Thursday, May 15, 2014

To Jack: Your first year as a teenager

My dearest Jack,
You are 13 and finishing 7th grade.  For the first time in your life, you are testing the boundaries.  It has been a good year of growth and learning for you and I.  But I admit, I have been a little baffled at times with you.  It is a big thing to see your oldest child learn to maneuver life in a new way as a teenager.  And it is really scary as a parent, not because YOU are bad or scary, but because I have been a teenager, too.  I want you to know things that I didn't know and I am afraid that you will not listen to me and that you will have to learn these things yourself.  I have trouble letting you learn things the hard way because I ABSOLUTELY adore you and I never want to see you hurting or in trouble.

This year you got in trouble at school for the first time.  You decided to leave a school play with a friend and wander around the school.  You knew this was disobedient, but you had no idea what a big deal it would be to your teachers and principal!  The long and short of it was, you cared more about what your friend thought of you at that moment than honoring God.  We spent a lot of time praying and talking together with Daddy to come to that conclusion.  I remember, OH SO WELL, how important it feels to want to be accepted and liked.  I still want to feel accepted!  I am praying that as you spend more and more time with God in His word and prayer that you will love Him so much that you will live for an audience of One.  This is freedom!

The very best thing about the big ordeal at school was how shocked your teachers and principal were that you were involved.  This showed Daddy and I how trustworthy and honorable you have been in class.  There were at least five teachers who saw you leave the play, thought about approaching you, but didn't because of your character.  On the one hand, we were a little dismayed that now they may think differently of you.  But I talked to each one of them, and they assured me that this was just a lapse in judgment and that they still respected you very much.  We are praying every day that your behavior will continue to earn their trust and respect.

You had this negative incident, and it was a big deal for sure!  But overall, you have had a great year.  I have watched you sit or stand at the kitchen table and become a very diligent student.  You set goals for making good grades and you work really hard to achieve your goals!  You are beginning to see how your actions now will effect you in the future.  That shows a great deal of maturity.  You are working out your salvation and learning how to apply what you know to your life.  Your best quality is that you are humble and quick to apologize.  God says he loves a "humble and contrite heart".  Every one of us are sinners, only a portion of us know how to admit it and seek repentance.  This trait will give you so much joy and growth in your walk with Christ!  Another great thing about you is your humor.  You keep us smiling and laughing and we love you ability to keep things light around our house.

Oh Jack, you have no idea how highly we think of you.  We are so very proud of you, son! You have no idea how much we pray for you.  We so deeply desire to see you love Jesus and do your best for him.  It is a really hard thing to make foolish mistakes and have to live with regrets.  Trying to give you the freedom to stand on your own to feet and taking the risk of seeing you fall is the hardest thing I have ever done.  Please don't get made or frustrated when I hang on too tightly.  I am praying for discernment and wisdom all the time, but sometimes I still make the mistake of hovering.  I am determined to improve in this area.  But even so, please trust me and do your best to be obedient and respectful.  God promises such great things to young men who do so and I want those things for you now and in the future.  You have such an amazing, exciting adventure ahead as you follow God!

You have brought joy to me every day of your life.  You are an amazing miracle, my friend.  I love having conversations with you and getting a glimpse into God's beautiful design for you.  Your mind is so complex and intelligent.  And you have such a huge heart with so much ability to serve and love! I am excited for every year ahead.  Bring on 8th grade!
You spend a lot of time at the kitchen table with an open Latin or Math book!  This investment will definitely pay off!

You are one of the funniest guys I know.  (Goofing off at Hobby Lobby!)

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to YOUR WORD. I seek you with all my heart, do not let me stray from your commands."  Psalm 119:9-10

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