To my son on your last night at home….

Clayton and MomTomorrow you will be leaving my nest forever. We’ve had a trial run. You came back. But this time is for good. You are building your own nest for you and your bride. In twenty-four days, you will pledge your life and love to Anna forever, and a new family legacy will begin.

We told you tonight, in the middle of another one of our long talks, that it is hard to send you off with so little. We wish that we could bless you monetarily in ways that we cannot.  But as we send you off with the stockpile of hand-me-down furniture and dishes we’ve been saving for you, there are several things on my mind.

It is true that you were our guinea pig. You have the privilege of being our first born. We have tested all of our parenting practices on you. Sometimes we failed. You will leave here not knowing everything you need to know. We know that there are so many things that we probably haven’t taught you. Some things we just haven’t thought about teaching. Some we didn’t know how. Some things you weren’t interested in learning, and we didn’t force it.

But there are a few things we hope you leave home having unshakeable confidence in: 

  1. You are loved. We couldn’t wait to have a baby. We anticipated your arrival with so much joy. You got the majority of our mistakes, but you also got the best of our youth. You had us all to ourselves, and we loved being with you. Our lives revolved around you. You still bring us that same joy. We love watching your successes, and we hurt with your failures. Watching you pack your boxes, I feel a piece of my heart tearing away. You are loved.
  2. You have learned to take responsibility for your actions. I know it has been hard for you to watch your friends get cars and smart phones and cash from their parents while we made you work for yours. You haven’t had it easy by American standards. But we know that it has built you. You are getting married young, but in so many ways you are older than many your age. You know what your car insurance costs. You know how much it costs to repair a transmission. You know how to budget for your bills. You understand what a day off work will cost you. You know the stiff consequences to taking the easy way out of things.
  3. You know that marriage is hard, but worth it. We pray that we’ve modeled marriage well. We haven’t been perfect by any means, but we hope that you’ve seen that the bad never means giving up. You watched us fight, and you’ve watched us resolve it. You’ve watched us hurt and rejoice. We pray that our marriage gives you hope that even when people aren’t perfect, that God can redeem anything and use it for His glory.
  4. You have learned to seek wise counsel. I have never been so proud of you as I have this year as you have found your own church. You sought out sound, Biblical teaching. You have built a relationship with your pastor, gotten up earlier than I would ever do for weekly small group, and devoted yourself to your pre-marital counseling sessions. The relationship you and Anna are forming with your pastor and his wife is priceless. You’ve learned that decisions made with your own knowledge can sometimes lead to really hard outcomes, and you’ve changed your methods. We’re so proud.
  5. You are braver than you think. You’ve come a long way, baby! You jump off rocks. You hang off cliffs. You ask big companies to comp you with thousands of dollars-worth of merchandise. You speak truth to your friends. You challenge false doctrine. Sometimes I can hardly remember the boy that didn’t want to ask for ranch packets at the fast food counter. Your bravery will serve you well as you lead and protect your family. God has prepared you to be a leader.
  6. You know who you are, and have learned self-management. You know your strengths. You also know your weaknesses, and you’ve found ways to overcome many of them. You know what kind of jobs and schooling won’t work for you, and you know what will. You know many of the core things you want out of life, and what things will distract from your goals.
  7. You understand that trials build character. I loved the way you encouraged us tonight as your parents. You understand that we wouldn’t be who we are if we hadn’t have walked the hard roads we’ve walked. You understand that the easy way isn’t always the best way. You’ve watched your friends choose easy, and you’ve chosen hard over and over again. It shows in your character. You have let God build you, and He’s done a great job.
  8. You know Jesus. You don’t just know about Him, but you know Him. You believe Him. You take Him at His Word. You want to honor Him. You want your lives to bring Him glory.

So as you leave, we know that we are fallen people who could have done better by you. We could’ve given you more. We could have apologized more. We could have prayed harder. We could have made better parenting decisions many times. But we pray that you see Jesus in our lives (even through the brokenness), and that you will go in confidence knowing that He goes with you. We love you more than life itself and are proud to watch you fly.

I am praying Philippians 3 for you leave. May you count everything as garbage compared to Jesus. He is worth everything.

Fly, baby, fly!

“7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead”  (Philippians 3 ESV).

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One thought on “To my son on your last night at home….

  1. I am bawling. I breathed a bit of my experience with your words. Thanks for sharing this and for being such dedicated parents.