Father’s Day doesn’t get the attention that Mother’s Day does. I have yet to see sappy Father’s Day commercials advertising everything from soap to cars, or tearful posts about how much fathers give to their children. But I’d like to take a moment to talk about my dad, because it is Father’s Day this Sunday.
This past year, I was let go from a job for the first time. I now feel that it was probably the best thing for both me and the company—I didn’t like the job too much—but at the time, all I could feel was panic. My wife was in school, we lived in an expensive area, and the loss of a paycheck felt like the loss of my right arm. I immediately went into crisis mode.
Then I remembered my father. A few years ago, he lost his job as a computer programmer. Rather than ask my mother to stop working on her own business in order to bring in more money or stop paying for my college tuition, he took on a job as a delivery driver. Surrounded by college students half his age, he worked steadily until he found another programming job, and then continued to work both jobs.
At the time, I felt embarassed for him. He didn’t deserve to be working long hours at a sandwich shop, when he had the skill and knowledge to be doing something more rewarding. But he didn’t see it that way. I worked up the courage to ask him how he felt about it, knowing well that I depended on his willingness to work for those paychecks.
He shrugged. “You do what you have to,” he said. “Things will turn out.”
It was that confidence that hard work finds a way, that knocked me out of panic mode this year. He didn’t have faith that God, or luck, or the market, would set things right or make things easier. He simply had confidence in his own skills and his own hard work. He in himself had everything he needed.
I’ve never had particularly high self-esteem. Confidence that everything will work out is certainly not one of my strongest traits. But I thought of my father, his quiet confidence, and I took a deep breath. He showed me the path to deal with this temporary crisis with pragmatism rather than panic.
I am now gainfully employed again, and none of the worst-case scenarios I’ve envisioned have come to pass. Because of my father’s example, I was able to pass through that difficult time with a modicum of calm and look at it as an opportunity for growth. He’s taught me many things throughout my life, but this he never taught me deliberately. He just did the work, put in the time, and let me draw my own conclusions when I was ready.