To Nathan on His Second Birthday

My Beloved Nathan

I can’t believe it took me two years to write this, but in a way I am glad it did. When you discover a treasure of immeasurable worth, it gives time infinitely greater value. These past two years have left me enriched beyond my wildest imaginings. For as long as I can remember, my greatest desire has been to have a son, and the miracle of who you are has made even that enormous dream seem limited in its expectations.

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There are no words to describe the awe I felt when I first heard your heartbeat through the sonar scans, or felt your tiny kicks in your mother’s womb. Even then you were feisty and determined.

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I remember how tiny you were when you were born. You weighed only 2.84 kilograms, but I knew I was holding a world in my arms, and the weight of the responsibility was both thrilling and terrifying. You were so utterly dependent on me. I have seldom felt so powerful and so completely powerless at the same time. As you will discover, love does that to you.

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I want so badly to be able to protect you from life’s pain. Every night I came in to check that you were still breathing – I was so terrified of your fragility. I cannot contemplate losing you. But I also understand that if I want to help you cope with life, you will need to develop tools for handling the hurt it will bring. And you made such a brave start. We barely noticed when you were teething. And at every vaccination, you barely made a fuss. I felt like such a traitor, knowing you could not possibly understand that the pain was for your own good. I think you bore it with greater equanimity than I. You are such a courageous boy.

There is so much I want to tell you, so much I want to give you to make your life’s journey less painful than it might be. But already I see your willingness to take risks, your disdain for fear. I know that you will need to learn the tough lessons for yourself. Still, I am your father, and to the very core of my being, a teacher. You will, I trust, understand that my love compels me to put into words the things I most dearly wish for you, not just to know in your head, but to cherish in your heart.

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May you always have an unwavering belief in your worth. Your name means “God’s gift”, and that is certainly what you are. You are a treasure of incalculable value. May you always know that your worth is not determined by your accomplishments, nor even by your character; you have worth because you are loved by God – and that can never change. Make Him the centre of your security, your sense of worth, your wisdom, and your guidance, and you will never have cause to falter. You will never have to earn God’s love, nor will you ever have to earn mine. I will always celebrate your achievements with you, and I will always value who you are over what you do, but my love for you will not be determined by either.

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May wisdom‘s voice always be clear to you. May you not be misled by the false promises that this world makes you, in an attempt to buy your allegiance; may you not be deceived by the illusions of a better life it will offer you. May you always understand how the world truly works, and make your decisions accordingly.

May you see that everybody – whether consciously or not – will try to use you to further their own agendas.  They will have a script for you to follow and expectations of how you should play the roles they have assigned you. May you always have the courage to discard the scripts you do not like, and to write and live by a script of your own design.

May you always find hope, even when there seems to be none. When dark days come, as they inevitably will, may you remember that hope, like so much else in life, is a choice you have to make, not a feeling. There is more to life than the frustration you will so often feel.

My darling son, I need to warn you that life is hard. People are treacherous, things are not as they seem. But you are God’s gift. You have so many powerful gifts that you will, in time, discover, develop and hone. Trust in God, believe in who you were created to be. You have a purpose. It is not something you necessarily need to discover; you can help create it. And if you choose something larger than seems possible, something larger than yourself, something that will build God’s Kingdom and bring His love to this broken world, then you will find a fulfilment and peace that words simply cannot explain.

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I want you to know life in all its abundance, and that can only be found through the Author of life Himself. My deepest desire is that you will come to love Him and seek to know Him more, with a heart that is never satisfied with its knowledge or comfortable in its opinions. I will – as long as I am this side of eternity – do all I can to guide you to that end. I will always love you. I will always be proud of you. You are my gift from God, a treasure beyond price, my son.

Happy birthday, Nathan.

Love Papa

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