Today I received this letter hand written by 20 year old son who just graduated from University. Yes, I am very proud, but as a parent I know that I have many short comings. But this letter shows me grace. God's grace. He has taken my shortcomings and turn them into what my son is now, a young man full of grace, kindness towards others and love for God. Yes, he has many of my strengths. He also has many of my weaknesses but God will also use them to shape him and make him the man He wants him to be. But I am still amazed as to how a tiny little being that I held and laid on my chest (he tried today and said, "I don't fit like Leah..." And I said, "You forgot you grew up.") is now a man. I marvel at this!
In the end, what really matters is the legacy we passed on to them. Mom's letter is forthcoming.
I have been meaning to write this letter to you for a while but it seemed it always to pass me by. I wanted to thank you for all that you have taught me and provided me with, and recognize how you have shaped the man that I am today since it is so easy for me to be critical. Often things go unsaid between us and on the occasion of my graduation, I wanted to honor you and revere you as my Father, as God has commanded me to (Deut. 5:16). Most Dads teach their sons to play catch or to throw a football. You didn’t teach me either. But I don’t think I missed out on anything because what I have gained from you is far more valuable. I know that you didn’t have a father growing up and to be honest, I can’t blame all of your faults on you. It wasn’t fair that he wasn’t around – in fact, it was cowardly of him. But I praise God that he predestined you to be different, to be conformed to the image of his son, a Godly man (Eph. 1:5). As a kid, you were always my hero. I wanted to be like you in absolutely everything - that was the reason why I always wanted to be a teacher! I still look up to you for everything. From a young age, you taught me to think. I was reading before kindergarten and you taught me to love learning. I powered through all kinds of books and I excelled at all subjects. Even more, you always challenged me to think carefully and deeply.You gave me difficult tasks and expected me to figure them out.We debated and discussed politics and the church. I can’t tell you how much this has set me apart from my peers - I am able to be critical and analytical, work efficiently and quickly, to be quick on my feet. None of this is my own doing, but a result of the work you have poured into me.I could never forget where my parents came from. As the son of two immigrants, I could never forsake the values that you taught me. You came from nothing, from wandering in the field in hand-me-downs and thrift tees to working your way through learning English. And even when you knew English, you suffered through poverty and worked your way through college to provide all I could ever need. You’ve taught me the value of hard work, through your blood, sweat, and tears. You pour yourself completely into everything you do, whether teaching, studying, running, or even yard work. I have learned this from you – all the work I do, whether cleaning the house or writing a paper, I cannot give anything other than my best. You taught me to be content with less. I’ve never needed more than what you provided for me. I’m passionate like my father, sometimes even hotheaded (or “intense” as Alex likes to say). I learned to love to sing from you, even when I’m off-key. I tuck in my shirt when I go to church because you always told me to when I was younger. And though I sometimes have difficultly speaking it, I am forever grateful that you taught me Spanish. More importantly, you taught me the value of family. Week in and week out, it was a point to visit my Abuelitas. I spent weekends in with my parents instead of at the movies or at the beach with my friends. Although at the time it seemed unfair and oftentimes boring, I couldn’t be more thankful. I don’t know anyone who is as close to their family as we are. And I know it seems funny, being that I chose to go to school 2600 miles from you, but I can’t imagine being anywhere but close to you when I raise my family (Lord-willing). My kids will also know that family is most important because God has declared it so (Exodus 20:12). In you, I have my father, but I also have my most dependable friend. Although I could never treat you as such, you were the brother I never had growing up. But knowing how to think, to honor family, to work hard, it would all be for naught without the Gospel. But praise be to God that you raised me in the instruction and discipline of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4)! I learned to fear God and keep his commandments from an early age. My fear of your punishment and rebuke (and maybe the belt) extended to a fear of God. The Father has used you to teach me right from wrong, to teach me both of my sin and imperfection, but his steadfast love and faithfulness, demonstrated most fully at the cross. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses,made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved!” (Eph. 2:4-5) And although I was not disciplined in prayer and scripture reading, you were. You have always been disciplined. But I think this was God’s plan, to teach me his discipline in the way his hand would be most evident. Had I learned it while at home, the power of his sanctifying Spirit would not have been made so evident. I love God’s discipline because you were quick to discipline me. I love his Word, and I love the way he reveals himself. I love that God does not change and in fact, his steadfast love is for me. My desire is to be holy before him, and to grow more and more like him each day (2 Cor. 4:16). You have never been a perfect dad, but I don’t expect you to be.That is sin at work in our world. But you have been my father from my birth. You spoke to me in my mother’s womb and held me from my first days. You are an honorable man and a beautiful example of a loving husband. You are the father your dad never was, and I am proud to call you my daddy. I could keep writing on and on, but there will always be a chance to tell you more. I am sure that Aaron will grow to be a man of integrity and of character, just like our father. Proverbs rings true – The righteous who walks in integrity, blessed are his children after him (Proverbs 20:7)! I have been thoroughly blessed because of you. My prayer is that I may be a wise son, that I may make a glad father, and bring blessing to you. (Proverbs 10:1). I look forward to the day when our relationship is made perfect in the new kingdom, and we see the Lord our God face to face. Until then, you will always be my dad.