My sons are still at an age where they think I'm an all-star basketball player and that my office job is on par with that of Jack Bauer. They naively promise that they'd never imagine going to the movies with a girl over going to a ballgame with their Dad. They soak in my stories, laugh at my jokes, and are always watching and sometimes to my horror, mirroring my actions.
I know that they'll not always be as open to my voice in their lives as they are today. I know that they'll have to find their own way. When the difficult seasons of distance arrive, may The Word be their compass. And may some of the other words that I've collected for them be an anchor when they drift. Perhaps this will be one such note.
To my sons,
You are both asleep in your bunk beds tonight. Tonight we battled with swords. Last weekend we built a fort. The weekend before that we caught fish. I love being your Dad.
There are so many life lessons that I wish I could imprint on your hearts and seer into your souls. I know that I can only imperfectly attempt to model and teach these things to you. Here are a few of those lessons, a backdrop for your unique story.
Treat women with respect. Love your future wife selflessly, the way Christ loves the church. Entering into marriage with prideful self-interest is like trying to bring luggage that exceeds the weight limit onto a plane. It's possible, but you'll pay handsomely to do it. It's best to shed the baggage of self-interest before you cross the threshold of marriage. The apostle Paul gives us a beautiful description of what true love looks like in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul authored this knowing that the only thing that casts our fear, is Perfect Love. Which brings me to my next point;
Live your life like you are not scared. We are all scared. Kobe Bryant is scared. "I have self-doubt,” Bryant said. “I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and [I don't feel like I can do it]. We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it. You respond to it. You rise above it." The greatest moments of my first 40 years are the times when I've done things that I was terrified to do, but did them anyway. My greatest regrets are the times when I listened to the voice of fear calling me to stand down, leaving me to wonder how those opportunities may have evolved. Nelson Mandela said it best, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." Conquering fear isn't about beating our chests in bravado, it's about finding our greatest strength in our weakness. Which brings me to my prayer for you;
Author Ann Voskamp prayed an amazing prayer for her child. It's my prayer for you. "May [you] be dead to all ladders & never go higher , only lower, to the lonely, the least & the longing. [You] led of the Spirit to lead many to the Cross that leads to the tomb wildly empty." Society nudges us toward the pursuit of happiness via the social, spiritual, career, political, power, and position ladders each leaning alongside one another, calling us to climb. This is a lie as these ladders lead to nowhere. Always go lower, to the least of these. Cast out fear with Perfect Love. Live life like you are not scared, as if the God of the universe is walking alongside you. Live boldly as if the Author of all life created you for good works, all prepared for you in advance. Find a woman to journey with and love her deeply. Be led by the Spirit of God. Lead others, pointing them to the Cross that unites us both in our brokenness and in our Hope. In the words of Bob Goff, "Love God, love people, and do stuff." I can't wait to see the stuff that you will do, the places you will go. I love you more than you'll ever know.