Posts Tagged ‘Graduation 2014’

A Father’s Letter to His Daughter upon Her Graduation

In Inspiration on June 22, 2013 at 9:30 AM

To My Sweet Katie,

Though the feeling has swept over me many times already, it has not yet come to stay. That is, the realization that my little girl will soon be leaving me to go and pursue her dreams. Since I am convinced that your dreams have been birthed in you by God, I can only help you pursue them. Many times in the last year I earnestly cried out to God that He would make a way for you to pursue your dreams, which was tantamount to asking Him to make a way for you to leave me. So, I won’t ask you to stay here with me, though I wish you could!

So many times, as you were growing up, I took the time to stop and remind myself that the day would come when I would find myself missing you— the little girl who would sing around the house or make some of the worst noises anyone has ever heard; the teenager who delighted in picking at me just to get a reaction; the girl who at times would be so desperately hungry but completely unable to describe what she was hungry for; the one who, when she was little, imagined a back yard carnival that we simply could not live up to; the one who has been such a friend to me! And now that time has come. Oh, I know you will be back for summers and holidays and special occasions, but a visit home will never be enough for me! But once you have gone out into the wide world I know you will never be content just to watch television with me on a Friday night. But, once you have really experienced the wide world, it will probably be just the medicine you need. I will be right here waiting for you!

Earlier this year, when we were all walking through what seemed to be the loss of your dream to go to college in the way you had planned, I found myself in your room thinking about all those people who, if they only knew you like I did, would clamor to give you all the scholarships you needed. While there, I saw the handwritten notes stuck to the wall arrayed around the mirror in your bedroom; notes you had written to encourage yourself in the Lord, expressing your desires for Him and for His call on your life, and of Scriptures that had become most important to you. That’s when I realized, even more than I had, that your love of God was real and that your commitment to His purpose in your life was sincere and that you deserved to have your dreams come true. The notes weren’t hung there for show. They were just the outflow of your joy and anticipation; the reflection of high hopes and dreams. Just notes written by someone who had caught a glimpse of what is possible in this world and who was not waiting on others to motivate her to reach for those dreams! In that moment I admired you all over again and wanted so much to make all of your dreams come true. I wanted to step in and show people, “See, this is my daughter! She is genuine and deserves a chance to take her place alongside others of her generation as she offers her life and times to God!” Then, God answered our prayers and made a way where there didn’t seem to be one! A way for you to follow Him even more intentionally! A way for you to—leave me! Bittersweet.

My dear Katie, I appreciate your integrity and your passion. I am convinced that you really do love Jesus. And I have confidence in you. And though it may add pressure to you in some way, I admit that I expect great things from you! Not great as defined by a fallen world drunk on its own materialism, but great in terms of other, deeper things. I expect you to live truthfully. I expect you to face your imperfections head-on and allow the grace of God to guide you through the changes that invariably need to be made in all of us. I expect you to be real in your relationships. I expect you to live in the light of eternity. I expect you to call home. A lot!

I do have some regrets. Sometimes I have worried that I did not show you enough affection. Maybe I should have held your hands more. Maybe I should have put my arms around you more. If nothing else, these regrets are a reflection that whatever affection I did show, it was only a small part of what I have always profoundly felt for you! I hope you are at least sure of that.

I am not really ready for this. Not yet. It is encouraging to remember that you are not going to the moon, just college. But I know how things work and I know that Robert Frost was right in The Road Not Taken when he said, “Way leads on to way.” But always remember: the path that leads you away from home can be travelled home again. And even though very soon you will be spending most of your time away from me, it will be the rare hour that passes and does not witness my thoughts and prayers for you.

It’s just that you have been with me practically every moment for all these years! And now, once you take this step, that stage in both of our lives, in the life of our family, will be over and it will never be just like it has been ever again! I know it is a normal, healthy step that must eventually be taken by all of us. I took it. But I can’t let it happen without paying respect to the blessing God has given me in my children—in you!

With all my love,

Your Father

A Father’s Letter To His Graduating Son

In BCW, Inspiration on March 21, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Dear Son:

Where to begin? All the years come suddenly to this moment and I am proud, I am thankful, I am emotional, I am nostalgic. And there is in me the dawning realization that every step you take from this day forward will be pregnant with the possibility that your path could take you further away from me than I am comfortable with.

For the better part of two decades, I have engrossed myself in your life. Much of my effort has been simply to keep you alive and healthy. I have sung songs, and played games, and answered questions, but more than that, I have loved you at depths that even now you are not able to understand and won’t be until you have a child of your own. Though at times I have tried to express and explain that love to you, I realize that, for now, between us, I’ll have to be content with knowing its depths on my own. Part of a parent’s lot I suppose.

Early on I saw that, from time to time, you went through changes as you grew and matured, and I realized that, if I were to continue to be close to you, I would have to adjust to the changes. As your interests changed, I adjusted mine so that I could continue to relate to you.

Starting out, I had clear goals. I always hoped that by the time you reached adulthood you would still love me as you did when you were just a little one. While that has been my hope, and still is, I have many times had to choose fatherhood over friendship in order to pursue another goal I had which was to give you direction and leadership. Sometimes choosing that road was hard and it left me feeling lonely, but my commitment was firm. And, if given the opportunity to do it all again, I would do it without hesitation.

The teenage years have been particularly unique in their challenges. Life goes along undisturbed, communication with your child is clear and good, and then it happens: adolescence! It’s a lot like losing radio contact. There is communication, then static, then the connection seems lost. But pretty soon, connection gets established again as long you try, which we both did.

For a long time now, you have demonstrated a growing desire to be independent. At first, I took that personally. Then I realized, with help, that your need for independence is the normal response of a child who has been nurtured, taught, respected, and appreciated. In the end, I have to admit that what I want is for you to be able to go out on your own and be OK.

There were countless lessons I tried to teach you that I hope have stayed with you. They were all important, but some of them rise to the top and are worth repeating in this letter. Like the fact that it is mathematically impossible for anyone to be right all the time and that sometimes, you have to say you’re sorry; that if you are going to stay close to those you love, you have to work at it; and that you should live everyday as though it were your last. I taught you that while we trust in God for the future, we have no promise of tomorrow, so you have to live today as though there were no tomorrow. Take time to look around and appreciate the blessings in your life today, especially the people. I taught you that these are the good old days! They certainly have been for me.

I also taught you about Jesus. That He is the only way to heaven, that He is coming back soon, and that He loves you and cares about you. That He expects us to live right and that He has given us the power to do so, not in order to earn salvation (which we cannot do) but in order to live up to what He has done for us (which, admittedly, we can’t do either but we should try). I taught you to call on Him, and that, no matter the situation, prayer will work. That advice will serve you well forever!

I tried my best to instill in you a confidence that there is nothing you can’t do if you try. I have believed in you your whole life and I believe in you now! I taught you that you can do anything through Christ and that nothing is too hard for the Lord, but that most of all it was important to find out what He wants you to do!

You should know that I still feel the sting of failures I made while you were growing up: Misspoken words, times when I was too busy or impatient. Times when I was slow to understand what you needed or just misunderstood things altogether. Thank you for loving me anyway. Just as I learned from my father’s mistakes, you have learned from mine and your children will learn from yours. That’s how it works.

It is my indescribable pleasure to be your father. But, for now, I am beginning to let you go. Not entirely; never entirely. As long as I am alive I will do everything I can to be here for you and be a blessing to you, just as I always have. My door will always be open to you. Wherever I am, you will always be welcome. And as long as I am on this earth I will be here for you. And if you ever look up and I am gone, just know that I am with Him. So, walk in faith and we will be together again. But for now I am here and for now it is time for you to spread your wings and begin to fly. No too far at first, but over time farther and farther, ever so certainly, until you find your place in this world.

With more love than I know how to express,

Your Father