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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