An open letter to my oldest on his 15th birthday:
You turn 15 today in the near middle of this wild and crazy year, and there’s this thing I have been meaning to tell you about who you are.
I have let fear keep me from saying it because, well, you’re only 15—God willing, you have a big, full life ahead of you. One with many choices and decisions to be made and opportunities for both failure and victory.
Still, I know it to be true in the deepest part of my heart.
You’re one of the good guys.
I know this because you are my son.
I know this because you love and fear God.
I know this because you have kept a soft heart in times that would make any heart hardened and bitter.
I know this because you have been on the receiving end of hate, and you have refused to hate in return.
I know this because you look around this world and still see there is good. And you are part of that good.
The kid who has a quiet, underestimated strength.
The kid who does the good, kind things and doesn’t need the world to know.
The kid who isn’t motivated by anger, but integrity and truth.
The kid who has made mistakes and owned them.
We have watched you fail—and we have watched you get back up and fly.
You have learned to embrace your whole self, faults and all.
You have made choices, that were harder now, for the long game.
You see others pain, and you don’t look away.
No, you don’t jump at the chance to clean your room.
You aren’t always the first to volunteer your efforts.
You fight with your brothers and your brothers fight with you.
You’re not perfect. Thank God. Perfect is an illusion anyway.
But it hit me last week as you stood in the driveway with a family member you love dearly.
It had been too long since you saw one another face-to-face, and you were honoring one another with your distance.
You looked down and then up at her and said, “I wish I could hug you.”
And at that moment, I saw you as both toddler and teenager.
The boy who always led with his heart and let it be exposed.
And you moved toward her.
You are one of the good guys, son. And I have learned so much from you.
You have taught me there are beautiful things at the bottom of 1,000 steps in Laguna Beach.
You have pushed me to continue to pursue my dreams, even at my age.
You wouldn’t step foot into Disneyland without your brothers to experience it with you on your 13th birthday trip.
And the music from Pixar movies still makes you happy because you know true joy.
You’ll embarrass us, and we’ll embarrass you.
You’ll make bad choices, and we will question our parenting.
You’ll continue to challenge us to have our actions match our words as we have challenged you.
You’ll come to form your own opinions, and they won’t always agree with ours.
And this is both the hardest and most beautiful part of seeing you grow up.
Knowing as you follow your heart and gut, your God-given path will branch out from ours in a new direction.
But you’ll keep your roots planted in the goodness of your Creator.
Roots that will always be entwined with ours.
Roots that will always be home.
Roots that will outlast your dad and me.
May you believe in your goodness my son, because God is with you and in you.
You are one of the good guys because you are His.
I pray you carry this truth of you who are on your birthday and every day given by His grace.
All the amens. All the love,
Previously published on the author’s blog