A Prayer for my Son on Father’s Day
It’s Father’s Day and instead of doing a typical shout out to my dad I’m looking the other way, a letter to my son. Really, if it weren’t for my dad and the love he gave me I wouldn’t be here, a father, praying these things.
May you be strong and may you learn that strength is not found in dominating others, in aggressiveness, anger, physical prowess or a lack of tears but in the way you carry yourself in the most difficult of situations, how you share your strengths with those who need your strength more than you do. Real strength is being able to bear the challenges that come with commitment, the trials of standing up against injustice, and the fear of those who are intimidated by your strength. Real strength is compassionate and does not shy away from committing to others, to engaging people wherever they are; often it takes strength to meet them in those dark places. This doesn’t mean your strength will make you a hero or a savior; real strength recognizes the dark places within itself and ensures humility.
Son, may you be loving. Love those who are closest to you; put everything you have into that love and you will never regret it. Love your friends and your community; put everything you have into sustaining relationships, not for some eventual payoff or for safety in numbers but because you recognize the power and beauty of sharing your life in relationships with others. Love those who are difficult to love, they’re often the ones who need the most love. Before you decide that someone is difficult to love, make sure you’re not being the difficult one; don’t be stingy with your love.
Son, may you always have a thousand questions on your tongue and the wisdom to know the best time to ask them. Seek out people who also have questions, often one person’s questions are another person’s answers. Those who purport to have all the answers rarely do and those who claim to have none of the answers often have more than they know. I pray that you’ll be a man who realizes the futility of knowing all the answers and is content with questions, a man who has faith in the beauty of the unknown. Being in a place of questioning leaves you both vulnerable and open, traits that are often seen as undesirable. May you recognize the strength in vulnerability and the possibilities of being open. Above all, know when to ask questions and when to close your mouth and listen.
Son, may you always be willing to drop everything for an adventure. Adventure is often equated with masculinity and men trek through the wild, conquer mountains and go to the extreme to prove their mettle – this is not the adventure I am talking about. Often this sense of wildness is a decoy, a ploy to make you run and run and run and never stop to think about why you are running or if you like running or if running is the best action for you and those around you. Adventure often fails to respect those around you and substitutes substance for adrenaline – the thrill of the chase. I pray that you love the kind of adventure that challenges you to learn more about yourself, that pushes you to think more about those around you, and that brings you to new realizations; may you always catch what you are after and be content in that moment.
Finally, know that I love you. Know that this love will never stop and will never diminish, there is nothing you can do to change this, all you can do is accept it. Even more, know that my love is imperfect and that, despite my attempts, there will be times when I will fail you. Please be patient with me. Our love is a journey with no end goal, no outside motivation, and no set path; it is up to us to decide where this journey will lead us, which avenues we will stroll down. At this early moment in our journey, I am reminded of the hope of new beginnings and the excitement of new adventures. Yes, son, this is going to be one of those good adventures – you and I – one where we learn more about ourselves, more about each other and where we realize that we are not on this journey together by accident. We were made for each other.