My dear sweet boy,
You are such a blessing to my life and I love watching you grow! You are just now beginning to show your amazing personality and I am so proud of the young man I see you becoming. You are more perfect than I could have ever dreamed when I found out we were having a little boy. Before I started having babies, I knew I would have a son; I even had your name picked out!
Sweetheart, I wish I could change some of the harsh realities that have already happened in your young life. I wish we lived in a world where tragedy didn’t strike innocent children. But I can’t change the past and I can’t protect you from all the bad things as much as I want to. The best I can do, son, is teach you and guide you to the best of my ability. As you grow, there are a few fundamental things I want you to cling to. Use them as your guidebook, especially when life gets tough.
Spread kindness like wildfire.
Your dad was the epitome of kindness. Everywhere he went, and to everyone he met, he spread kindness and laughter. Son, you have your Daddy’s same kind heart and compassionate nature. Hold on to that, even when life gets hard. Your Daddy was so widely loved and admired because he loved and admired everyone around him. Everyone deserves kindness, baby. Don’t be afraid to show it.
Be brave and courageous.
There will be times in your life where you’d rather hide or run or bury your head in the sand than face whatever challenge is in your way. I know because I’ve been there many times. In those times, I want you to remember to be brave and show courage. But bravery and courage don’t have to come from you; in fact, it often doesn’t because we, as humans, struggle with the strong grip of fear. Often it overwhelms us. When that happens, always call on God to give you courage and be brave. He will give you the strength you need to get through the battle you’re facing.
I have already begun to teach you how to respect your elders. Even as a tiny young thing, I am so proud of how polite you are. Keep that up, son. Everyone deserves respect and I expect you to show it. I expect you to respect your teachers and your friends. I expect you to respect law enforcement and those in authority over you. I especially expect you to respect girls, and later, women. When you show respect to others, even when they’re being jerks to you, you will always come out on top.
Remember how blessed you are.
Life is full of hills and valleys, some valleys being worse than others. You have already experienced a deep valley in your young life. Unfortunately, none of us are immune to tragedy. It is easy to count our blessings when we are riding high on top of those hills. The true measure of a person, I believe, is when you can still see the blessings you have in the midst of those valleys. Always remember, no matter what you’re going through in life, be it a big or small challenge, that you are incredibly blessed. When you are facing a challenge, focus on your blessings and hang on to them tight.
Love like your father loved me.
Your Daddy loved me more deeply than I ever thought was possible. He always put me and my needs before his own and he was more concerned with my happiness than his. Son, your dad, loved me with a sacrificial kind of love that all men are called to, but few accomplish. I want you to love your future wife like your Daddy loved me. Love her with everything you have, love her with all your heart, be faithful to her and show her (don’t just tell her) you love her EVERY DAY. One of the very last things your Daddy told me was that he loved me more than his own life. And I know he did. I will treasure that love for the rest of my life.
Put your family first.
I know it’s going to be hard to keep this in mind when working hard to provide for your family or to rise up that corporate ladder, but please remember to put your family first. Always. In all ways. Your family should be at the heart of every decision you make, and if that means turning down a promotion because it would take you away from your kids, so be it. That’s not to say that you should stifle your dreams or cut down your goals; it just means that you need to make sure that whatever decisions you make in your career are truly what’s best for your family. Because in the end, they are all you have.
It is always the right choice to do the right thing.
Son, you will be faced with the temptation to do lots of things because all the other boys are doing it. It may be the temptation to smoke or make fun of the new kid, treat a girl like an object, or cheat on a test. None of these things are worth it in the end. Not only will you disappoint me by choosing the wrong thing, but you will also ultimately disappoint yourself, and that is a far worse feeling.
Doing the right thing is often going to take a great deal of courage and bravery. It will likely make you feel like a bit of an outcast at times. It may even make you the target of nasty comments. I will always be here to help you with making the right choice, and I will be here to help you get through whatever may come from your choice. And I know that you will probably make mistakes here and there, but I want you to remember that a mistake is just a vehicle for learning an important lesson. And I will be here to help you through that, too.
Always put God at the center.
Just like you should always put your family first, so too should you always put God at the center of everything. Your job, your hobbies, your family decisions . . . make sure God is at the center of it all. Even and especially during the tough times. When you make Him the center, you will be blessed, son. I promise you this.
My baby, you are far too young for any of this to mean anything to you right now. But I promise that one day you will need these bits and pieces of advice. Tuck them away in your heart and draw them out when you need them. You are a wonderful blessing to me, to your Daddy, and the world. You are meant for great things, son. I can’t wait to see how you make your mark!