Tonight is the last night of the full nest in our home. Tomorrow afternoon we will drive up to Duluth, Minnesota to move Noah into his dorm. We have had quite a hectic weekend, but as the last of the laundry was done and the van was loaded up tonight, naturally I became a bit pensive. Always an easy crier, I’ll admit that I teared up a bit in church this morning looking over at Adam running sound and Noah playing the cajon and thinking what handsome, capable, intelligent, compassionate young men they have both grown into. My heart explodes with pride. Not only do I love them more than mere words can express, but I really, really like them too. They are so hilarious, witty, smart, engaging, and fun!
A friend of mine posted this on Facebook last week. If you are too uninspired to go to the hyperlink, I’ll summarize. Basically a guy I don’t know, named Alan Heathcock, posted the following poster that his 16 year old daughter received as a birthday gift:
Just ponder those word for a moment. Basically, as a female, your life is defined by a boy. Ick. As many fathers would be, he was kinda miffed about the message this was sending to his daughter, so he wrote his own. It is cut and pasted below:
What I want for you: A life driven by a sense of freedom. A life of learning and being empowered by the knowledge you can change the world. To find cures for diseases. To design buildings that will stand for hundreds of years. To write symphonies. To be a voice for those suffering and change the laws that oppress and discriminate. To be the first human to walk on Mars. To sit at the head of a boardroom table. To travel the world and paraglide off the peaks of mountains. To eat amazing meals in the world’s most beautiful cities. To tell and hear jokes in many languages and watch the sun rise on the shores of lakes and oceans and know that people are beautiful and the world is beautiful. To know your life is of your design. Your whim. Your dreams. Your work. I want you to be kind and considerate, curious and tenacious. To give respect and demand respect in return. Most of all, I want you to know you’re loved and that I truly believe you can claim an extraordinary life filled with wonderful relationships and adventures all without ever compromising who you are or who you want to be.
It sounds nice overall at first glance, but upon re-reading it I found it was focused on “success” as the world defines it. For example, “To find cures for diseases. To design buildings that will stand for hundreds of years. To write symphonies.” Yes, shoot for the stars. We should encourage our children to become people they never dreamed they could be and do things they never imagined they could do. But…the reality is that most of us never will go to Mars or cure a disease. Some of us will quietly impact the world in small, but significant ways one person at a time. Some people don’t want to sit at the head of a boardroom table, but would prefer to be the idea person or graphic designer behind the scenes. That’s noble and good too. Also, he spoke more about his wishes for his daughter’s accomplishments than her character. However, what Mr. Heathcock did do was to inspire me to write my own prayer and wants for my sons as they both go out into the world. Here’s mine:
What I want and pray for you: A life of purpose, passion, and service. A life of knowing that you are loved deeply and fully by your dad and me. A life of sharing that love with others, especially the lonely, the marginalized, and those that the world deems “unlovable.” Even your enemies. I hope you have a community of loyal friends and family who are your loudest cheerleaders, your sanctuary, your sounding board, and your safe place. A community with whom you can be silly, outrageous, serious, open, protected, vulnerable, whimsical, and thoughtful. I pray for you joy more than happiness and contentment over complacency. I pray that you are a world changer, a justice seeker, a servant leader, an extender of grace, a voice for the voiceless, and a righter of wrongs. I hope you pause and find delight in daily, simple things like the taste of melting butter on fresh bread, the sound of a loon’s call, or the pure beauty of a fresh snowfall. I hope for you a life of learning, of always discovering new books, meeting diverse people, traveling the globe, and being exposed to different thoughts and ideologies so you can consider multiple perspectives and reaffirm truth. I pray that you find your vocation and that it is something that contributes value to the world and passion to your soul. I pray that you know the incredible depth and breadth of God’s love for you. That you are secure in knowing that you are His precious child and He loves you more than any of us can comprehend. I hope you know that nothing can separate you from His love. That even though people, including me, may fail you, He never will. That He doesn’t sleep. That His grace is sufficient. That He is patient and longsuffering. That God is not “safe,” but He is always, always good. I want you to know that you cannot lose my love. That you are my joy, my heartbeat, my legacy, and my delight. I am so very, very proud of you. Always.