Always See the Worth in Others (Letters to My Son)

Dear H,

You love to look around. Whether it is church or a restaurant, anywhere with people, you will look around and observe. You take it all in for a few moments and then you start smiling and waving.

As you grow up, keep looking around. As you do, look at others for their value and worth.

The world has its fair share of people who are mean to others. Don’t be another voice in that crowd. After all, every person you see is made in God’s image. Every person is filled with worth, value, and dignity. How you treat others can help them realize this.

We’re to “honor everyone,” the Bible says. I’ve heard people say, “If you want my respect, then you have to respect me.” But, H, it doesn’t matter how someone treats you. You can’t control that. You can control how you respond. You can control how you treat them.

Treat them with dignity, even if they try to make it hard. Show them their value through your kindness. Help them to see, above all, that they matter to God. Let your life be a shining light.

Love,

Dad

Honor everyone.

1 Peter 2:17

Image source: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Dance to the Music in Your Heart (Letters to My Son)

Dear H,

It’s fun watching you as you near one. When music plays and you hear the rhythm, it doesn’t really matter what it is, you grin and start to dance. They’re silly baby dances, but you have fun.

Something happens to most of us when we grow up. We stop dancing, at least in that same way.

As a baby, you get to just be and do. Yes, some things, like all people, you need to learn to do–like walking and reading. Other things, like all people, you need to learn not to do–like hitting daddy in the face and trying to steal his glasses. As you grow up, though, you’ll start to feel the pressure not to be and do but to be like others and do what they do.

We want to fit in. And we should want friends and companions, but here’s the thing, son: Don’t change who you are just to fit in with people who look, act, and dress the same as each other.

God makes each of us different. He gives us the same purpose–to love him more than you love anyone else and to love others as much as you can. But even with that shared purpose, he has given you your own personality, experiences, talents, likes, and abilities.

Let those shine. Be you.

For sure, be the best you you can be. Be a you who loves Jesus and others. But be you by dancing to the rhythm in your own heart.

Love,

Dad

It’s you, God, who paint my life on your canvas. You shaped me inside and out. You put me together, built me, while I was still in my mother’s womb. For this I praise you: You’ve made me unique, a wonder, just like all the works of your hands.

Psalms 139:13-14

Image source: Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Pursue Happiness (Letters to My Son)

Dear H,

Life is hard. You’ll figure that out in time. So, here is one of the best pieces of advice I can give you in light of that: Pursue happiness, the best you can.

Some will tell you that life isn’t about being happy. Some will say that God isn’t all that interested in your happiness. They’re wrong. The truth is: God is more interested in your happiness than you are and one of his aims for your life is to bring you into eternal happiness.

But here’s the thing about that: God does not intend for you to pursue happiness apart from him because there is no true and lasting happiness without him.

Some might tell you that you’ll find more happiness without God. And it’s true, there are momentary delights in many sins, but that’s the thing–they are just momentary delights. Their end is ruin and sorrow once the pleasure has passed. It is, rather in God and from God that you find “abundant joy” and “eternal pleasures” (Psalm 16:11).

Some might tell you that following Jesus is too much of a burden. That is only true when we let it be. Following Jesus is about love and joy and freedom. Yes, it challenges things in ourselves, especially that pull of sin and pride. When we embrace the challenge, though, we find rest; because, Jesus’ “yoke is easy” and “burden in light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Pursue happiness, son. Make it your life’s ambition. Seek to bring happiness to others. Above all, let God be the one to define and provide such happiness for you.

Love,

Dad

Happiness is found not in the advice of the wicked, the way of sinners, or the gatherings of mockers. No, true happiness is found by the one who delights in God’s word and ways.

Psalms 1:1-2

Image source: Photo by Stan B on Unsplash

The Simple Joys

I love watching my two-month-old son. Truth be told, there is a lot he still doesn’t do. He eats, he sleeps, he poops, he cries… Though he’s begun to make various sounds, the first of his “baby talk,” and he smiles and grabs, and he’s starting to hold his head up a little more.

But there’s one thing he does that seems to be his favorite. When he’s not tired or hungry (i.e. he’s in a good mood), we can lay him down and he gets a content look on his face as he swings his arms wildly and kicks his legs.

The blur means he’s happy.

Now, we would think it strange if we walked up on an adult doing the same. As we grow, there are childish things that we, rightfully, leave behind. At the same time, watching my son is a reminder of the contentment and joy that can be found in the simple.

It’s an idea contrary to our consumer culture. The whole point of most commercials we see on TV or pop-up ads online is to create within us a sense of dissatisfaction. “Oh, you think you’re happy–well check out this new car, home, toy, restaurant, computer, exercise bike, whatever–you’re missing out!”

If those behind the advertising are good at their jobs, then at the end of the commercial we are less happy and satisfied than when it began. Jealousy kicks in at what our neighbor has and we don’t. The seed gets planted and we can’t get it out of our minds until we purchase the new thing.

And it satisfies, at least for a minute, until the next commercial airs with the next model of whatever we just bought.

Truth be told, though, there is more lasting joy in the simple things; a sense of satisfaction that can be found walking a trail, sitting by a lake, staring at the stars, or watching a two-month-old wildly swing his arms without a care in the world.