An Open Letter to My Son on His Graduation

Dear Joey:

Love is not easy to put into words, especially a mother’s love, the depth of which is unfathomable.

From the very beginning, I knew you weren't mine to keep. When you were little, an amazing woman reminded me that you weren't mine to keep, you had only been loaned to me by God.  And with that, I gave you to Him. God's grace is an active part of your life, has been from that day. His promises to us are your promises too. They always will be.

When I look at you now, tall and strong, I don’t just see an eighteen-year-old man, I see you in all of your life’s stages at once. I see you as a newborn in my arms in the shadows of midnight, a blur of blonde hair racing down the stairs in Barney pajamas on Christmas morning, the jeans and tractor shirt of a pre-schooler not sure why he has to go to school, the tender realization in your eight-year-old brown eyes that your karate instructor was asking you to spar a girl. {Who knew that not hitting girls didn’t apply in sports?} You promptly refused, and allowed her to win every time you were paired up.

I remember a well-worn grave digger back pack, the white corsage of a 6th grade graduate, the constant daily black t-shirts and puffy shoes that were middle school, dirty football uniforms, the proud new driver, and now, a man.

The recent images run together in a blur.

Teaching you to drive - and the first time you took a vehicle out without me or Dad. A million 4-wheeler rides! Your Baptism at church, with your Dad and sister. Last good-byes said to a loving Great-Grandmother, Meme and Papa Puddin.

This Mama is so privileged to have enjoyed such focused time with my littles. Long walks, shopping, pools, beaches, cooking, movies; transporting you and your sister to a million practices and back.  One thing we have always kept a time.  How blessed am I to have littles that enjoy it just as much as I do.

As much as a mother raises her son, so does a son raise his mother. You have taught me so very many things as I have watched you grow. From you I have learned the power of a tender heart as I have witnessed your quiet kindness to others all of your life. (Though there was that rough patch when you were nearly asked to leave daycare because you punched a boy that was being inappropriate with your little sister) You were always willing to jump in and be friends with anyone, simply because you knew they needed one.

You taught me how to find joy in the moment and to laugh at even the hardest situations. You have such a gift of making others laugh. Your sarcastic humor is a constant source of delight that lightens our days. It reminds us to relax and not take everything so seriously. Movie quotes, song lyrics and statues...such laughter!! We've laughed till we've cried {well, at least I did}. You've always kept our household happy!

You have always been crazy and supplied us with endless stories to tell! From the time you were so upset that "Jade gets all the cool girl toys" to telling people your Papa killed a deer with a weed eater, and that's how you lost your toe.

You used to have the most horrendous fights with your sister. Oh, the fights...I thought they would never end. It has transformed into the sweetest sibling relationship. The bond you have is one of the most amazing, happiest things to watch.

Each chapter you go through in life has a specific lesson that God, in His all knowing wisdom, sees that you must learn. Painful chapters draw us near to Him, and joyful chapters let us rejoice in Him. Both are important.  Remember, as Pastor said, to never allow your light to go out!  Each morning when you wake up, look down at your arm and see that word tattoo'd on!  And allow your faith in Jesus to dictate your daily path.

Bubby, I love you. You have brought such happiness into our home, such unbounded joy, such faith.  You are the son that every mother dreams of having. I could not be more thankful for you and proud of the man you have become. Your character and integrity are important to you. You have been blessed with height and people will have to look up to you during your lifetime, the important thing is to make them want to.

And we love you. We love you in the knowledge that though our love is imperfect, flawed by our own weakness and fear, God's love is pure, welcoming, and relentless. Where our love may not see clearly, God's love cuts through the fog with clarity and truth. Where our love is strong, God's love is stronger. And where our love in its imperfection may seem sometimes to hurt, God's love - which is perfect - will always heal.

I love you Joey, and I couldn't be prouder of the man you've become!

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13, 7-8.