Dad, Stepdad, Grandpa, Daddy, Pops, Abba, the old man…whatever you call him, we all got one, even Jesus. We all strive and can benefit from a male role model. Dad does not have to be our biological father. He can be a coach, a male mentor, a teacher—whoever provides nurturing for you and teaches you about life.

Relationships are hard. I apologize if your relationship with your father is strained or if he is no longer on this side of heaven. I have been utterly blessed and thankful to have a father on earth who loves me well.

Through his love, there are many life lessons I learned from dad—nothing good happens after midnight, don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s all small stuff, and tomorrow is a new day! These are good lessons that have helped me navigate life. But some lessons were less straightforward.

1. Accept yourself for who you are.

Growing up, I was overshadowed by two boisterous older siblings. I would do anything to please them, make them smile, and be “cool” to them. My malleable personality continued throughout high school and persisted into college.

I yearned to have approval and to be the life of the party and well-liked. This can become a problem when the yearning to please others no longer satisfies you.

I began to feel hidden, unknown, and drained. I wanted to withdraw into isolation when I did not have a jubilant attitude. The facade I’d created inhibited authentic relationships. There was not an option for vulnerability in the social boundaries I’d set.

Upon graduating from college and entering the workforce, friendship and social engagements changed. I found myself alone more often and not hating it. I’d question if that was okay. I’d wonder if was I now a loser.

I’d attend family engagements and observe my father embrace his desires. He would leave early if he was tired, socialize when he felt compelled, and eat when he was hungry. Even as my siblings had children, he was honest and open that he is better with older children. He would not volunteer to babysit or put himself in situations that did not honor himself.

Of course, there were some compromises, but he modeled for me that who I am is who God created me to be and to embrace it.

I began to be okay with the character God instilled in me. It’s acceptable to enjoy being alone, to go to bed early, and to march to my own drum as I perform for the audience of one.

This lesson from my father proves valuable daily. Now, as I’m in my 30s and childless, I am okay with the fact I might never want kids and that is how I’m created. This proves difficult when society says otherwise. So, thank you, dad, for teaching me to embrace who I am and to be true to how I am created so that I can find inner peace.

2. Be kind to all.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar—who has heard that saying before? My mom was the one always saying this cliché, but my dad exemplified it.

In his retired age, I have seen more selfless, kind acts than I could fathom. He helps with Meals on Wheels one week a month, he makes food for local families during holidays, and he has generously helped me financially.

When my brother chose to build a home on his property, he monitored each step of the building process while my brother was at work. Additionally, he helped front any money needed. When my mother struggles (after 20 years of divorce), he unselfishly loves her well, assisting in any way possible.

During college, I had an immense struggle with eating disorders, and he held my hand as we visited inpatient clinics and paid for all the treatment. The blessing was he did not involve me in all the financials, nor did he complain. He just took care of me in my time of need.

When I asked him the lessons he hoped I had taken away from him, he hoped I had learned to always be kind to everyone. And he has definitely been a great example of kindness and love throughout my life.

3. Buy in bulk.

Growing up, my father wouldn’t let me have Starbucks. He would compare the price of paying for a container of coffee that you can make at home every morning to the high prices at Starbucks for one cup. This perturbed when I was younger.

But I now hear his voice in every financial decision. I am aware of my finances and process each expenditure by deciding if it is truly a want or a need. Is it of good value? Most importantly, am I being a good steward of God’s resources?

During high school, he purchased a massive stained glass cross for our church. It was thousands, and I recall my mother being upset with his decision. But I now see how selfless and generous he was being. He introduced me to tithing. Even today, he is selfless when I need financial help. (I might still be on his cell phone plan.)

4. Work comes before play.

As I neared high school graduation, the question was not if I was going to college but where was I going to college. My siblings and I never saw education ending after high school. My father was (and is still) adamant education is the surest route to worldly success.

He paid for all three of his children’s undergraduate education. He blessed us with the gift and freedom of not working to focus on our studies. As I transitioned to graduate school, he walked me through student loans and assisted me financially.

Sitting at the dinner table as a child, he would correct not only my grammar but also my social etiquette. I have him to thank for my educated diction and ability to communicate. Although my career might not utilize my BA or MA, I am ever so thankful to have accomplished obtaining them because hard work pays off. And hard work comes before play.

As I’ve written this, I pray I have given justice to the incredible man my father is. There is no sweetness as the words, “I am proud of you,” and “I love you,” escaping his lips. He is my rock and helps me in my faith journey as he is my sole family member devoted to Jesus. I treasure him and his wisdom. And I am so thankful for all the lessons I learned from dad.

I have lived a charmed life, perhaps spoiled, because of Kenneth Willard Fuqua. Thank you, Dad. I love you.

To show dad love and appreciation this Father’s Day, sign him up for the Month of Manliness in July at Chase Oaks. It is a month of awesomeness for men as they enjoy great food, live teaching, and an opportunity to connect with other men in the same stage of life.