Sam, I know I say this often, but I’ll keep saying it because I want you to keep believing it. I’m so glad I get to call you my son! I’m pleased with you. I’m proud of you. You add joy to my life every single day!
You’re the kid for whom we prayed extra hard, and you’re one of the greatest answers to prayer God has ever given us!
But you’re not a little kid anymore, are you? You’re on the journey from boyhood to manhood, and it’s full of all kinds of twists and turns. I wanted to take an opportunity to share some big life advice with you.
What I really want to do is go back in time and put together a bunch of Lego toys again, but my role in this season of your life is to help you get ready for all of the things that are next. So on your thirteenth birthday, here are thirteen “words” from your Dad I hope you remember.
1. You’re amazing and you’ll always matter! God designed you. Your personality is no mistake. You’re uniquely crafted in God’s image and you’ve been given a purpose and a combination of gifts and abilities no one else has. When you mess up (and you will), when you suffer and go through hard things (and you will), and when you get hurt by other people (again, you will) none of this will ever diminish your value.
2. You have a pretty special mind and heart. Your mind is a temple. There are quiet, secret places in our minds where nobody will ever fully understand what we’re thinking and feeling. That’s the place where the Spirit of God meets with you. And there, within that quiet place where God’s Spirit lives in you, is all the joy, peace, confidence, and wisdom you’re going to need in life.
3. Stay close to your people. You need friends. You need community. You need your Mom and Dad and brother and sister as long as we’re here on earth together in this life. Lean in and love no matter what.
4. Don’t stop growing. Of course, you’ll have to stop growing physically, but spiritually and mentally, you’ll always have room to grow and more to learn. Don’t stop learning. Be curious. Welcome people into your life from different backgrounds. Read about outer space. Visit new places. Let your view of the world just get bigger and bigger along with your view of who God is.
5. Some things are timelessly good, like music by Credence Clearwater Revival and Miles Davis, and movies like The Last Man on Earth and the original Star Wars movie (the unedited version where Han shot first). Don’t ever lose touch with the world that was yesterday even as you boldly march into tomorrow.
6. You have permission to feel stuff. I wish I’d given you an even stronger vocabulary for it all, but it’s important that you know that it’s okay to feel things and to express your feelings in healthy ways. It’s okay not to be okay sometimes. And it’s okay to get help when you need it. You need friends (see #3 above) but you also need mentors and coaches and maybe a counselor, too. It isn’t a weakness to be helped by others. In fact, it takes a lot of guts to admit you aren’t completely self-sufficient.
7. You have the most amazing Mom on earth! She captured my heart when I was seventeen years old. We started life pretty early and did a lot of growing up together in our early years. We are both different people now than we were back then and I can testify that God has used your Mom to “save” me in a thousand ways. Honor her and you’ll live a longer, happier life.