I never wanted children. I just wanted to be married. Stacey never wanted to be married. She just wanted children. But the state laws were pretty strongly worded against her desires…so she married me.
…And she has taught me how to love being a dad. And it changed everything.
Affirmation is a big deal in our family. It has been a vital glue to teach each other who we are and to cement our powerful bond of love. We write letters of affirmation to each other for birthdays, mother’s day…ground hog day…everything.
So, a couple weeks ago, my family took me to several places along the route of Phoenix’s newly opened “Light rail.” Our first stop was “Lux”, a very trendy, hip, coffee shop. There, in front of a latte with foam in the really cool shape of a fern, I read aloud the letters from my kids. Soon I started sobbing. And again the power of guileless affirmation, which gives only to give was used by God to remind me who I am in Him and what He has been doing while I haven’t been noticing.
This is a note about the power of grace-trusted. This is a note about God’s faithful love. This is a note about the power of living out of identity. This is a note about a way of life that wins by never trying to win. This is a note about wooing our kids into their new identity.
I’m quoting Amy’s letter, but only because it’s the only one in front of me today. She’s my 21 year-old who’s getting married this summer. This is a snippet of an incredible letter to me. I have never, ever, anywhere had anyone express the fulfillment of the deepest desires of my heart. I have never, ever been told what I could only dream that my life would be about.
This is a note of hope, for all of us, who can lose sight of what God is doing in the midst of our choices to trust Him in the dark. I have kept in the shameless affirmation because, well, dig me! But mostly its there because it should have never happened. I never should have stumbled into such a life. It is the glory of God, to redeem a selfish, self-centered, ego-driven man into caring about something other than himself-if only for minutes at a time.
“So, it’s another birthday-February 16th, 2009. 56 years ago you were born into a family. You are now the last one of that family still living. You didn’t have the greatest family but you learned some significant things from both of your parents and somewhere along the way, you learned how to create a healthier family than had ever been modeled to you. I don’t how you did it. I don’t know how you were able to walk into this so blindly and somehow figure it out better than anyone else. It really amazes me! You spent many years of your life being hard and wild and immature. Those years shaped your life in some ways. But you have now spent a majority of your life following Christ and making yourself teachable and humble. You have allowed God to completely transform your life. With that choice you made to follow Christ, almost thirty years ago, the whole outcome of your life changed. Your life and world would not look anything like it does today. Long before I was on this earth, that decision you made deeply affected my life. I would not be part of this family. You would have never fallen in love with mom. You would not be a part of Open Door Fellowship. So many peoples’ lives have been blessed because of that decision you made. God knew how much all of these people would need you. He came into your life at the perfect time. Just in time for you to meet mom at a wedding a few years later. Just in time to mature your heart for this woman who would instantly fall for you. It was all a part of His perfect timing and plan for your life and for my life and for many other people’s lives.
It’s unbelievable that I get to have you as my Dad! You are sought-after and pursued and admired by many, many people. You are busy and stressed out and overwhelmed and over-booked most of the time. You get hundreds and hundreds of e-mails a week. You’re trying to cut things out of your life that aren’t absolutely necessary to make more time in your days. You never have enough time for all the people that want to talk to you and get together with you. But, you have always made time for me. And it’s never been hard for you to do that. You’ve never had to fit me into your schedule. You always just work your schedule around me. You answer my phone calls even when you’re in meetings. You always respond to my e-mails the same day I send them. You call me throughout the week for no particular reason, just to say hi and see how I’m doing. It means so much to have you pursue me and be interested in my life and interests. You’ve always been that way. And as I’ve told you in probably most of your birthday cards, that is the reason I am as healthy as I am today. The way you pursued me, and set aside time for me, and cared about the things I cared about and stood by my side, and remained patient with me, and reminded me of the things that were really true about me, protected me, and walked through life with me, and never let go of me…you helped me to see my way through the tough seasons. And because of your faithfulness during that time, I realized that you were one of the most significant people that I would ever have in my life. You drew even closer to me during the time when I was the least attractive, the least teachable, the least kind, the most deceiving, the most tempermental, the most angry, and the most hurt. Your consistency in my life during that time taught me the importance of loyalty. I have valued faithfulness and loyalty ever since. It made all the difference in my life.
And now, we are so far removed from that season that it feels almost like something from a dream. I still remember it clearly but it seems so long ago and I feel so healed from it! Our relationship has been so fun since then. We learned how to trust each other. I was forced to be vulnerable with you and now I don’t know how not to. It seems like because of that season, we are now more fun together than we ever were before. We get each other! We really know how to make the other feel special. We have spent some great times together and made some incredible memories. We are really good friends and we can see through the other person. It’s such a gift to have all of those things true about my relationship with my dad.
I have loved dreaming about life with you and getting to have you so involved in this time. I appreciate how happy you are for me, and how you see the joys in my life and get excited for me. You have loved Danny and been a fan of our relationship since before day 1. I love always being able to call you and process life with you. I always need to call you whenever I have something hard. Not because I want to tattle to you or because I need your sympathy, but because I trust your opinion and guidance above anyone else. You are the most discerning person I know and I trust that you won’t take my side just to take my side. But I know that you will always protect my heart and help me work through something in the healthiest way. That’s such a big deal to me. You are an incredible person and I am so blessed to get to call you dad!
These are days that I will remember for the rest of my life. And even though in about four months, I will have another man protecting me and taking care of me, I will always need you. And I will always look forward to the times I get with you, the phone calls from you, the short weekend visits with you, the e-mails from you…You’ll always be my daddy! I’m so proud of who you are, and the way you love others, and the way you constantly give, the way you value honesty, and the way you love your family, and the way you tell on yourself and apologize when you’ve been wrong, and the way you are integrous, and the way I never have to worry about you trying to get away with anything, and the way you value kindness, and the way you deeply enjoy special moments and the way you let others into your life to protect you, and the way you love mom, and the way you are hysterically funny but never use humor to hurt anyone else, and the way you have learned to be a servant, and the way you trust God with your life and career and dreams and future. You are a rare, rare human, and I am on of the blessed few who get to walk closely by your side through this fun life. I couldn’t be more proud of you. Happy Birthday.
Amy Kristen Lynch”