A letter to my son Jaime...
Some other related hubs of mine...
My Pastor and friend, Dave called me and asked me to write a letter to my son who is serving with Metro Ministries in New York, and who is having an 'encounter' weekend this weekend (5th March 2010) as part of their ministry training.
I have no idea what an encounter weekend is, but I trust Metro and their leaders, so it will no doubt benefit him.
So that's easy huh, just write a letter to your son, but then you think, what do I say?
Below is what I said, he's seen this before you are reading it, so it will be no surprise, but then I thought, how many other fathers out there have never actually had the opportunity to address their children in a letter.
Writing it made me realise how badly I have been as a father, a task that we are not prepared for at schools (at least when I went to school) and which my parents were unable to impart usefully to me.
But also I realised that by the grace of God, I had/have been able to break my son free from many of the generational curses that my family have suffered under for generations (obviously) and that he is indeed free in Christ.
So I offer this letter as my admission of guilt and failure in many relationship areas, and an example of how Christ can change situations in anyone's life.
But mostly of how God is the father we all need, but may not have had
Or maybe I should start calling you James now....?
I really do not know what this encounter session is about, and having just asked you then either you also do not know, or cannot tell me yet!
This morning I had a coffee with Dave, and we discussed various things, about the school, about life in general and about my general lack of fathering skills!
I was not a believer when you were born, neither was your mother, so you were fair game for the enemy to take a swipe at, but as he already owned your mother and myself lock stock and barrel, Satan had no real reason to target us, then.
My coming to faith when you were three, produced a reason for him to get annoyed, and as you know our family broke up, with your mother leaving the household and you, to my care.
Sammy, our housekeeper, raised you more than me, she was a surrogate mother to you, and cared for you full time whilst I was working away in Barcelona, when I only saw you at weekends.
I've never been a 'football' Dad, Jordan had Lee and turned out sporty, you were stuck with me and left mostly to your own devices from age five, when we left the big house for Paco's house in the campo, and age eight, when Susanne came into our lives.
I tried to be a father as best I could, and I did teach you about God as we lived day by day, but you were still alone most of the time, as I studied bible or wrote things, leaving you to Sega games and old cartoons.
Your rebellion against Susanne's entrance and authority was to be expected, as you lost even the small part of 'us' that existed when 'she' took presidency over 'you', which is the correct biblical order, but still caused hurt and pain I am sure.
No apology can suffice, you were alone in the middle of a family, and when Jessica was announced, you were further isolated from us, as we had by then stepped out of fellowship and moved to Ronda, where you were required to make all new friends and learn a whole different life.
Then your birth mother had the bright idea of sending you to be a boarded in Malaga for the last two or three years of your scholastic life, and you and I lost touch pretty securely, except when I was driving you to school from Ronda at 5am on Monday mornings!
I relished that time together, it was more time than we had normally had to speak and discuss things, and I saw that you were becoming your own person, and that it hurt me more than you when we reached the school and you left my life for another week.
Finishing school and starting work at the venta was another strange phase between us.
It was unwritten that it was better at that time for you to live 100 meters away with your 'friends' and for us to live as a 'new family' in our house up the hill, and even though we saw each other daily most of the time, I recognised the parting of our lives, even if you did not.
So our moving back to the coast and you deciding to join us, was a great light coming back into my life, and to see you mature and learn to drive, and to finally see you come to faith on your own accord, was a great pleasure and reconciliation.
Then you decided to go to Metro and my world collapsed again for a while, as I faced the unexpected and inevitable longer term separation that this indicated.
But we all adjust, and although I miss you daily, our stilted conversation on the phone indicates that our relationship is not one which is yet comfortable and easy.
I know this is my fault, my father was an emotional cripple after his war experiences, and as I have told you, the first hug I ever received from him was when I took you home to my parents as a newborn babe, and made him hold still long enough for us to hug.
I was 38 years old, so my life with you gave me the opportunity to try to be the father I wished I'd had and to not make the same mistakes with you.
I worked to cut you off from most of the generational problems I recognised our family suffered from, and it seems we were able to do that, as you have avoided most all of the errors I committed by your age, and instead of causing distress to those you meet, you seek to bring peace and the Lord into their troubled lives.
The Lord has seen fit to empower you with a ministry for children, and, as Dave said earlier, you will be far better equipped for fatherhood, when that happens, than I or my forefathers seemed to have been over the previous generations.
In case you ever had any doubt; I love you more than life itself, always have from the moment that the nurse gave you into my care, and I committed to care for you.
I never dropped you off to school or anywhere else without telling you I loved you, it probably lost currency I said it so much, but I wanted you to hear those words whenever we parted, so that if that was ever our last meeting, you would have those words to remember as my last words to you.
I do not have any trouble loving you more than life, but I do have a problem expressing it, and again that's generational.
Make sure that finishes with me, that you learn or practise not only knowing your love, but expressing it freely to those you love.
I tell you truthfully, I am very proud of who you are becoming, and although it pains me to realise that your life will be in all probability led on the mission field thousands of miles away from us, I accept that you belong to God, not me or us, and that He has made His plans for you, plans to prosper and bless you (I have also prayed that God would bless you every day of your life, every day) and to guide you better than I can.
We are only ever custodians of our children, raising them for Christ or Satan.
It's a stark choice, but it's truth, and I am glad that the only advice I could find on child raising was to raise a child in the ways of the Lord and he will not depart from them when he is older.
You have proven that to be true, and even better, are putting it into practise with your ministry.
So enjoy your weekend, and tell me what you encounter during it, when we speak on Monday, and always remember:
I love you.
Update February 2012
James, with a team of three others, has been in India training fifty believers from all over the country in the ways of Metro Ministries.
So two years after he left home to work with Metro, he is now passing what he has learned forward, which is the way it should be.
When he went to the American Embassy to get his re entry visa for the States, the Embassy officer handed him his visa'd passport with the words "Well Pastor, your Visa has been approved, congratulations and welcome to the USA" which made me kind of weepy, as it was the first time James had ever been called 'Pastor', and I realised that in truth, he is a youth pastor, and will no doubt be in full time ministry from now until Christ returns.
I am one happy father!
Here is one of his Facebook comments:
'Having lots of fun in India, enjoying everyday more! Today we went on the local train (packed), visited the Gateway of India, among other places, had an INCREDIBLE Thai Foot Massage ate great food with great company and fed Street Children! Tomorrow More fun to be had! Loving India and the once in a lifetime experience!'
What more could I wish for my 22 year old son, than to be serving God in a ministry that functions, with no bells and flashing lights' worldwide.
*Just realised that what I predicted two years ago, has been fulfilled!