An Open Letter to My Children, an Honest Confession to My Friends, and a Help for Those Like Me
To My Four Precious Children,
I love you…but I can do better.
I can do better than overreacting to trivial things, than lecturing, than blaming.
I can do better than harping on the condition of your rooms, the excesses of your laundry, the mess at the table.
I can do better than feigned ultimatums and authoritarian threats.
I can do better than half-listening and partially engaging.
I can do better than constantly asking you to “calm down,” to “be careful,” to “take it easy.”
I can do better than flippant, unguarded retorts….better than sarcasm…better than frustration.
I can do better than giving you what’s left of me at the end of the day. I can give you what’s best of me.
I can do better than outlining the standards. I can live those standards faithfully.
I can do better than tell you the way. I can show you.
I can do better at guarding your hearts, at empathizing with your emotions, at caring about what you care about.
I can laugh more…like I used to.
I can be silly, and loud, and wild with you, for you.
I can get on the floor and wrestle...even when it’s late.
I can play hide-and-go-seek...even though you’re older now.
I can listen, intently, to you describe, again, how you “broke their ankles” on the basketball court or “Odelled” that catch in the endzone…and act like it’s the first time I’ve heard it. Because you don’t need me to care one time. You need me to care everytime.
I can come running to your room when you are begging to show me something you just created…because that email can wait. -- Do you hear me? That email. Can. Wait.
I can watch every spontaneous performance, and do it with delight; cherish every artwork, even though I’m now out of printer paper; and enjoy every moment as your chauffeur, because it’s time I get with you!
I can hold you quicker than scold you when you get hurt…because “I told you so” doesn’t heal.
I can help you start your day with joy, and courage, and hope…not anxiety.
I can help you end your day with peace, and love, and affirmation…not stress.
I can have patience with your shortcomings...because that’s what God has done for me. And because you’re still a child and you’re learning. You’re growing. You’re exploring. I can make allowance for your faults. I can give you the freedom to try, room to fail, and grace to fall.
I can openly appreciate your uniqueness, applaud your oddities, and celebrate your personality. And I can do it so you hear, so you know how special you are.
I can be more gentle.
I can be more kind.
I can be more present.
And most of all…I can LOVE you better.
I can show you Jesus…IN MY LIFE. Not just in the Scriptures, though they’re wonderfully beautiful and we’ll always stand there.
Not just in the Church, though it’s incredibly vital and we’ll stay faithful.
Not just with my Bible answers, my worldview, my career.
But in ME.
In the way I am WITH YOU.
In the WAY I LOVE YOU.
That’s why I can do better.
That’s why I must.
Because of Jesus.
Because He loves you and he’s asked me to do my best to represent his love to you.
That’s my greatest joy and highest calling as a father.
My love won’t be perfect, but His is.
And even when I fail again, and I will, I promise you that I’ll do better…and He will help me.
Your Loving Father