I can still hear my dad’s parting advice when he dropped me off at college:
“Everybody’s not going to like you and you’re not going to like everybody.”
That was his way–direct, matter of fact, minimal. I was a middle child, the family peacekeeper, a slave to Nice with a need to be liked. He knew how easily my heart bruised, that another’s indifference could crush my spirit; he gave me those words as a shield, a skin thickener, a deflector for the daggers sure to come.
It may not have jived with my Christian sensibilities, but those words were a balm to future wounds. It is the way things were. Are. An accurate depiction of my reality….
Honestly, I struggled then as I do now with the “like” vs “love” comparison. So much of what I know about love comes from 1 Corinthians 13; it’s:
- not jealous
- not self-seeking
- not a record keeper
Love celebrates truth, it bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things.
No scripture comes to mind about liking people, liking God.
Maybe it’s too simplistic, but my father’s words forced me to consider the distinction between liking and loving others; what it means practically speaking–
Loving others is action oriented towards honoring or serving them without expectation of reciprocation; liking others focuses on me—my feelings and expectations and an odd sense of entitlement for something.
I’ve thought about Daddy’s counsel for 30 years; thirty years.
Out of all the advice, instruction and encouragement my father gave me during my childhood and youth, that is what I remember? Of course I recall plenty of other things, but that one sentence has lingered longer than I’m sure he ever thought it would. Is it a hard reality my heart has needed to hear over and over? Is it a troublesome truth I just have to live with? Is it plain wrong?
I feel like there’s an answer I’m supposed to say, but it’s in opposition to the way life really is….
I wish that wasn’t the case.
Remembering my own past compels me to consider the future of my children.
I have a daughter in college and a son who just graduated high school; my baby is 16.
What counsel of mine will they recall 30 years from now? I’m not talking about easy Sunday school answers, but important, real, life-affecting counsel that will serve them for all of their years….
And I’ll ask you the same question I’m asking myself, hoping that thinking about it now and being intentional will make a future difference:
If I could choose one piece of advice for my children to remember the rest of their lives, what would it be?
If you could choose one piece of advice for your children to remember the rest of their lives, what would it be?
You won’t be able to control what they remember; you can’t predict fully what will stick. But if you could what would it be?
And if something immediately comes to mind one of your parents shared with you, I’d love for you to share your memory.