Your Influences

Someone asked me a question recently. They asked who my influences were I told them about a few preachers and my parents. Later, I thought about four men, four men who, in my opinion, attained celebrity status. Four men who had an impact on my life from my earliest memories.

The first man let me know he appreciated me. He told me every time I saw him that he liked me just the way I was. He spent time with me every day we could get together. He taught me how to be a friend and how to care about other people as much as he cared about me. He invited me to sing with him, he was kind, forgiving, and I knew he liked being around me. He told me so . . . often. I wanted to grow up to be like him . . . I am over 50 now and I still try to be like him. His name is Fred Rogers, we all know him as Mr. Rogers and we all loved his Neighborhood.

The second man is one you know.
You like him too, I’m certain so.
He helped me learn to take a look
In side the cover of many a book.
Many of you will agree the same,
That his rhymes made your tongue lame.
Who is this man who did unlock
A love of reading, it’s Seuss, the Doc.

The third man is one who shared a love of news and people of interest. He could tell me about people and places that others knew nothing of or may have cared little for. He would share tidbits about the lives of famous people as well as the struggles and triumphs of a next door neighbor. His narratives fill books, his voice carried far. He taught me to look under the surface, to see past what others saw. He taught me that everyone has something to say and there is after every event, “the rest of the story.” I will miss Paul Harvey and his unique way of bringing news.

I did not personally know Dr. Seuss, Mr. Rogers, or Paul Harvey, but the fourth man is one I do know. I spend time with this man daily. I talk with him, I tell him the cares and concerns of my life. He listens . . . patiently. I find comfort in having a friend like him. I watch how he handles the pressures of life. He has never had a lot of material things to call his own. He spent a few years of his life practically homeless. If it had not been for the kindness of friends I am certain he would have spent many, many nights on the street. This man took the lessons I learned from the other three and perfected them. He sees me for who I am and loves me just the same. He takes my love of reading in a new direction and shows me how to care for others as others, like him, have cared for me. He shows me how to have compassion on the individual especially those the world may overlook. Who is this man? That is not just the rest of the story . . . He is the story. He is Jesus the Christ. Maybe you know Him too. I pray that you do.

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