I grew up in Shelby, N.C., and was the middle of three children. I had an old sister, Cissy, and a younger brother, Bo.
The problem was that some relatives and at least one teacher compared me unfavorably with my sister. I felt I lived in her shadow. That wouldn't have been so bad except that Cissy was extremely good and very smart - a powerful combination.
The crisis came when I was in the eighth grade and brought home a bad report card and a bad note from the principal. But what my dad did for me that day - he didn't say was, "Nell, why can't you do right? Why can't you take advantage of your opportunities? Why can't you be more like your sister?"
Instead, he said, "Something's been troubling you. Do you want to tell me what it is?"
Suddenly, I blurted out, "Daddy, I can't be like Cissy."
His reply changed forever the way I see myself and the way I see God.
"Oh, you're not supposed to be like her," my dad replied.
Then, he held out his left hand cupped, and with his right hand seemed to be dropping something into his left hand. I can still see that clearly in my mind's eye. What he said was, "Nell, God put a treasure in you. It's different from your sister's and your brother's, and what your mother and I want to do is to help you discover your treasure."
My father set me free to see myself as a person of worth because of the treasure God had placed inside me. Truthfully, I've never discovered that treasure, but the knowledge of it has enabled me to like myself, to love others and to have a sudden zest for learning.
Most of all, that knowledge has led me to a committed relationship with God, with Christ and with his church in which I've served professionally and as a volunteer.
Today, I salute my dad, the late John Wonnie Webb, and all dads who are sensitive to the feelings of their children.
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.