I love the idea of writing letters to my kids. I know that they can’t read yet, but I’m able to express my thoughts, prayers, and desires for them now in a way that, when they are older, they can look back on and understand. I hope that they will grasp that, as they’ve grown, I’ve been praying for them and wanting the absolute best for them.
When Jackson was a newborn baby, I wrote him a pretty long letter while sitting in his nursery. I posted that here a few years ago, on his 1st birthday. A few months ago, I wrote Jackson another letter. It was part of an exercise that I was challenged to do – to write a letter to someone I love, communicating my hopes and desires for them, if I wasn’t here in person to do it. I wrote a letter that day to Jackson. A couple days later, I wrote another letter to my daughter, Mila. Jackson’s letter is below, and I’ll share Mila’s letter in part two of “Letters to my kids.”
Before I share the letter though, I want to explain that what you’ll read below is personal. It’s written to my son, and written from the perspective that I have as his dad, right now in this season. I know that I will learn and discover a lot as he grows and as I mature as a parent, but I also know that my desires for him are rooted in God’s desires for him, and so my prayers for him are centered around these truths. Also, I want you to know that my sharing of this is for two reasons – 1st, I know he doesn’t read this site, but someday he might. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if I’ll be here to share this with him. I don’t know if, when he’s old enough, I’ll have the ability or opportunity to share this with him. Placing this letter here is one possible way for it to be accessible years later, regardless of those future circumstances. 2nd, this exercise was incredibly powerful for me. It caused me to deepen my prayer time for my children, and caused me to examine who I am as a dad – the desires for my kids, the goals I have in mind, and the steps that I want to take to lead them there. Though this letter is for Jackson, I hope it’s contents might cause you to consider what your letter would be like to the person you’d want to write it to.
Here’s the letter:
My son, at three years old you’re a bit too young to understand all of what I am writing to you. However, the things that I want you to know and remember from this letter don’t expire, and so I hope that as you grow and do have an ability to take in these words, that they will be received as I intend them to be – filled with love, with hope, and with anticipation of the incredible man that God is going to shape you into.
Son, there is so much that I want to share with you and encourage you in as you grow and mature, and by God’s grace I hope to be able to walk with you through each stage of that early process. Above all, and regardless of circumstance, I want you to know that I love you as much as any human can love another. I am already proud of the little boy that you are and am filled with excitement for the man that you will be. You are one of my greatest blessings. But I also want you to know that, as much as I love you, God loves you infinitely more. Though I was there the second you were born, God knew you before I did, because He formed you and was the initiator of your very life. I pray every day that as you grow, you will choose to follow Him and learn, as I have, that He is faithful, trustworthy, and good. If you focus your life on Jesus and let everything fall into place behind Him, you will discover a life worth living and one that counts for something.
I hope to have the chance to share many experiences with you, including many great conversations about life, and I pray that those conversations will be words that are backed up by action. Among many, these are some areas where I hope to influence you:
As I’ve already said above, God loves you. I pray that you will grow to trust and follow Him, and that my example as a follower of Jesus Christ will encourage you to do the same.
Be a man of strong character. Determine to have integrity in all you do and be trustworthy in all your interactions. Value this above any possession or opportunity to get ahead.
Be a man that is willing to put in the effort. Don’t allow the minimum to become your standard, but strive to excel not only because of reward but because it is what is needed. In this, you will be able to be counted on and trusted in whatever you put your hand to.
Be a man who truly loves and understands what love looks like. Never stop loving your mom or your sister. Treat women with respect, and honor God in all of your interactions with them. Don’t given in to temptation or allow the world to define how you look at or treat them. Your mom and I began our love relationship as friends, and that friendship is the foundation on which the rest is built. Your opportunity for love will come, so don’t rush it.
God has made you, and God will continue to shape and mold you. Be open to that process, and don’t succumb to the pressure of being molded by your peers or society in general. Never pretend to be someone you’re not. You have no reason to, because God made you to be unique and incredible. Embrace that identity and live a life of authenticity.
Jackson, I pray that I will have decades of life ahead in order to teach you these and many other things. But whether God has given me decades or weeks to walk beside you, He will always walk beside you. Trust Him and follow Him with all your heart.
Who would you write your letter to? What would it say?