My father was born Amish, the fourth oldest of nine children. He was 18 years old when he and my mother were married, and I am the youngest of their six children. I grew up Beachy Amish Mennonite, a group that dressed in plain clothes, but embraced most modern technology. I didn't like it. I didn't like the restrictions, I didn't like looking different from everyone else. My dad and I had a conflicted relationship and I wouldn't have wanted to admit I was becoming like him when he was still alive. As he and I would have our many conversations about my desire to leave their church, he had one line that he often repeated, "John, don't just think about yourself, but think about your children and their children." And I have come to absolutely agree with that concern.
My father was a carpenter, skilled at building and remodeling homes, offices, and retail outlets. As his sons, all five of us spent our summers working with him through most of middle school and high school. What most impressed me about him was that the values he taught me were the values he lived. He worked hard, didn't drink or use coarse language, treated others with respect, was generous in helping those in need. He wasn't afraid to ask for help when he needed it. You saw one man whether it was at home, at church, or in the workplace. It wasn't until I was older that entered the working world that I discovered how rare that is. I learned that people from all walks of life and all kinds of religious background were often inconsistent in the way they lived their values. And I learned how hard it is to live that way in my own life.
I think I am understanding better the secret to his consistent faith. You see, my father and I have the same Father in heaven. And when my earthly father was sitting in the living room in the early morning, he was spending time with that Father. And it is this relationship with my Father that moves me to sacrifice my own needs and desires and to begin living on behalf of not just my children and their children, but on behalf of the world as a whole. It is this relationship that strengthens my inner self to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God." (Micah 6:8) My father lived well and left a wonderful legacy. Martin Luther King, Jr summarized it well,"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
-John M Troyer