At least a thousand times in years 1-21, I heard my Dad say If you hang around with dogs, you’ll start barking like a dog. Even now at 46 years of age it sort of makes me want to roll my eyes.
I hadn’t thought about that line in years until I recently heard this gem:
You catch what you’re close to.
It’s true for children and it’s true for adults. It’s true in our personal lives and in our professional lives. It’s true with the virus the world is watching right now. It’s true spiritually, regardless of what faith you practice. It’s true with belief systems and morals – the tendency to follow the belief systems of our families in our youth. You catch what you’re close to.
Dozens of studies tell us that if we surround ourselves with people who focus on positivity, we’re more likely to find ourselves focused on the positive. If we surround ourselves with people who are committed to living with certain principles we are more likely to maintain commitment to principles. If our close friends commit crimes we are more likely to commit a crime.
So it turns out, the old southern “you can’t waller with pigs and not get dirty” and “you can’t sleep with the dogs and not get fleas” are based on some science and more than just naggy parentisms. (The latter sleeping with dogs and fleas example makes me laugh more than it should for a variety of reasons.)
Father’s Day has me thinking about the things that make my Dad my Dad, and the most important things I have learned from him. In contrast to evidence that you’re likely to hold the same belief systems as your parents, I do not think John Wayne is one of the greatest actors of all time.
However, even though we tend to vote differently, on most of the really big things we agree. And it’s his example and his words that have been a lighthouse on every day with rough seas.
One of my earliest memories of my Dad is of us kneeling in prayer. It’s so funny now to think about him in that environment, surrounded by Barbies and next to a frilly Holly Hobby canopy bed. He was showing me what is most important while also showing me that location isn’t important – we can spend time together and with God in the tiniest or the messiest of places. On a beach, in a car, in a fast food restaurant, in a parking lot, in a small apartment, in a church, on the steps at school…anywhere and everywhere my Dad has always made the most of his time with me.
More than three decades later, when Audrey was about 3 months old, we received some concerning news about the cancer she was battling. One of my favorite moments with my Dad, which is also one of the biggest moments of learning from him, happened as I rocked her to sleep in her nursery. He stood next to me, again in a place surrounded by pink little girl things, with his hand on my shoulder, praying for me as I prayed for her. I was praying test results would show Audrey was cancer-free, while he was praying that I would have joy and peace.
The job title parent doesn’t end when our children reach adulthood. That day I learned from my Dad what I had read about dozens of times but never really grasped – that peace is what guards our hearts and minds when we are struggling, that peace is how we are not alone, that peace is the path to authority and control, and that peace is the path to victory.
Peace is what my Dad has passed to me over and over and over again. In his actions. In his words. In his prayers.
You catch what you’re close to. Thanks, Dad, for Peace and peace. In my life, and in the lives of your granddaughters.