Today, I’m walking down memory lane.
Today, I have a loop reel of the faces of hundreds of parents that I served during my years as a Student Pastor. I remember looking them dead in the eye as they fretted over their son or daughter and saying, “You’ll make it through this. This too shall pass.”
Today, there’s a twinge of … something … going on in my soul. I can’t quite describe it, but it feels like … oldness (is that a word?).
Today, I feel just a little bit more out of touch.
Today, I’m going to let go a little more than I want to.
Today, the scissors are coming out and we’re snipping just a couple more threads off the apron strings.
Today … I am the parent of a teenager.
It was thirteen years ago that I held that little chunk of screaming baby in my arms. Thirteen years ago that I cried because of God’s mercy to us. Thirteen years ago that I changed my firstborn’s very first diaper and then ducked as he peed all over me.
I find myself revisiting all the things I ever said to parents of the teenagers in my group. Was I off base? Did I have a clue what I was talking about? Was I relying on biblical principles or my own pseudo-knowledge? Will the things I taught be the things that I turn to now that I’m in those very same trenches?
I find myself looking backwards to the first thirteen years and forwards to the next thirteen. Will he become the man I want him to be? Will he be a better man than I want him to be? What parts of his character still need to develop?
As a dad, there are so many areas where I’m so proud of my son. He’s a servant. He’s good-natured…most of the time. He’s a great athlete. He’s polite in public, obeys authority…sometimes even parental authority, and is developing his walk with God. He’s far from perfect – at home he can get mouthy and roll his eyes like some people roll dice and sometimes sigh the paint off the walls – but when he’s clothed and in his right mind, he’s a downright good kid.
Today I realize that my job is more important than ever. I’m the guy at the steering wheel, veering around potholes and staying far from the cliff’s edge. Soon, he’ll take over the controls, and it will be then that I’ll be able to see what I taught vs. what he caught.
I’m grateful for the spiritual leaders that God has put in his life. Jason, Ryan, Josh, Marcus, Brandon…you’re the men that my son looks up to. I thank you for giving up Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights and countless weekends and summer days to invest yourself in him.
I’m grateful for the generation of men who have gone before me…Grandbobby, Paw…you model Jesus to your grandson, albeit long distance, and you remind me that I was thirteen once, too, and I survived (mainly because one of you allowed me to).
I’m grateful for my wife, a mama bear if there ever was one, who now looks eye-to-eye with her first baby and within the next twenty minutes will probably be eye-to-chest, if he keeps growing at his normal rate. You’re so protective and loving and nurturing of all of our kids, and I appreciate how you teach me balance in my parenting.
And finally, I’m grateful for the subject of this post. Jacob…you made me a dad. Austin and Jase may have their own accolades, but you’re the one who gets top billing for giving me my favorite title. Half of me hopes you never read this, because I don’t want to mortify you into Adolescent Embarrassment Purgatory. But if you do, know that I couldn’t be prouder to be your father.
Happy birthday, dude…I love you. (insert fist bump here)