A Word About My Dad

Jeff Family

It’s Father’s Day, and I won’t get to see my dad today, but I woke up grateful for him today and wanted to share a few words to honor him. He’s a good man, that Doug Lyle, and he continues to have an impact on me, even in my late forties. Dad will tell you that he is flawed, and did not do everything as a younger dad that he now has the wisdom to do if he could turn back the clock and get a mulligan. Yet, through any mistakes and a whole slew of good things that he did get right, here I am today (as I’m sure my three sisters are) finding myself very blessed to be his son.

When my mother did not feel like she could stay with us, my dad did not feel that he could leave us. As a banking executive in the late seventies and early eighties, dad also wore the title of “Single Dad” for a few years until he met the love of his life, Claudia, who became an amazing wife to him and a rescuing mother to me. Together, with four kids in a newly-blended family, they did their best to point our rocky ship toward hopeful harbors. Truth be known, we four kids did not make things easy on our parents. Somehow, through some delightfully high highs, and through some intense rock-bottom lows, dad kept his hand on the helm and his eye on the horizon. Understanding now those many things that were in a haze back then, I see that dad modeled so much that seeped into me, and that I could not be who I am today apart from who he is and what he taught me.

He taught me humor without a textbook on how to make people laugh. I still love to hear him laugh, it’s the most frequent trait that arises in my mind with me when I think of him. Dad also taught me intensity and focus, and a robust work ethic. From my father, I learned what it meant to work hard at one or two things, while letting the rest of the population take care of everything else. The reason why I never quit is because my father modeled that for me during some excruciatingly difficult challenges in his own life. Dad showed me how to love the right lady when I found her (and I did find her!). I would have to say, perhaps more than anything, dad handed me the baton of cultivating the ability to truly think. It sounds simple, but as I approach age fifty in a couple of years, I must say that I am regularly amazed at how frequently I am impacted by the reality that we are a non-thinking generation.  We talk a lot. We passionately emote. But very few people have mastered the art of objectively thinking through a matter from beginning to end.  My father taught me how to do this. Dad made me a thinker.

Lastly, and most importantly, my dad is a Kingdom man. I entered the Kingdom twenty-three years ago and dad was there waiting for me. He put up with me during my hyper-religious fundamentalist season, which provoked the nonconformist in him. He primarily kept quiet when I did my denominational barking, and he just let me learn on my own that the Kingdom was not an ever-elongating list of rules. When the iceberg of Kingdom reality sank the Titanic of my legalistic blindness, I started welcoming my father’s voice into my life again. I’m so glad I did. He sees things in the Kingdom and pours so much into helping others see those same things.

Dad likes motorcycles, the Atlanta Braves, pizza, and pouring wisdom into other Kingdom men. He loves his country, served during the Vietnam War to protect it, and is grieved about the current state of affairs in the nation that he has called home for seventy-two years. He adores his wife, and Amy and I really love watching them interact with each other during their retirement years.  They are having fun side-by-side, and it makes Amy and me draw closer as our years together accumulate. You have to dig deep, but dad really feels. Yes, he is a thinking man who is also a feeling man – his head has a heart.  He loves his children and grandchildren, and my guess is that he has shed more tears for us over the years than we know. Ultimately, when I think of my father on this Father’s Day, I can look up to Heaven and say to THE Father, “You gave me a good man for a father, Father. I don’t take it for granted. Thank You for blessing me in this way.”

I love you, Dad.  Happy Father’s Day.