One of our favorite family traditions is that sometime during the holidays, we all go to a movie together. Even as our children have grown, our tradition continues. Recently, that has meant going to a Star Wars movie every other year.
Believing leads to success
While I enjoy the new episodes, as you might imagine, I have fond memories from some of the older ones. Perhaps my favorite is the well-known scene when Yoda is teaching the young Luke Skywalker the ways of the Jedi. After Luke is unsuccessful several times, tiny Yoda lifts the X-Wing fighter from the water using “the force”. As Yoda guides the fighter to settle on the dry ground, Luke exclaims, “I don’t believe it”. His teacher mutters, “That is why you fail.”
This is a lesson I love – success begins with believing.
Be There Dad understands that our success depends on our willingness to believe. We will continue to believe what the data, research and our own experiences have shown us – we believe that like Yoda, we can summon a “force” called “presence” and amazing things will happen. We will continue to believe that when dads and dad like persons are engaged in the lives of children, good things happen. Kids stay in school. Kids get better grades. Their behavior improves. They build better relationships. Their self-esteem raises and their confidence increases. They can fulfill their potentials and they can find that best place where they are intended to be.
Walk to the end of the light
One dark night a storm approached a farm. The mother summoned her teenage son to go and secure the door on the barn. The young man went out the front door, but quickly returned, telling his mother that he could not see the barn. His mother gave him a flashlight and instructed him again to check on the barn door. Just as quickly, the boy returned again saying the light was dim and he still could not see the barn. His mother sent him out a third time, directing him, “you don’t have to see the barn, just walk to the end of the light.”
In our history, Be There Dad has endeavored to “walk to the end of our light”. Although we know our objective – that all children will feel the power of presence – is out there; we have not fully achieved it, yet. So, dutifully, we walk to the end of the light; then take the next step, believing the next steps on the path will be revealed.
Stepping Beyond the Light
I have been honored with an invitation to chair the Advisory Board for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Male Empowerment Network. I have been asked to maintain the energy of the initiative; to encourage men across the school district to engage; to bring awareness to the community and affirm the value of male engagement. In accepting this assignment, I will entrust the day to day guidance of the Be There Dad school groups to Dion Jones. Both of us will pursue a broader calling. We will both challenge our belief in and passion for the power of presence and take new steps on our journey. Beyond the light. I am confident we can do it, because we have many folks who believe in us.
Leading our Children
As dads, we can prepare our children to find their way beyond the light into the unknown called “growing up”. Every day, Be There Dads, act as role models and guardians as they encourage kids to walk in search of the places where they will be their best. Every day, our Be There Dads believe in the vision, so they shine the torch of presence on the path before them. They “punch holes in the darkness”, believing that if they walk to the end of the light, other opportunities to impact more children will be revealed to them.
Together we are better
Recently, my path took me to a meeting with a representative of another national male engagement organization. We talked about how we could collaborate to reach more dads and serve more children. My colleague reminded me that “together we are better”. We agreed that by working together we are more likely to bring the light to every child. I dream of the day when, like my hero Yoda, this little old man might watch as the power of presence lifts that very last child to their better place.
This coming year, we do not know where the light might lead us. But I do know that place will be better if we go there together. I hope that all Be There Dads [and our supporters and collaborators] will continue to pursue our vision. This year I encourage us all to simply walk to the end of the light – and then take one more step.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things unseen.