by Cade Lowrance
My philosophy on life has been completely shaped by an 84-year-old man. My great-grandfather, Pete, has taught me many things in the eighteen years that I have known him. However, the three lessons that have manifested how I live my life have been: how to live respectably, how to express love and kindness to others without underlying motives or prejudices, and how to answer the teleological question, “Where am I going?”
Pete was born into a poor family, working nearly everyday of his life after nine years old. His work ethic was established at a young age because of its necessity. This same work ethic was passed down to me, not because it was necessary to work to survive, but because it is a respectable quality to be as self-reliant as humanly possible. Pete has always told me, “If you are going to be a garbage collector, be the best garbage collector in town so that the world and God may see your good works.” This simple narrative that I have been taught since early childhood holds a deep truth that has instilled in me a workmanship to try and glorify God and those that I love.
While Pete was economically poor for the majority of his life, his foremost concern has always been how to take care of, provide for, and love others. My great-grandfather has been an exemplary example by his servant’s heart, one that I strive to emulate one day. He has built churches in foreign nations on limited resources and money, cooked meals for homeless and hospitalized people without expecting any reward in return, and has embodied the “Imago Dei,” image of God in his daily life. One amazing example of his unconditional love for all people was through the care he gave to a young man with Down syndrome. Ethan, the aforementioned young man, is a close friend to our family and especially Pete. Ethan is close to ten years older than me, but at around fifteen years old, he was extremely lonely. His grief-stricken father and emotionally overwhelmed brother were dealing with post-traumatic stress from the loss of Ethan’s mother, who was killed in a car crash around that time. In light of this, Pete chose to bring Ethan over to his house at every opportunity that he could to bake cookies with him, sing songs from musicals (Ethan’s favorite subject), or allow the two of us to play together.
At such a young age, I did not understand that Ethan was any different from me, and Pete did not want me to. It was not until I was several years older that I recognized that Ethan was different than I, and when I brought this up to Pete, he asked me, “Does this change the way you view Ethan or make you want to spend any less time with him?” Pete taught me a lesson in loving those around me for who they are, despite their differences or backgrounds.
Pete has formed who I wish to be in this world and the impact I desire to leave. I have worked with him on many different humanitarian projects, such as praying with and providing firewood to a group of homeless people that live near his house. His philosophy of working hard and leaving a mark on this world has permeated my being and inspired me to be a servant leader like him. Some of my favorite ways to serve and help others are those that remind me of my great-grandfather. Some of these include playing guitar and singing for the elderly and working for the non-profit youth organization DeMolay International. I hope to take the wisdom that Pete has imparted to me to leave my mark as a servant of humanity and share the love of Christ through my deeds.