advice encouragement

To my Son, on the Eve of Your Adulthood

8:20 PMHeather

It's truly hard to believe and harder still to articulate. Yesterday, I carried you around in my arms and rocked you to sleep and sang lullabies over you, wishing too often that we would hurry on to the next phase.
 
I turned around and where my little boy once stood, I see a man.
I see a young man, so full of potential and so grown, and eager for the future that is becoming more clear to you everyday. 

It feels cruel how I often handled the hard Mommy moments by wishing for the next season. Because the next season is a breath away, and I find myself looking back instead -- at all the moments passed and wishing I had cherished them more.

   
 All images courtesy of Zac and Kaitlin Photography
 
Even the acid reflux. Even the sleepless nights. Even the toddler hardships. But probably not the playground bullies. We could skip that altogether, although I know it was preparing you for the grown-up bullies. Because even adults have to deal with that sort of human nature.

It's unfathomable, as I sit here at my computer, on the eve of your adulthood. As always, your sentimental mom is full of all the feelings. I looked through our scrapbook today. (I know you'd roll your eyes at that one). I looked back and laughed at your full-on, face-plant baby kisses where you were attached to my entire cheek. 

I felt joy at all the memories, all the fun times, all the things we've gotten to do. I feel ridiculously blessed to be your mom and to have this great privilege. I feel proud of the young man you've become. And in some strange combination of nostalgia and melancholy and joy and excitement, it all fits together and bubbles within me.

And on this day, on this particular day, on the eve of your adulthood, I am reduced to tears with a simple truth that I can so easily forget. As our community mourns because a mom laid her son to rest today after a long and courageous battle with cancer, I am in humble awe.

Why? Why would God grant me the privilege and the honor and the favor to see you become a man? When so many mamas can't say the same thing.

I have no answer. I have not earned this right. I have not done a thing to deserve it. To deserve to be a mom. To deserve to be your mom. To deserve to have not only one, but three, healthy children. 

God's grace, you see, is far more than we can wrap our brains around. It's in every moment of the day. It's in every triumph we enjoy. 

And I've learned, as well, in my years on earth, that God's grace is even present in the hardest, most soul-wrenching times of our life. 

It's just so very hard to see with our earthly eyes. It requires a broader perspective. It requires us to consider the challenges we face through the lens of Scripture. Through the truth of a glory to come that is far weightier and far more valuable than any loss or disappointment or suffering in the here and now.

Oh, my dear son, on this eve of your adulthood, I look for the words. I pray to articulate all the things I want to say. And yet, I know, that you are a man of few words. You don't need flowery speeches. You don't require long letters. But, as your Mama, after just about 18 years, I think I've earned the right to wax poetic. So roll your eyes at me if you must and listen, please.

You are a miracle. Every baby is. Every life is a miracle beyond comprehension. Surely, as you take Anatomy and Physiology this year, you see that. The complex systems of the body that work in unison to simply breath life into your lungs and keep blood pumping every day. But, as you've heard the story so many times --  you, my dear, are an EXTRA miracle. For the doctors told me that the pregnancy wasn't viable and a miscarriage was imminent.

The doctors forgot to consult the One who was knitting you in my womb. I remember. I would always do well to remember the places where we have walked. 

You will always do well to remember, too. To always consider how the God of the Universe knew the days of your life, and they were written in his book, before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:14-16). I lettered that on your nursery wall to speak that truth over you from the beginning. 

We best remember God's faithfulness when we are intentional to consider the roads where we have walked. 

When our faith begins to wane and doubts begin to grow, we must look back. 

As the Israelites of old, we look back and remember the captive places. The places of bondage. The places of oppression and hardship. And the places of deliverance. The places of miracles. The seas that have been parted to make a way on dry land. The provision in the wilderness. The manna and the quail. The radiance of glory that shone through Moses' face as he met with God. The hope of the Promised Land. The Jordan Rivers that have dried up so we can cross. And the new lands God has given for us to possess.

Be a man of remembrance. Be a man of recollection. Stop and consider and listen carefully to the songs of generations past and the songs of deliverance in your own life. Remember that the first song of great miracle happened before you were even born.

Be a man who also remembers your name. Obviously, it's a bit hard to forget your own name. But I mean, don't forget the powerful meaning of your name. We chose your name because we liked how it sounded, as you well know. And you, gentle and loving and tender and compassionate, were aptly given a greater name than even we realized. For your name means Victorious Young Warrior. I love that your name was ordained with such strength and significance even though we lacked intention to do so. 

You are just that. You are a Victorious Young Warrior. No matter what people think might be true of you. No matter even what YOU think might be true. You are a Victorious Young Warrior. 

With your identity firmly rooted in Christ, you became one who is an "overwhelming conqueror through him who loved us," (Romans 8:37). Don't forget that. Every time life defeats you, every time your efforts and your emotions tell you otherwise. Nothing changes your name. Nothing changes that name that has been written in the Lamb's Book of Life. It's written in permanent marker, after all, in the blood of Christ. 

Nothing can snatch you from the hand of the Father. And because he loved you enough to send his son to give eternal life, you are an overwhelming conqueror. Death has been defeated. The grave has lost its sting. 

You are a victorious young warrior. As you look back and remember the places where God has showed up, consider also the truth of who you are -- who you've always been and who you always will be. 

Here we are, on the eve of your adulthood, and while my mind swirls with thoughts and my heart swells with emotions, and I struggle to determine which of the thousand things to articulate, I want to keep it simple. As short and sweet as your verbose mom can manage. And so I offer you one last reflection as we look toward your future.

Here you are, months from high school graduation and months from leaving home to attend the same university that held me so well in the stormiest time of my life. The future is bright and your whole life is ahead of you. And I need you to hear me clearly as you look to the paths ahead. I need you to hear from the bottom of my heart the truest thing that I have come to know in my years of adulthood.

 

The truest things in life are found in the Word of God. My dad used to call it the Road Map and the Life Guide. Indeed, indeed. The Word of God is absolutely the truth of God and the truth in life and the truth to light your path in every dark and every foggy and every unclear moment you may face. It is the plumb line to use when determining what to do, what to say, how to act, what to believe, how to proceed. 

The Bible is not just hollow words. It's not just beautiful literature and entertaining history. It is not just idle words. It is indeed, our VERY life (Deuteronomy 32:47). So read it. Read books about it, yes. Read Bible studies and commentaries and interesting books about it. 

But don't neglect to read it. 

It is a love letter from your Heavenly Father. It contains the truth to inform your perspective of who the Father is, who the Son is, who the Holy Spirit is. It contains the truth of your identity through the gospel. It lights your way and answers your questions and calms your soul and encourages your heart, in all the seasons.


It is an endless depth of treasure, with plenty of precious gems to mine every day for the rest of your life. 

It is eternal. It offers far more wisdom than I ever could. Far more love than I could ever express. Far more direction than any GPS. Far more of all that you need in every moment. Use it to gauge all other things. 

Pray and seek the Father. Seek his kingdom. And bring everything back to the Scripture to ensure it lines up. 

You can rest assured, by the way, that I pray these very words for you and over you as I fight for you in all the things in life. I'm no expert and I have far to go. But I am learning the power of praying Scripture over my children and in every situation. It is the Sword, after all. So, I'm learning to carry it better, to raise it well, and to swing it with all my might.

Here we are, on the eve of your adulthood. I could go on and on. But I told you I wouldn't. And so I bring this to a close. 

You, my darling first born, are a joy and a delight. You've brought such happiness to your dad and me since before we ever met you. You make us proud by how hard you've worked and how far you've come. By how you've managed the hard moments and rebounded from the most difficult ones. You are amazing. You are a man of character and faith and compassion and strength. You are full of potential. 

I've told you thousands of times as you left the house to be a blessing, and that's exactly who you are. 

You've been my patient guinea pig as a first time mom. You've been a great example to your younger siblings. You've been a loyal friend to those in your life. You've been a team player on the soccer field. You've been a leader by example, quiet and unassuming, not desiring the spotlight, but fully ready to do what is asked of you.


You've been a joy. I am so proud of who you are. I am so happy to call you my son. I am so thankful for every bit of you and every day thus far. 

And I am so excited to keep cheering you on! I am just NEARLY speechless at the great things ahead of you. I want to yell from the roof tops of how proud I am and how awesome you are.

You've got this, son. You've got this adulthood thing. I am confident that you will spread your wings and soar in the next chapter. And on the days when you stumble, I will always try to catch you. I will always have your back. I will always be president and founder of your fan club. I will always fight for you in prayer and hug your neck at every opportunity and nag you to death and drive you crazy.

You are mine. You will always be mine. Your dad and I just love and adore you. We love you to the moon and back.

And your Heavenly Father loves you even more. Your Savior, in fact, loved you to death.

The world is ahead of you and the One who made it also carries you through it.

So get to it. Go after it. Chase God with all you've got and know that he is faithful and true and mighty to save and he delights in you even more than we do.

Kinda crazy and hard to believe. But it's true. 

Happy 18th birthday, my boy. Or should I say -- man.

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