18 Jun Promise Keepers
In the days surrounding Father’s Day, people reflect on the qualities of their fathers that contribute so much to their lives. As I think back on my own father who passed away ten years ago, I think of his integrity. He was not a perfect man, but he was a man who didn’t lie. He didn’t cheat. He told the truth. He kept his promises. He was a man who could be trusted in any given situation to do the right thing.
Dad’s character and integrity served him well in his career. In the Korean War, Dad quickly rose to the rank of Master Sergeant. In his career in the US Forest Service, Dad ended up supervising hundreds of employees and acres of national forest as Forest Supervisor, even though he preferred to work in the field. During earlier years, Dad was promoted to “fire boss,” something akin to a military general, deploying firefighters, machinery, and air support in fighting a major forest fire. I remember how sharp he looked in his Forest Service uniform and how bad he smelled when he came home from a fire.
Dad’s greatest honors were in the home. Nothing in the world brought Dad greater joy than to spend time with his family and to see his children and grandchildren make good decisions. Dad, although not an overtly religious man, was a “promise keeper.” Married fifty years to my mother, he honored his marital covenants and loved, cherished and cared for my mother his entire life. This enabled my mother to work magic in our home.
As the third child in a family of four children, I loved to spend time with Dad. As a very young child, I used to play hide and seek with Dad when he came home for lunch. He would pretend not to see me then surprise me with a big hug and a slight whisker burn when he found me. I remember his hand on my back under my pajamas as I knelt at my bed for prayer.
As an adolescent, I loved to talk to Dad and share with him what I had learned. His intelligent blue eyes flashed right through me. No one could take his place in my life. I have this recurring memory of fishing with Dad in a quiet cove at Lake Powell. A slight breeze blows through his hair, stubble and old green shirt he always wore. I look at him and think to myself how much I love this man and hope that I can be half the man that he is one day.
Dad has now been gone for many years, and I now have fifteen wonderful children of my own and nine grandchildren that fill my life with joy and promise. But hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of Dad and wonder if he is proud of me. I cough and I hear his cough. My hands look like his hands. I look in the mirror and sometimes I see him. Such is the lifetime positive effect of a father on his boy. Fortunately, I had a really good one who didn’t cheat and kept his promises.
Dad loved me, but he cared just as much for my siblings. I saw that look in his eye when my sister entered the room. She was his princess, and it made me feel good and secure to see how he loved her. In a different way, my sister Ann longed for Dad’s masculine attention and affirmation as much as I did. It is true, little daughters need a father, protector, and role model as much as little sons.
One of the greatest tragedies facing modern society is that too many boys and girls grow up without a father in their lives. For the most part, this situation is avoidable. There is no good excuse for a society that tolerates half of its children being born to unwed mothers or half of its marriages ending in divorce. Every child deserves the opportunity to live in the love and protection of a father and a mother, if not their natural father and mother then adopted ones.
Our schools, churches, media, and government must do a better job of encouraging capable young men and women to live chaste lives, marry well, and devote their lives to their children. A person’s happiness and a nation’s future and prosperity depend on these common tasks and timeless virtues.
There is a lot of talk nowadays that a working single mom or two gay women or men raising children are equal to, and do just as good a job on average as, a stable married couple. It is a lie; a formula for social chaos and disaster. Just look at the data on educational outcomes, personal happiness, mental and physical health, abuse, income levels, and crime rates for children raised in such an environment.
The truth is children need the consistent presence and dedication of both a mother and a father in their lives. It is time for the world to wake up and realize the immense joy, freedom, and prosperity possible when people keep their promises, never cheat, and do their duty to God, family, and country…like my Dad.
Tom Christensen, former CEO of United Families, is a successful father, attorney, and politician. He has written extensively on the natural family and has addressed UN delegations in behalf of UFI in Istanbul, New York, Nairobi, the Hague, Lisbon and Geneva.