Wisdom to Impart Confidence in God
By Kristen Shaw Gonet
Two and a half years ago my husband and I and our two children left Massachusetts where I lived five minutes away from my parents and moved to an affluent town in central Connecticut. It’s the kind of town in which, although I’m 36, I can still find myself trying to keep up with the “popular crowd.” My son just finished first grade and my daughter kindergarten and yet I have seen them already compete to be in the highest reading group in their class and struggle when they are not the best on their team at a sport or not wearing the right clothes. It’s overwhelming to try to “keep up” appearances in my community, but I can even feel that same pressure sometimes as a Christian. Am I serving enough; giving enough; have I done all my Christian duties? Being a wife, mom, Christian, and friend can start to feel like a never-ending checklist.
Growing up, my dad never let life become a list of duties. His Christianity was never a checklist; it was and still is his identity. Although I wanted so badly just to fit in with the rest of the crowd when I was in high school, he constantly reminded me by the way he lived his life that the only ones with whom I needed to fit in were he and God. My dad’s example was so powerful that I never actually had to wrestle with this worldly desire. He made sure I knew I fit perfectly next to him. When I was next to him I was never afraid. He was a protector. Next to him I didn’t have to look a certain way because I never doubted that to him I was beautiful. To him I was strong, funny, a fighter, and smart. Now that I’m raising my own daughter I understand in a way I never could before what a profound gift he gave me.
He has a sixth sense as a dad. He always knew (and still knows now) when my sister and I caught a case of “daddy-itis”. He could sense we were “off” somehow and that we needed time with him. For the two of us, that usually meant a trip to Dunkin Donuts and then a long, often tear-filled conversation in the driveway, talking about everything we were feeling at the time. He would listen to me talk about my current crush unrequited. He would then express to me his own disappointments. He never settled for an “I’m fine” response from me when he’d ask me how I was doing. He would ask more questions or just sit and wait while we drank our hot chocolate until I was ready to talk. He would let me go on for hours about the trials of being a girl in middle school with bad acne. Nothing was off limits and I was never too embarrassed to tell him all the details. It may have been the six sisters he grew up with that gave him such a sensitive heart, but he somehow would find a way to relate to me. I always felt listened to and understood. He would ultimately bring all of it back to Jesus and the Bible. He made Jesus and the Bible so real in those moments. I cling to those talks still today.
In the busyness of life, I can often want to settle for the “I’m fine” responses from my kids or from my neighbors but I think I inherited my dad’s emotional intelligence and I can’t help but dig deeper. I want to give my kids what my dad gave me. My daughter and I recently read Psalm 139. I want her to have the same confidence in who she is that my dad gave me and I want her to know the true source from which it came. I watched her eyes fill with confidence as she thought about the fact that God made her just as he wanted! When I look at those around me I want to see beyond the “I’m all set” exterior and remember that people just need to be asked the right questions or that sometimes they just need someone to sit and drink hot chocolate with them. This world is full of broken people who need Jesus and the Bible to be made real in their lives. My Dad is my hero and most trusted adviser. Although his voice is softer and he has less strength than he used to, his words remain just as loud in my heart and his strength is just as profound.
I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.
Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.
I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.