3 Important Lessons I’ve Learned From My Father-In-Law
This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend four days soaking up the sun and fabulous ocean views in Santa Barbara, California. Santa Barbara is where my lucky husband got to spend his childhood, just a few blocks away from the beach! Rough life.
David and I were in Cali to celebrate my father-in-law’s 60th birthday. “My David”, the one I’m married too, is David Allen Eseke III or “D3”. David’s daddy, David Allen Eseke Jr. (whom I usually refer to as “Big David” or “D2”) is truly an inspirational individual and someone I am deeply honored to call family.
Talk about someone who has lived a page-turner! This man has lived a powerful story of redemption from deep valleys to incredible summits. So far, his journey has been both an arduous and gratifying adventure, but most importantly it has been rich with God’s provision and presence.
One of my favorite things about D2 is that he possesses a level of grit that equals the depth of compassion he has for others. He is decidedly tenacious when it comes to his career, sobriety, and his pursuit of Christ. Yet he is equally as steadfast in his deep love for others – his family, friends, the guys in line for ice cream in front of him, the hitchhikers on the side of the road during his last vacation in Maui, his friends in Ethiopia…. basically all humans.
In honor of “Big David’s” big 60th birthday, I thought I’d share the top three lessons I’ve learned from my father-in-law over the past year of getting to be his daughter. I hope these lessons bless you as much as they have impacted me!
Lesson #1: Be real.
From the first day I met D2, he has been an open book. During my first dinner with the Eseke family, he freely shared the story of his recovery from an eleven-year addiction to cocaine and alcohol. The rawness and humility in which he told his journey quite honestly shocked me.
He told us of the dark times growing up with an alcoholic mother who had 5 failed marriages. He shared stories of drug binges and multiple failed trips to rehab. And then, one trip in which he encountered God. And how after that, everything changed. By the time “my David” was 6 year’s old, D2 was back at home, sober, in love with Jesus, and working hard to provide a comfortable life for his bride and two children.
David is honest, humble, and actually eager to share the messy parts of his story so that others can learn from it and praise God because if it. Because of this, he inspires those around him to be vulnerable and open. It is incredible how many people’s lives have been touched by this man’s vulnerability and the compassionate way he listens to, prays for, and loves on his friends. He lives out Romans 12:15 better than anyone I know.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”Romans 12:15
During D2’s birthday dinner over the weekend, one of the Eseke’s good friends said it perfectly, “David has lived a messy life and he is not afraid to enter into the mess of other people’s lives.”
D2 has taught me a very important lesson: How to be real.
I pray that I am brave enough to show others my mess and how Jesus continues to clean it up. I pray that I am bold enough to “enter into the mess of those around me,” because I know that true love is actually really messy.
Lesson #2: Success requires sacrifice.
As a self-made entrepreneur, D2’s career history is truly admirable. Despite a rough childhood and having no high school diploma, D2 worked his way from selling cassette tapes to grocery stores to eventually owning over 150 cell phone stores spread across the western United States. Since then he has built and sold 2 other companies. Even at age 60 he continues to dream up bigger and better entrepreneurial ventures!
So you can imagine why my David and I listen intently when he shells out business or sales-related advice. (And thankfully there always seems to be an ample supply.)
One Davidism that I’ll ways remember is this:
“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.”
D2 has exemplified this motto by years of hard work, long hours, by taking risks and thinking outside of the box. He is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. No task is too lowly, no project is too big, no decision is too difficult to make. He is determined, wise from years of learning, and completely gifted when it comes to sales. I think it is because in nearly everything he does, he is sincerely humble yet outrageously bold at the same time.
The beautiful thing is that D2’s slogan for success also applies to his relationships with friends and family and the way he approaches ministry. The principal of Ecclesiastes 9:10 (“whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might”) is evident in the way he loves those around him. D2 will joyfully sacrifice time, sleep, and cash to insure he gets quality time with his loved ones. D2 also finds joy in working with all his might to encourage others by speaking in the church, leading mission trips, or simply being a good friend.
David is successful because he is willing to give everything he has for the things that he loves – first God, then his family and friends, and third his business.
I hope that by the time I am 60 years old, that I too, can say I am successful because I gave everything I had and “worked with all my might” for my God, my people, and my passions.
Lesson #3: God is sufficient.
D2 will tell you that God is sufficient (2 Corinthians 3:5) because he has lived it.
During those dark months in rehab, when he was away from his wife and children with no job, no personal possessions, and little hope, God was enough.
God was enough when his business what on the brink of bankruptcy.
God was enough when his beautiful wife was diagnosed with cancer last year.
God is enough as he faces a biopsy tomorrow for an ominous looking lump in his neck.
One of David Eseke (Jr)’s theme verses is Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” It is likely that he will tear up when he explains to you why this one his favorite. David truly understands the immense power and transcending peace that is packed into that statement.
D2 lives his life for a God who is with him. He steps boldly into each day with a realistic assurance and an unwavering faith that God is with him, no matter what the outcome or situation. Whether he is facing tremendous trials or flying on the heights of great success, his response is always the same – God is sufficient.
Like D2, I pray that I will stand firm in the assurance of God’s faithfulness no matter what is written on the next page in my story.
Thanks for welcoming me into your family with open arms. Thank you for showing me that truly loving others is messy but worth it. Thanks for raising my David to be the strong, driven, godly man that he is today. And thank you for living a page-turning story that is a constant reminder of God’s sufficiency.
(Your Favorite Daughter-in-Law)
Photo credit: Carissa Uribe, fabulously talented photographer and cutest new mom to baby Natalie!