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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To my Son

I was 28 years old when I found out I was not able to produce a child. Up until that time it was the most devastating news I had ever received. Several months of medical tests by some trained professionals who were reported to be the best in their field, but the reports came back with the worst news of my life. That all my hopes and dreams of having a son into whom I could pour my life, with whom I could share my life's joys and hopes, and the things I had learned that were so important to me... I had to let it all go. That despite being married to the most talented person I have ever met when it comes to working with children, I was unable to give her what her heart wanted most: A child of her own, to love and to cherish. She was broken by the news, as I was. But out of her brokenness she saw possibilities and a new purpose, while I remained devastated. It took more than a year before I realized that I had to let the dream die. I thought about God asking Abraham to kill his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. How he would have descended that mountain with nothing left of his dream but a bloody knife and a few years of memories of life with his son. Now I was being asked for something even more; to let the dream itself die, bereft of even memories of a few short years of joy together. 

So I did what Abraham did. I headed to the mountains with a few provisions on my back, and a dying dream in my heart. Alone in the wilderness I had it out with God. With tears I shouted his name, and asked him where he was in my hour of need. I asked him why he was asking me to sacrifice my son, and why my wife was robbed of something she so obviously was gifted for and prepared for her whole life. All I heard was the silence of the wind in the rocky peaks, the creaking of the glacier, and the rushing river far below. No voice from the sky, no burning bush... nothing but the beating of my own heart and the sound of my questions. I remained there for ten days, praying, talking with God, and listening for answers. In the end I found peace. The sacrifice was made and I descended the mountains with a numbness that comes from not knowing why, and having no choice but to obey and to move on. I figured He would make it clear to me some day, and if not, I would heal over time. It would be okay.

I look back on the last 25 years or so and am amazed. What I didn't know is that at about the time I was in those mountains struggling with God, a woman living five thousand miles away, in a little town on the Danube River in Romania, a woman I will never know, was having struggles of her own. Struggles beyond anything I will ever experience. Struggles that led to an unplanned pregnancy and the birth of a child that she could in no way take care of by herself. So with a sadness so few have known, she left her son in the care of an orphanage where, she hoped and prayed, someone would find him and meet his needs. I did not know that this child would become the son God wanted me to have and to raise as my own flesh and blood. I did not know that this was the son He chose for me. But he was.

Turns out there was no sacrifice at all. Only a delay, so a greater good could be possible.

In looking back over the years since then, I realized that although I gave my son to God in those mountains all those years ago, I gradually started taking him back for myself. I started thinking he was mine, and that because he was mine I had a right to insist on certain things from him. I forgot that I had given him to God. I forgot that he never belonged to me, any more than any child belongs to a parent. Yes, I was his father in every way that has meaning. But he still belonged to God first, and to himself second.

So I struggled (and still do). Letting you go is a really hard thing to do. Letting you become your own person. Letting you make your own mistakes, the same way I made mine when I was your age. But now I know that I need to move out of the way and let you become the person you are. The job your mother and I had for those few, sweet years, was to build a foundation for your life, and to lay a straight path in front of you so you would know where to go. Now it is yours to build your life, and to choose your path. We will always be here for you, son. Always loving you, always praying for you, always willing to help however we can.

I am so grateful for you. You have taught me so many things I would never have known. Things I needed to learn. Just as there were many times when I was teaching you without even realizing it, so you have taught me things without knowing you were doing that. Thank you, son. 

I don't know how long we have together. Life offers few guarantees. But however long we have together, I hope we can always remain close, and that we can continue to learn from each other. I love you, son. You were chosen for me, out of thousands of others. And I chose you, out of thousands of others. It was meant to be.

I would do it all over again. I really would.