By Ty Phillips
I wrote a piece titled Five Things I Want My Daughter’s to Know a few months ago.
Prior to and after that, I have seen this writing by lists trend skyrocket. It’s catchy, easy to read, sells, and gets us lots of likes on facebook. The question is, are we living it out or just writing it? I want my kids to know I love them. That’s great; are you telling them that?
What do our lists say about us?
First and foremost, we are the mirror that our children see themselves in. I want you to respect yourself. Are we respecting them? Are we respecting our partners in front of our children? Are we setting the example of being encouraging, uplifting, supportive and showing them what unconditional love really is?
I often write about what I struggle with the most. I have had a lifetime of dealing with anxiety and personal insecurities. I share this with my readers, and yes—even wrote about my hope for my kids to be outgoing, courageous, and engaged; the things that I have struggled with all of my life.
More than my words though, what do my actions tell them?
Try as I might, I fear that I am probably sending a mixed message. I deal with a chronic illness, side effects to medication and an ongoing anxiety problem, that although largely reigned in, still causes me to withdraw. Yes, my words say one thing, but sadly, my actions tend to say another.
As a priest, I am often told that I shouldn’t share my personal struggles. People come to me for hope and encouragement, “what does it say to them if they see you faltering?”I am often asked. Truthfully, I hope that my struggle shows them they are not alone, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that honestly, accepting a path doesn’t mean you have an easy way out.
Maybe those that know me will see me struggling or have heard about my struggles over the years and are able to take heart that I march on—not because I am special, but because I must. Maybe my kids will see me making attempts to always be a better father and apologize for past transgressions. Apologizing doesn’t make it better, but the struggle to improve does.
I don’t have a list of what I want you to know. If anything, my life is a book; one you can learn from. I will not judge you because I have faltered and fallen so many times. What I will do, is be here to offer advice when you need it, and pick you up when you have fallen. I will be here to offer you the truth of what I have done and what I haven’t done. Not so that I can lord it over you but so you know I am not perfect either.
When you choose to read my writing, if you do, I hope you see that it mirrors our conversations. I hope you feel that I was honest and upfront with you (and the world). We need more honesty, more vulnerability. My list is too long to break down for you. My list is too complicated to squeeze into a neat and tidy package. My list will be seen when you come to me because you know you can, when I support you even if I don’t agree.
My list will be seen in how good of a mirror I was for you and I will see that in how you treat each other.
I hope I was a clear reflection. I will continue to try and be that for you. I hope that my reflection is loving and supportive in how you see me treating others. Maybe one day you will write a list; what I learned from my dad.
I hope that I make that list a good one for you.
Why do we fall sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up. ~ Alfred Pennyworth
Editor: Dana Gornall