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My Father was Unfair to Himself


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My father was unfair to himself by Chad Gramling

LaMar Gramling was the oldest boy of a rural Indiana family that included four siblings. He passed away while I was in my mid-twenties, at the one time in our lives when I was half his age.

If you were to ask most people who knew him, they would probably first tell you about LaMar’s beard, which rivaled those of ZZ Top and would embarrass today’s most “fashionable” chins. Next, they’d likely convey his ability to fix any type of motor, whether big or small. Some may also tell you all about the ornery nature that he never really outgrew.

If You Only Knew

Those who really knew him, though, would tell you about my dad’s ability to connect with virtually everyone he met. He had some quiet charisma that just made him relatable and approachable. It’s one of the things I most admired about him, and may never find myself able to rise to the standard he set in this arena.

I could talk about those things or even the life-lived wisdom you’d never find in a textbook he would sometimes impart. I could reminisce of his laughter or humor you with his knack for finding trouble. But there are other memories of my father that I ponder more often than any of those things.

Before I do, though, please know that what I’m sharing is no attempt to speak negatively about my dad, nor is it with any sense of anger or resentment. It’s probably not the typical Father’s Day type of remembrance, and I certainly don’t intend to dishonor. The intent, rather, is to honor him for what he would never acknowledge and help all fathers know and remember the impact they have on the lives of their own children.

What I Remember

You see, one of the things I most remember about my father is the unfairness with which he considered himself. It was not a perfectionist attitude, nor was it an expression of religious servitude. Rather, I don’t believe he valued himself.

This attribute is one I sometimes consider with a measure of grief and perhaps a bit of pity. What I take away from those reflections is a desire to actively grow as a person and to impart healthy guidance in building the self-images of my own children, as well those in my sphere of influence.

LaMar was a pretty smart dude, but you wouldn’t dare hear him claim it. It was not an aim of humility or humbleness. No, LaMar was more likely to resort to a self-deprecating narrative he internally believed. That unfair regard is something he never shook during his lifetime, and it probably led to many inner struggles that manifested into numerous external conflicts.

Boys emulate their fathers

It certainly rubbed off on others, too. I present myself as an example. Boys emulate their fathers. That’s a given. Though my parents divorced when I was young, separated a time or two before that, and he worked multiple jobs, I was no exception to this time-held fact. Perhaps that lack of interaction is reasoning to explain why I didn’t inherit his knack for fixing things.

The beard? Well, I didn’t get that either.

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I did, however, claim the propensity for self-deprecation. I thought I had avoided it. However, as an adult and well into my career, I found myself falling into desperation during a stressful era of life. At that time, my anxiety levels were through the roof, my confidence was shattered, and I was prone to long bouts of depression (something I saw well-too often in my household).

Clinging only to Jesus and my cherished family, I sought answers.

The Shame

Long-story short, I examined my early life and discovered instances of shame that were long unresolved. Life changed immensely once I released myself of those anchors and learned to speak more positively about myself.

Perhaps the shame I held onto occurred through the example set by my own father. Perhaps not. But, in the process of searching and realizing this far-reaching impact in my life, I found that I better understood my father, who had long-since passed away by that time.

Today, I look back on the life of LaMar Gramling as a smart man filled with wisdom he forsook. He was a gifted craftsman with unbelievable penmanship. As a father, he undoubtedly loved his children even when he was unable to express it, or believe himself worthy.

And today, I honor him for these things. My prayer is that he has found a similar release in eternity and is able to view himself in such a light.


Chad Gramling is a historian, marketer and author who is “refining life, on purpose.” He is a contributor to The Gospel Post and regularly blogs about his experiences and the ways God is leading him at 1Glories.com.  Connect with him on Twitter @1Glories or Facebook.com/1Glories

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