“If I could give you one gift it would be for you to see yourself through my eyes as a special co-creation of God.”
— Jeff Wenzler

As I cinched my tie in front of my bathroom mirror, I thought about my date night. It had been far too long since I put everything aside to embrace that who was most important to me. I had taken my eyes off one particular lighthouse in my life.

When she walked down the stairs of our home, I saw a transformed young woman, wrapped in a flowing shawl over a ruby-colored dress. Her hair was done and her blue eyes shimmered beneath her braids. She was a beautiful lady, eager to be my date to the symphony. I hadn’t appreciated her quite like this before.

As all good dates go, I did my best to make her feel special. That was easy. It is so easy to take special people in life for granted, but this night, that would not happen.

I opened the car door for her and made sure her dress was tucked securely in before we set off.

When we arrived at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Milwaukee that February evening, we walked into the grand lobby filled with other special people on special dates. I gathered her coat, she re-wrapped her shawl, and we had something to drink while discussing the symphony. She had never been to one. I could feel many eyes on us as we laughed and looked out the windows across the glittering downtown nightscape.

The overhead lights blinked, announcing the start of the concert. She took hold of my arm as we followed an usher to our seats right up front. This time I could see all the eyes on us as we moved into our seats. Smiles were plentiful and comments made on my date’s pretty dress.

As the orchestra began, her eyes widened. The blended sounds caused her to smile almost with apprehension to the growing pace of the next instrument’s arrival. She whispered an assortment of questions and innocently searched for what sound came from what instrument. She offered her best guess to me by pointing excitedly. I had chosen the right place, the right date for us. She loved it.

At one point during the concert, a few musical pieces in, I could feel her looking at me as I floated on the magnificent music. It was reconfirmed as I slowly looked over. She could tell I was also completely enthralled by the performance. She looked at me with the most caring and beautiful blue eyes, kissed my cheek, and said, “Daddy, I love you!”

My 9-year-old daughter Cecilia re-captured my heart at that moment, just as she had the first time I held her in my arms and she looked into my eyes in the delivery room.

With one graceful movement, she moved from her seat onto my lap, where we watched and listened to the remainder of the concert.

Cecilia was by far the youngest person at the concert that evening, and surely the only person on someone’s lap. She was a single spring flower in the snow. I didn’t care if our new seating arrangement was poor etiquette for a fancy symphony.

I didn’t have a care in the world at that moment except for the amazing bond between father and daughter. I felt unconditional love in that pivotal moment. It was a connection that I will cherish the rest of my life.

I learned that evening, surrounded by musical genius and appreciating eyes, that The Pivotal Life is one worth sharing. Shared love is a life force that will put wind in your sails. It certainly warmed my soul on a cold winter’s night.

Although I might not always brush Cecilia’s hair without tangle or pull, I know we have a permanent connection that works through the snags of life. The roots of our connection run deep, just as east needs west.

From the first day Cecilia and I connected in the delivery room, we worked together to communicate our love. I learned to understand her whimpers, coos and cries and she saw in my eyes what brought me joy and even frustration. She felt protection and comfort in my arms, while I learned sensitivity and nurturing.

Over the years, the blue of her eyes has deepened and reminds me of the blue sea of possibilities. I yearn to give her the tools to navigate the vast sea of life, all while not wanting to let go, as I know I must someday. In my heart, knowing I have provided a compass for a loved one makes it a bit easier to eventually let go.

Although I may not be the best father, I am her best “Daddy.” No matter whether it’s in a pretty dress and elegant hairstyle or play-muddied jeans, she will always be my little lighthouse. She will forever give me purpose and guidance. She makes me want to see the world through her beautiful eyes.

No matter what life throws our way in terms of demands, struggles, or wonderful accomplishments, the joy and purpose of parenting is in time spent sharing love with our child.

As this Dad See’s It … my purpose as a father is to convey to my child, through my time and focused attention, that he or she is valued.

The gift of value will build her self-worth and mature into self-esteem and confidence over the years. Be creative and showcase your love as a parent by surprising your child with devoted attention as a special co-creation of God.

(Jeff is a motivational speaker and author of the newly released book, “The Pivotal Life: A Compass for Discovering Purpose, Passion & Perspective,” from which the preceding story is taken. Jeff is the founding director of Pivotal Directions, Inc., a servant leadership organization for those seeking to make a difference in the world. He is a single father of three wonderful children who attend Lumen Christi Catholic School in Mequon.)