It’s a Tuesday evening in March. I’m sitting in a dark hospital room watching one of the strongest men I know struggle. He was diagnosed with mouth cancer just a few months ago and the transition from how he was to how he is now is staggering. This once strong, supportive man who hasn’t ever complained about anything is leaning on me for help.
He’s the kind of guy that never needed anything from you except the occasional favor. Lift this and move that kind of thing. He controlled the room and every moment with grace and wisdom, in a good way. Always a delight to be around and a joy to carry a conversation with. He’s loved me with a firm confidence and advised me with wisdom beyond my years. But tonight, he needs me. The family needs me to do my part and help him in his greatest need.
When I was asked I didn’t hesitate. “Of course I can.” I would do anything for him, for them, for my family. He, they have done so much for me that I’m honored that they would even ask. I consider him my 2nd earthly father and count it a joy to be here although would find it odd.
As I sit here and just watch him rest I begin to think about the relationship of father and son, both heavenly and earthly. I think of how my father raised me to be strong, confident and honest man. I also think of the many times that I made him sad and upset by some of the foolish things I had done. I can honestly say that I learned more from my weaknesses than I did from strengths. It’s in weakness that your true character shines through. When you are at your lowest point in life how you act says a lot about you and who you truly are. My actions in my lowest times would trouble a lot of people, but through that I have been able to better shape who I am today. My character developed more from weakness than through the triumph. I see a lot of the same here in this hospital room. Other than the pain, this strong man hasn’t wavered in his character. He has been as joyful as he can be and as polite as he’s always been. Given the pain he’s experiencing anyone could understand any Freudian slip, but he hasn’t uttered the first word. Always yes sir, yes ma’am, thank you and please. Not once has he changed. That is true character. True genuine-ness. True strength.
In a world clamoring for leadership and genuine people, you don’t need to look to Hollywood, professional athletes, musicians or Capital Hill. Look no further than those who struggle with life and it’s many situations. Look to those who have triumphed through cancer and illness. Look to those who have lost someone and have made it through to the other side. Look to real people and real life situations and that’s where you’ll find the strongest role models that this world needs.