What inspires you, dad? What keeps you going?
If you’re anything like me, your heart is stirred by O.J. Brigance. Of the many stories in the headlines as we look forward to the big game on Sunday, this one is my favorite.
I’m fortunate to call O.J. a friend, having met him and his bride some fifteen years ago, long before his current challenges.
In case you haven’t heard of him, O.J. is a former linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, and is currently the team’s senior adviser on player development. He’s also in a fight against A.L.S., Lou Gehrig’s disease, after being diagnosed in 2007. Still, although confined to a wheelchair and without the ability move or speak except through a special computer, he has continued to show up for work every day and be a force of inspiration for the Ravens during the season and their run to the Super Bowl.
Just read some of his quotes:
After defeating the Patriots in the AFC Championship, he told the team,
“Your resiliency has outlasted your adversity. You are the AFC champions. You are my mighty men. With God, all things are possible.”
And in an interview, he said,
“The truth of the matter is those men inspire me. They have helped give me a reason to get up out of the bed every morning. There is a proverb that says, ‘As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.’ We are making each other better men.”
Watch this video from ESPN about his story:
Now, dads, I hope O.J.’s life and words inspire you as well. All of us committed dads can point to events and people and life truths that motivate us and keep us going strong. Sure, sometimes we go through low times as fathers and we need to re-charge…
Maybe you’ve gone through a challenge that has forever changed you, reminded you about what’s really important, or convicted you about being a better example for your children. It could be facing a life-threatening condition. It could be career failures that left you searching for meaning in better places. Maybe it was a distant relationship with your dad or painful childhood memories that now motivate you to provide your kids with a better experience. Maybe it was a spiritual journey.
There are people like O.J. who are truly heroes—who are facing huge obstacles in life, and yet are optimistic and using the opportunities in front of them to make a difference in the world. And I believe you can be that for your children.
Often, I want life to be easy. Are you like that? But I believe the difficult times demonstrate that there’s more good that needs to come out of me.
Do you ever feel like giving up in your fathering role? Are you tested by your kids?
There’s a good chance you’re facing some challenges today. Maybe you and your children’s mother aren’t on the same page. Or maybe a disease or some other physical hardship has come upon you or a family member. Or a financial challenge.
Maybe you’re a non-custodial dad who can’t be with the children you love so much. Maybe you have deep anger issues that come out at the wrong times. Maybe your children have gone off the deep end and you have no clue how to respond. Maybe life has become so busy that you simply can’t keep up with all the everyday tasks and interactions that come with being a dad.
It isn’t easy! And I wouldn’t wish difficulties on anyone, but I’ve been around long enough to know that sooner or later, we’re all going to face them. It’s part of life, plain and simple. But we mustn’t quit. Sometimes difficulties are there to test our character. For the sake of our families, we have to rise to meet the challenges.
I also know that those trials can make us stronger—they can help us grow in perseverance and maturity, and they can prepare us to help others who might be facing something similar.
I hope O.J. Brigance gives you a new perspective on whatever you’re facing as a dad. Be inspired to keep doing what’s right for your family, even when it’s hard.
In the process, I believe you will become an inspiration to someone nearby who’s watching you. Your kids need you to be a good dad, but other people need to see it, too. Many people benefit from seeing examples of great fathers in action. If we’re going to create a Championship Fathering culture, we need to radiate positive examples to the world.
Let me end with one final quote from O.J.:
“Regardless of what we go through in life, there is always purpose wrapped within the pain. It all boils down to this: every triumph and tragedy in my life has served as preparation to stand firm in this moment, to take what many perceive as an unbearable circumstance and impact the lives of others.
ACTION POINTS for Dads on the Journey
- Watch the video above with your family. Ask your children what they think or feel after watching it.
- It’s only been a month, but how are your fathering resolutions going? Maybe this is a good time to re-commit to something important that you need to do (or do better) for your family this year.
- Ask each of your family members, “What inspires or encourages you?” Remember their answers and seek to provide that for them regularly.
- For whatever challenges you’re facing, talk to another dad! (Shared joy is doubled, and shared sorrow is halved.)
- Are you watching the big game with your family? Here’s a prediction sheet you can use to help keep the kids interested and involved (if they aren’t already).
We want to hear from you. What inspires you or keeps you going through hard times? Please join the discussion below or on our Facebook page.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.