Dear Holden and Brooks,
As I write this letter, I am lying in bed sick—physically sick with pneumonia and emotionally sick in my heart and mind. It’s difficult to process what has gone on in the world these past few months…natural disasters, mass shootings, rampant racism, stories of sexual assault from the highest levels of power…and a president who lacks the integrity and leadership skills that it takes to navigate the scary world we live in. In my own personal circle, just this week, a friend was raped in a parking garage and another friend lost a child to miscarriage.
Outside my germ-filled room, I can hear you laughing and playing with your dad; and I take comfort in knowing that you have no idea just how bad things are right now. Just how terrible the world we live in really is. At this young age, it is your dad’s and my duty to protect you from these things, and I think we are doing a good job of that.
But there will come a day when we cannot protect you…from the world and the disasters that happen around the globe…or, on a smaller scale, from the challenges you will face in your own life: difficult relationships, peer pressure, unspeakable things on the internet or any number of other evils that will crop up between now and your adolescence and young adulthood.
So, on this day, when I have some time to reflect, I’m writing you this letter. You might read it one day. You might not. But my prayer is that you see these words enacted in my daily interactions with you and that you grow each day in your understanding of what I’m about to say. Your time living under my roof is limited, but I promise to spend as much of that time as I can teaching you these three lessons and, hopefully, so many more:
First, I promise to teach you to value women and see beauty in their heart and their minds, not just their bodies. Women are more than just a “swipe right” on a Friday night. We are more than an image on a computer screen. We are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27). Woman are beautiful, but we are not defined by beauty.
To that end, I’m praying for both of you and for your future wives. That you will shun the rampant “hook up” culture that currently exists. That you will protect your hearts, minds and eyes from the sexually charged images the media is constantly throwing at you. And that you will see and interact with your female friends, your girlfriends and your future wives for who they are: daughters of the King.
Second, I promise to teach you that life is not always fair. Senseless acts of violence happen for no reason. Natural disasters wreak havoc on cities and communities and lives without warning. People are not always fair and not always kind.
While I will do my best to surround you with individuals that love and respect you that will not always be under my control. Once you enter school and the “real world” you will face bullies. You will meet mean spirited peers and colleagues who are only looking out for themselves. You will be talked down to, criticized and wronged.
But know this: We serve a God of justice. It is not your responsibility to retaliate when people are unkind or even cruel. I know you will want to—and sometimes you might actually do it. That’s ok. It’s human nature. Ultimately, though, humility wins--maybe not in this life, but definitely in the one to come. Humility trusts that a just God is in control in the midst of injustice. Humility overcame the world. (1 Peter 2:23)
Finally, I promise to teach you WHOSE you are and where you are going. You belong to your father and I for a short time on this earth, but you will always belong to the God of the universe. A God who formed you to be uniquely YOU (Ps 139:13-14). A God who loves you unconditionally (Eph 3:15-19; Titus 3:4-5; 1 John 4:16). A God who is THERE and who is REAL—even if we can’t see Him.
That same God has prepared a place for YOU in Heaven (John 14:1-4). A place that can’t be removed because of what you might do here on this earth or what someone else might do to you. A place where there are no deaths, natural disasters, shootings, racists, sexual predators. A place where the person in charge is the image of perfection.
Oh, boys. Over the course of your life, we will share highs and lows. We will learn lessons and we will make mistakes. We will experience the struggle that is being human, but we will also experience life. And when it looks like the world around you is crumbling…and it may very literally crumble one day…I pray you turn your eyes, your hearts, your minds and your faith upward.
You are free to mourn the brokenness of this world—and there is much to mourn—but then you must remind yourself of who God is, what He has done and what He will do. And you must also remind yourself that even in the brokenness there is still good in the world and there are still good people. You must always have hope.
To coin a phrase your dad and grandparents often say: I love you both more than tongue can tell—or, in this case, any letter can express.