Thankful Nation

T.D. Jakes: 'Stick Together': Thankful for the lessons I learned from my parents

T. D. Jakes

Stick together” my mother whispered as she ebbed between life and eternity, uttering the very last words I would ever hear from the matriarch who’d raised me singularly since my father’s passing decades earlier.

As she lay cradled in my arms, her last breaths were spent admonishing my siblings and me to continue as the familial unit that our parents patterned for us over our lifetime through an amalgamation of unbridled love, hard work, and true grit.

That gentle reproof has always underscored my intuitive understanding of family. As a father of five and grandfather of four, I’ve found that there is nothing more enveloping and soul satisfying than the unconditional love of family served lavishly like a feast set before a king.

We do not choose family, but in the seeming serendipity of the hand that holds the cards that we are dealt, something miraculous occurs.  We become who we are in the reflection of those from whom we form our perceptions of love.

We do not choose family, but in the seeming serendipity of the hand that holds the cards that we are dealt, something miraculous occurs. We become who we are in the reflection of those from whom we form our perceptions of love.

Being fortunate enough to have experienced the security blanket of that first love, I am thankful for the gift of family that pays itself forward with each generation.  As I have freely received love, I am able to give freely.

Family is at the center of my vocation.  It is the first institution ordained by God.  Long before the establishment of the New Testament church in the first century AD, there was family in its various forms stretching across the epochs.  The good book is filled with examples of kinfolks and tribes, both exceptional and dysfunctional.  

Thanksgiving is an annual reminder of the bountifulness of family.  It is a season for reflecting on the cornucopia of blessings that family brings, a time to pull aside and direct attention to those upon whom we are dependent for our sense of well-being.  It is a time for slowing down, gathering from all corners of the earth, and reaffirming what makes us who we are.

My heart goes out to those for whom Thanksgiving is a time of deep loneliness and a source of disharmony, disconnection and unwelcomed memories.  While it is impossible to give what you did not receive from the family of origin, you can give out of what you need.  If love, give love.  If connection, reach out to others.  Form new, life-giving liaisons that nourish the heart.

As a father with a family of my own, I have never failed to carry forward the lessons gleaned by my parents’ example.  Along the way, I have learned that love of family does not always cloak us from hurt, disappointment, pain, guilt or grief.  It does however provide us a welcomed shelter from the storm, a safe harbor, a soft place to land, and to be ourselves, unjudged at depth of our imperfection.  It also reminds me of what’s most essential -- sticking together.

By Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor, The Potter’s House of Dallas, Inc.

Postscript:  With the atrocities in France and Mali close at hand, this Thanksgiving, as we hold our loved ones dear let us pray for those nations and thank God for the peace and liberty that our nation affords us.  We can also be mindful of the debt of gratitude that we owe our armed forces and those upon whom we depend daily to keep our borders and our cities safe. 

Bishop T.D. Jakes is the senior pastor of The Potter’s House, a 30,000 member church in Dallas.  He is also the author of nearly 40 books including The New York Times
bestseller, “Destiny:  Step into your Purpose.”