The Man I Hoped to Be


by John C. Westervelt


        At age eighty-three, I am moving late in the spring to Crestwood retirement home on the campus of Oklahoma Methodist Manor. With both of my children living in Texas, I have been cleaning out shelves to ease their task on moving day. While throwing away old records, I came across a quarter-inch stack of three by five index cards held together by an aging rubber band. I stopped to read a few cards and then read all twenty-five of them. A single card covered a subject, except that two cards were needed for my job and three for my wife.

        Dr. Bill Lantz taught an eight-week course at Asbury in 1973. With our children busy with high school, my wife Nelda and I enrolled in the class. Each week the members of the class would develop a description of who we would like to be in a relationship and write those words on a card.

Week by week, we developed cards on family, friends, job, and our personal and spiritual lives. The cards were personal and not to be shared. Dr. Lantz said if we would read our cards each day, we would become the person we hoped to be. I did that for many years. With life nearly complete, I’ll share my cards about my wife, my son, and my daughter.


        “I love my wife Nelda. I remember the command of the scripture. I adore her. I think about her many times daily. I look forward to being with her. I give thoughtful and meaningful gifts to her. I notice things that she is wearing and comment on them. When I kiss her and verbally express my love it has feeling, emotion, and passion. I show affection and attentiveness warmly, feelingly, and frequently. I take her out with the enjoyment of fresh courtship. I find things to praise her for sincerely and eagerly.

        “I make appropriate remembrances of holidays and anniversaries. I am sympathetic with her and her work. I truly appreciate the work she does with the children and do what I can to help. I am concerned for her feelings and ideas. I respect her and like her. I think of us as a team working together. I recognize clearly the mental and emotional differences between men and women and respect them. I find delight in pleasing her. I find joy in her joy. We enjoy expressing our love verbally, physically, and in subtle indirect ways.

        “I am generous, gentle, considerate, kind, patient, positive, trusting, prayerful, understanding, fun-loving, courteous, and romantic. Our love is a great love and a testimony to the power of God in a marriage and home.”


        “I love my son Paul (age 17). God, I give his life to You. I understand You expect me to continue to have responsibility in some areas of Paul’s life. I also know my release of him must move at a pace that puts Paul on his own decision-making path in another year. God, where you lead Paul, I will be supportive of his goals.”


        “I love my daughter Mary Kim (age 15). God, I give her life to You. I am patient in her growing into womanhood. I provide freedom for her and constraints appropriate to her age and maturity. I am interested in her interests. I appreciate her determination.”


        My children now have children of their own. You can ask Paul and Mary Kim if their dad did what he hoped he would do. Unfortunately, Nelda moved on to heaven twenty-four years ago, so you will have to wait to ask her. I don’t suppose I ever fully became the man I hoped to be, but I feel sure I was a better man for having tried.


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