Thursday, September 04, 2003

Father to Son

“….a wise son makes a father glad.”
~ Proverbs 10:1

(The following is a letter my husband recently wrote to our 19-year-old son, Keen II)

July 23, 2003

Dear Keen,

Lately, there have been several things on my heart that I wanted to share with you. The first is that I am so proud of you. Many times parents don’t tell their kids that often enough. I see the man you have become and I truly marvel. During the reception dance at Josh’s wedding I was struck by how you acted, interacted and reacted to the many different situations you encountered. For example, the speech you gave while toasting the bride and groom was so moving and sincere. Your words flowed with such ease and elegance that I was amazed. Where, I wondered, did you learn to speak with such passion and professionalism? Your words were so polished and precise. As a father, it made me extremely proud that my son could stand up in front of all those people and speak from the heart about his love for his brother. It was as though you had given wedding party toasts all your life. It was my most rewarding moment. I am so proud of you.

Next, from the very first dance, I observed you living your life in the comfort of your element. It was easy to see that you are a leader of men. You are not constrained by what others think or burdened by another’s code or convictions. I witnessed the person you have become; an honorable, self-assured and principled individual. You have truly become your own man. Your mannerisms and ability to relate to the very young as well as the very old is evidence that you possess the wisdom that “people matter.” During and after the reception, I was complimented numerous times on what a great person you are. I am so proud of you.

Finally, I want to share something else that has been on my heart for the last few days. It seems that parents never tell their kids the exact point in time when they officially become the captains of their own ship; architects of their own destiny. For the most part, it’s probably because parents don’t relish the thought of relinquishing control of their children’s life or the right to meddle in their decisions. But after observing you at the wedding and reception, I see that your mother and I have nothing to worry about. We have raised you with the wisdom to seek the guidance of God and to follow your heart even when, to the world, it makes no practical sense. In Micah 6:8 God makes it crystal clear how we are to live our lives: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” I can see in you, Keen, that this is how you live your life. I am so proud of you.

I want to mark this day as the day that your mother and I no longer regard you as a child but as a man; independent and autonomous in all respects. We have confidence that you are being led and protected by the grace of God and believe that you will go into the world and fulfill God’s perfect plan for your life. When we think of you, the words, “splendidly fearless” come to our hearts. We know that you will do extremely well in whatever you put your hand to. We are so proud of you.

In Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”, he challenges the readers to figure out the worst possible thing that could happen in any new pursuit. Once you identify the “worst case scenario” and realize that it’s survivable, then you can forge ahead with confidence. I have a plaque that reads: “You can’t steal second base with your foot on first.” Life is about taking risks. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t. Ahhh, but to have the courage to try is to be “splendidly fearless.” Remember the feeling of stealing second base or the thrill of the fast break in basketball? For those few seconds, life is so real, so captivating, so on the edge of great success or failure. My hope is for you to be able to live your life with this kind of tantalizing enthusiasm.

No matter what decisions you make in your life and how things ultimately turn out, please know that your mother and I will always be ready and willing to rally the troops, circle the wagons and send in the choppers for evacuation if you just give us the word. Over the years, our parents have always been there to support us in good times and bad, through our successes and failures. It’s what families do.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who strives valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

In closing, please know that your mother and I will always be here for you. We are just moving to the back seat because God is your co-pilot now. Go forth and conquer the world. We are so proud of you.



Keen II giving the toast at Josh & Lisa's wedding