I can remember the reaction of my father in-law when Anne and I told him we were going to get married. I don’t recall whether he screamed or definitely had this look of total shock on his face. I was stealing the one daughter who he knew had missional aspirations after college. I know that our wedding was rather a hodge podge of traditional; we had a 100-voice choir sing Great is Thy Faithfulness and Jesus Freak, we had 10 of my college friends sing Jesus song. As we approach the wedding of our Jon I am quick to admit for myself that no one is ever totally ready to get married, grow up and be responsible for yourself or another person.
I know that it is never easy for a father to show his true love and affection for his son. There are some testosterone issues happening that make it difficult not to be competitive. I recognize that Jon and I are very different in a lot of different ways. I know that he won’t necessarily have the theological awareness as I do or passion for community development nor will I have the most recent stats for the Phoenix Suns or L.A. Lakers ready to recite. Yet, the amazing blessings is that I do enjoy sports and he also enjoys helping and being around those who don’t have the fortunate of having a mom and a dad. He has played basketball in the hood and has the scares to show for it and the absence of a few cell phones.
I know that it is easy for parents to want to put their kids in a certain box that totally defines life, success and how to handle life issues. My hope and prayer is that through our testosterone battles over the years that my Jon can both feel and hear my love and admiration for him. I know it isn’t easy to have parents who love academics and seem to give the impression that unless you get at least a master’s degree you aren’t going anywhere. I know from running a few marathons the focus isn’t on how fast you cross the finish line but rather whether you cross the line.
I want my son to know that I am excited to see the adventure of his life unfold before his eyes and those of his wife to be! I can remember not too long ago helping him with his LinkedIn profile. I can remember as a kid growing up into a teen and then college student thinking that I really wanted to be a scientist that helped find a cure for cancer or heart disease. Looking back I’m rather amazed that my dad did give me more input about life choices when it came to career and education. I’m proud of the fact that Jon chose a path for his college education that ultimately will serve his passion in life – sports, leadership and communication.
I will often say to my New City youth and adults that what matters most in life isn’t strictly what you say but how you live out your life. You can say you love someone but if your actions don’t show it then the person is still going to feel on the outside when it comes to relating back to you. Much as it is so essential to show your love and concern for someone in a tangible way it is also key to say to my wife of 39 years I love you to her face or as I kiss the back of her neck. Don’t get me wrong I’m not going to kiss my son in this fashion but seek to express my love to him in ways that are on his level.
I know that as a kid growing up it is so easy to think that winning is the only thing that matters in life! I can remember winning a little league championship where I hit 3 home runs in a row. My mom made this out to something that I heard her talk about for years after that Saturday in Glasgow, Montana. My hope for my Jon is to help him see that winning is important but what is even more important is learning how to be a gracious loser. I know that few if any understand what this truly means. Few of us will graduate number 1 in our class, especially if your class size is more like 9,000, like at ASU. Much like my wife’s younger brother who is a doctor would tell the same silly statement, “What do you call the person who graduates last in their medical class – DOCTOR.”
I know that it is my job as a dad to figure out my kids and love them for who they are today not for who I would like them to be in the future. I am excited to have my Jon and his Jodi live literally minutes away from our house. I know that in the future they will most likely have little Jon’s and Jodi’s that Anne and I will have the blessing to spoil and love even against their parent’s wishes. So how do you show your love to you son or daughter? How do you rise above the status quo when it comes to be both a friend and parent to your adult kids?
I know that I have a tendency to be competitive and quick to judge so I can’t promise that I will totally stop being this way but I will try. I am thrilled that my Jon will have an opportunity to have a job that can turn into a career with a future. I also know that he might work at this new career for a few years and decide it is time to pursue his real passion sports. I won’t be surprised if this happens.
My prayer for my Jon and his Jodi are that they can journey together through their lives together and discover the heart of God for them. I can’t promise that their lives together will be easy nor always fun but one where they have parents and a faith in a God who is more than able to meet them today in their present circumstance. I know that as my Anne would say that initially it was the lust of the flesh that brought us together but ultimately we became real friends that choose to walk together and learn together. The most important life goal for my son and his wife is to choose to always be more than roommates but true partners in their life journey together. So I’m excited for them regardless of whether they have a son or daughter or 5 kids. I know that in today’s setting will see both of them have many different jobs but the constant in their lives I pray will be their love for one another, their parents and family’s love for them and God’s love for them.