My (step) dad recently passed away from complications related to his long fought battle with Alzheimer’s. At the funeral, the pastor, friends, and family members honored my dad in a very special memorial service. I had the honor of speaking for a few moments and had the privilege of sharing one of my favorite stories/memories about my dad.
He retired about 10 years ago, but for as far back as I can remember, he worked as a sporting goods representative. This meant that he worked as a middle-man between sporting goods companies (i.e., Wilson, Sevylor, McGregor) and sporting goods stores (i.e., Dick’s, Academy). Whenever new products came out, we got samples at our home, so we always had an abundance of new coolers, inflatable rafts, and basketballs!
Even better, a few times every year, he hosted a booth at a sporting goods show. At these shows, he met with other vendors and companies as they all showed off their new equipment. My favorite part of these shows is that famous athletes represented many of these companies. For example, if he were at a show today, he might see LeBron James repping the latest shoe at Nike or Stephen Curry showing off the latest and greatest from Under Armor. Every time my dad worked a show, he brought home a small stack of signed pictures and personalized notes from the famous athletes of the day.
A few years ago, I leafed through my scrapbook filled with autographs of my favorite players received from my dad and his shows. Many of you wouldn’t recognize their names today, but they were the best of the best in the 80’s. As I looked through the autographs, I realized many of them looked the same. When I finally put two and two together (and later confirmed with my mom), I discovered that my dad forged the autographs of about 90% of my supposed ‘famous’ signatures. Instead of a scrapbook filled with pictures and signatures of all-time great athletes, I have a scrapbook filled with my dad’s autograph on a bunch of different pictures and looseleaf paper.
I probably should have figured it out 20 years sooner, but I had no reason to distrust my step-dad. After all, he was my dad, I’d been to the shows and had seen the athletes, and each athlete wrote me a nice, personal note.
I promise I’m not writing this out of anger or frustration with my dad. Instead, it just becomes a humorous story and an object lesson that reminds me that I want to be real and not a fake. I want my life photo album to be filled with “real autographs,” not a bunch of forgeries and fake snapshots.
As I think back on one of my most unforgettable memories of my dad, I’ve thought of a few reasons why I always want to keep things real:
- Real is much more valuable than fake. I don’t know if those signatures from Pete Rose and Marvin Hagler would be worth anything today, but I do know signatures from my step-dad are worth nothing! In relationships (especially marriage), real is much more valuable than fake. In marriage, the husband and wife become one flesh with each other (Genesis 2:24). The one flesh relationship calls for a husband and wife to be real with each other. In fact, there is to be no shame between the husband and wife (Genesis 2:25).
- Real leaves a great impression on others. Fake is temporary and ultimately leads to bitterness and a sour taste in the mouth. When we see or hear someone share with authenticity, we walk away grateful and challenged. When we see fake, we feel cheap and used.
- Real builds community. Fake turns others away. While we often fear what will happen when we’re honest with others, just about every time it pulls others in. We’re attracted to people who keep it real and choose to be honest. We know when others are fake, and it pushes us away. When someone else gives me the permission to be real (by being real themselves), it draws me in and makes me want to be honest with them.
- Real honors God. Fake honors the devil.
- Proverbs 12:22 says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
- John 8:44 says, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Enough said. This one speaks for itself.
For some immediate application, let me keep it real.
- I’m afraid that if you really get to know the real me that you’ll never come back.
- I’m afraid you’ll see me as a fraud (aka a fake signature).
- 2016 was not my favorite year. I struggled with some significant public speaking anxiety (which completely stinks when you’re a pastor/teacher), and I didn’t take good care of my body.
- Sometimes I’m a terrible dad and husband.
My hope for some of you is that through this post, you might realize your life is a scrapbook filled with fake signatures. I hope this site always provides an honest voice and spurs you on to do the same with others. I hope you feel the freedom to share with others where your life is like a fake signature.
At the end of the day, I still love my dad and thank God for the impact he had on me. At the same time, I wish one of the “gifts” he left behind for me wasn’t a scrapbook filled with fake signatures. Yet, this very same scrapbook is an invaluable object lesson that reminds me of the value of keeping it real, and not walking through life as a fake.