, comfortable places?
To Mama and Daddy: Thank you for much but, today, I particularly thank you for the kind of solid faith that enabled me to be courageous.
•Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of Let Me Tell You Something. Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.