I grew up in the Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas, having gone to Sunday school followed by a full church service each and every Sunday. I was taught that Jesus was our Lord and that he set the standard for a moral code by which we should all model our behavior, actions, speech, and lives: truth, patience, civility, caring, inclusiveness, and love.
I was taught that I could check in with Jesus whenever I needed to “do the right thing,” by simply asking: “What would Jesus do?”
But as a small child before I knew who or what Jesus was, I was already filled with happiness and a positive attitude. As I grew up and my awareness of the ways of the world was developing, Jesus was to me a story that came from a book (the Bible) written by mortal men. I could not see Jesus, look him in the eye, touch him, talk to him, listen to him, smile with him, walk with him, shake his hand, and maybe even hug him.
My parents, however, were there for me in person every step of the way until I finally graduated from college, got married, and started taking care of myself and my family. My parents were my daily teachers, mentors, leaders, supporters, comforters, and healers. They loved me and I loved them back and there was no sweeter moment throughout my life than when I could give them a heartfelt hug and “thank you” for everything they did for me and my siblings.
My dad passed away at 100 after living a spectacularly good life until the very end. His faith and loyalty to Jesus and Christianity never wavered and was without doubt a constant source of strength and guidance in his life. He may have been a little sad and disappointed in me that after I left the safe and warm womb of home to go out into the world, I did not affiliate with and practice a formal religion on a weekly basis.
But if he was disappointed in me for that, he never said so and I know he knew I was a good man and he had everything to do with that: not Jesus or Muhammad or the Pope(s) or Mary or Moses or Joseph Smith or Siddhartha or Krishna. I have always respected, appreciated, and learned from these religious icons and the examples they set for the world, but they did not have the day-to-day realness and impact of my parents who would say to me every day, “I love you.”
For me, it will ALWAYS be, “What would Dad do?”