Quote of the Day: “I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” ― Umberto Eco
One of the most important things I ever learned wasn't from my father, but from my wife's father. I was in my twenties, a hippie in 1967 in West Texas where I was one of only two or three hippies around. I had long hair, wore beads, sandals, and had just married a beautiful girl who was the daughter of a Texas redneck truck driver. He had not been happy about the marriage and occasionally would make remarks about how the world would be better off if all student protesters (like me) would be machine gunned. I just stayed away from him as best I could. Then, one night when my wife as pregnant with our first son, I got arrested--for shoplifting. Handcuffed, back of the patrol car, in a six-foot cell with five other men (who were not hippies and didn't like them)--I used my one phone call to call my wife since I had no family or friends who could help me. I waited for six hours with my fists clenched and my back to the cell wall. Finally, the cell door opened and I was free. As it clanged shut behind me, I asked the police officer who was escorting me if my wife was waiting for me. "No," he said, "it's your father-in-law who bailed you out and who is waiting for you outside." At that point, I wanted to go back to my cell. I could just see him standing out in the dark near his pick-up truck with a baseball bat in his hand waiting to beat me near to death. With my head down and my feet shuffling as slow as I could make them, I walked through the open door to where he was waiting. He came up to me and I cringed waiting for the blows to start falling, but they didn't. Instead, he put his arm around me and said, "Son, the next time you get into trouble, call me first." By this time, I was sobbing with relief, grief, remorse, and shame. He just softly said, "I will always be there for you. You are part of my family now."
Those brief few moments outside that jail 45 years ago changed me and made me a better man. That was my first and last visit to a jail. It was also the last time I judged someone by what he did for a living or what he said--but began to respect people for what they did for others. I do believe that's how Jesus will be judging us, by how we love each other and help each other. My father-in-law, Clayton Lusby, died in 1980, but he will live in me till I draw my last breath. He wasn't rich, or well-educated, or successful in any way the world measures it, but he was and remains my hero and role model. A rough, West Texas redneck truck driver who taught me what it means to love unconditionally. God bless him and all those fathers like him.