I lived in Rockaway, New Jersey, a suburban community for most of my upbringing, from the age of 9 to 27, with a 4-year stint away at college. We lived on top of a hill, on a 1/3 acre lot. It became a common practice to go for walks around the block with my Dad after dinner. Sometimes we’d just walk around the immediate block once, sometimes twice and sometimes we’d walk all the way down to the bottom of the hill and back up again.
What I enjoyed most with these walks was having the chance to talk freely about anything on my heart, and my Dad would listen. He’d share his thoughts as well, but for the most part, I recall being the one sharing mine.
This pastime had a profound impact on my life. I felt the most loved at these times. I felt heard. I felt valued.
I don’t know if my Dad felt loved in this same way of being heard or if he felt loved by being spoken to so freely. I imagine both were true. However, I do know he rarely shut me down, and he always seemed eager to hear my thoughts. And as a result, I always felt welcome to share with him anything and everything.
This regular heart-inspired exchange modeled for me a relationship I share with my heavenly Father. Through my Dad I learned that I matter to Abba, my heavenly Father, that the passions of my heart mean something, and that there is an intrinsic value to my being. My Dad taught me the love of the Father in heaven.
Looking back over my adult years, it’s so easy to see the similarities between my father and I…the similar path we have taken.
- We shared a passion for the One who made us and His Word. He taught me to read daily and to test everything in Scripture.
- We worked together in business. He mentored me and groomed me in entrepreneurship.
- We shared in political engagement. He taught me to speak out in public, and to engage in the community around me. He taught me to promote the values I hold through both my words and deeds.
- We shared in writing our thoughts down. He taught me to take what’s inside my heart and mind and put it in a format where others can get to know what makes me tick.
These shared experiences demonstrate to me that when we walk with our heavenly Father in loving devotion, His ways become our ways. I feel so incredibly blessed to have had this relationship here on earth.