The thing that is essential to patient waiting is this: The God of all things waits with you. This is an amazing opportunity to heap your emotions and troubles and cares and hopes- everything- on Him. Don’t worry about being worried; all emotions are human and there are none that are not “right” or “O.K.” Give yourself permission to feel the excitement and the unease of waiting. Then, thank God for allowing you the chance to feel these things, to learn from them and to trust in his divine grace. Continue reading “Faithful Waiting”
I pray that in some way you girls will manage to hang onto your humanity. Mary Ellen, your sweet sensitivity and passionate concern will be a great comfort to someone in the future. Alexandria, your sense of justice and passion for fairness can be a great force for good in the world. You girls will be the light of creation, daughters of God, and more in love with the world than I can ever imagine. I believe that, and wish that for you. Continue reading “Lepers and Compassion”
Every relationship is based on trust. In fact, relationships cannot exist in any form without trust; trust is the base alloy from which all affections are forged. Our faith in God is based on the trust that he, in fact, exists and cares. God has faith in us; faith in us as instruments of his grace and in his unending forgiveness he trusts us to heed his call to return to the light of his love. The relationship between a husband and wife cannot survive unless it is founded on a mutual sense of trust. Even between friends, trust is the hill on which relationships die or triumph. Continue reading “Fatherly Frustrations and the Importance of Honesty”
One day, I want you to experience how incredible and amazing new love can be. Oh, I remember it well! I want you to know what it is like to be so invested in a person that your heart skips a beat as soon as they enter the room. I want you to know what it is like to live and die simply by the gentleness of that one special person’s touch. There is a time in your life where the discovery of new love happens, and it is fleeting and short. I have known that feeling with one woman in my life. You should have seen your mother then. I thought for sure she was some sort of angel. Of course now, I am quite sure that she is! Continue reading “Magnolias, New Love and an Angel”
I have been thinking much about the future as of late, and what nuggets of knowledge that I would want to pass along to each of you. There is a time in our lives when we are ready to receive that knowledge from our parents, but when that time arrives we are often too busy and self-absorbed to take that knowledge as the gift that it really is. I don’t mean this to say that is a bad thing, really. It is just that our late teens and early twenties is a time when we are changing and rediscovering ourselves each and every day. There is only so much information a person can digest; so, I have decided to write some things down in a letter to you.
As I begin this letter, we are a long way from either one of you being of the age when I intend for you to read it. It is a beautiful late August morning at our home in North Carolina. Alex, you are 11 and Mary Ellen is eight. Alex, you left for school with your mom before I woke up this morning; in the quiet of the morning I am suddenly very sorry that I didn’t see you go. I did hear your mother hounding you to brush your teeth; I am guessing that you weren’t up for much in the way of conversation. You spend a lot of time in the bathroom looking in the mirror these days; I don’t believe that you think you are pretty, but I know better. You are beautiful and smart and terribly observant. You don’t miss a thing and you question everything. While sometimes this drives me to annoyance, this trait will serve you well in adult life. Keep questioning, don’t ever give that up.
Mary Ellen, I dropped you off at school about an hour and a half ago. This morning, you sat at the kitchen table finishing the math homework that probably should have been done last night. I had gone out rock climbing with a friend, which was unusual for me, as I don’t do much socially these days. Your mom, who works much harder than she should need to, was simply too tired to push you to finish your homework. Anyway, there you sat this morning, working out your subtraction problems in your new pink glasses, with a look of pure consternation on your face. With a mighty heaving of breath, you would look at me, slam your pencil down and proclaim that you just didn’t get it. It was hard not to laugh. You have an amazingly expressive face, and you know how to use it. I think you don’t believe that you are very smart. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I hope that by the time you are reading this you understand that.
So, this is how this letter begins. At the moment, I resolve to give it to you when you graduate high school, should God’s will allow me the length of life to see that occur. I think I will leave instructions for your mom, just on the off chance that I am not there for you on that day. In life, you never really know what is coming next. I guess that is lesson number one: There is much uncertainty in life. I wish I could say that I embrace and accept that, but right now I really do not. I have spent all 39 of my years fighting against uncertainty with worry and anxiety. I am more at peace than I used to be, but I still struggle a lot. Worry is one of the greatest of my many flaws, and it has caused your mother much grief. I hope and pray you do not follow in my footsteps in this regard. Let me say this: There is not a single reality of life that you can really change: You will be rich, poor, happy, sad, overjoyed and filled with grief, each in their turn. Embrace each feeling and moment, even the bad ones. In each moment God gives us a lesson, a little beam of His grace that illuminates that one good and essential thing. Hang on to that knowledge when you get it; it will allow you to be the conduit through which he conveys His grace to someone else someday. That is the only real purpose of why we are here, after all. Always look for the ways that God is using you in every situation and you will feel rich beyond comprehension. It took me half of my life to even consider that possibility, and I pray that I have advanced even further by the time you read this.
So, I shall give you these words on the day you graduate from high school. That I have been blogging it all along will be a great joke, but this represents a good way to keep these words and perhaps benefit from the input of others. Of course, Alex will get this letter first; doubtless she will share some of this with you, Mary Ellen. I will pretend to be upset that Alex has spoiled the surprise, but secretly I will be glad because you two will be sharing as sisters should. Anyway, I have no doubt that each of you is strong and wise and beautiful in your own unique way. You may hate me or love me or feel ambivalent about me. However you feel, know that whatever kind of father I have turned out to be I have honestly tried my best. There is no guidebook for fatherhood. At the end of it all, I’m just a flawed man who really loves his daughters. Each of you is the light of my life. If you take nothing else from these words, please keep that one thought in your heart. There is nothing more special in this universe that my Alexandria and Mary Ellen.