Hurt Feelings, Bad Days, and Little Boys: A Letter to My Daughter About Manhood

You came in the other day and said, “Ask me about my day?” I knew something was up because when I normally ask you say, “fine.” Knowing you had something to share I put my stuff down and quickly got out of my grumpy dad coming home from work routine and sat across from you in the kitchen. You shared about how an older boy kicked a ball at you and called you a bad name. There were tears in your eyes as you relived the moment and felt a shame that wasn’t yours to own.

Fear gripped my heart and I pressed in to give you a hug. I wondered how deep the would was? I wondered if I could mend it with my words, my hugs, or even my tears? Part of me was desperate to mend your brokenness, part of me was wondering how I might break the boy who made you feel this way, and part of me was glad that you had shared it with me.

The part that wanted to heal your brokenness jumped in first. We talked about how this boy was wrong and how you had done nothing wrong. We talked about forgiveness and cleaning the bitterness out of our hearts. We talked about the gospel and how Jesus had loved us and died for us while we were still sinners. We talked about how hard it was to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we knew that if Jesus commanded us to do that, we could do it in his strength and power. So we prayed for him.

Then I came back and let you know that I was jealous for you. As you father when that boy called you a name, he called me a name. That you are my princess (not the word he called you) and that should it ever happen again he would answer to me when I go to have a conversation with his parents. I let you know that you had a bigger advocate who was willing to take on this older boy who seemed so big and brave on the playground but was tiny compared to your father.

Then I was glad that you had shared this moment so we could walk through it together. You gave me the gift of allowing me to be your dad, to hug you, to guide you, to model maleness different than what you experienced on the playground. My prayer is that you forget this incident ever happened and when you come back to read this you have a hard time recalling the event… but that your character has been impacted by it so you are quick to forgive, know deeply you are loved, and walk confidently into womanhood.

There is a kind of boy who pushes shame on others through his words, his actions and even his stares… There is also a kind of man who removes shame that is not yours to carry, who loves you and will give his all for you. I’ll never stop being your dad, but when another man like that enters your life it will be my joy to walk you down an isle to him and give you away. You are my princess.

50 Shades Away. A Letter to My Son About Love

So maybe we won’t have all of this conversation today (He’s just 5). But we do talk like this about Love.

Just so you know, I love your mom. I mean I LOVE her. That word is so hard to grasp sometimes. We use it for everything from the newest video game to the pizza we ate last night. So when I say love, I mean I treasure your mom. She is precious to me. And when I say that I’m not saying that I “posses” her or have a right to her in any other way than she posses me or has a right to me. The ring on my finger says that I’ve committed to her, I belong to her. It affects my decisions, my leadership, my actions, my everything because we are in this together.

Love is more than something that is just emotional. Because I love your mom I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions. Some of them we’ve shared like the joy of exploring new places or the deep happiness when you and your sister were first brought into this world. Some of them were reactionary like the deep empathy for pain I experienced when your mother was in the middle of giving birth to your sister (no pain meds). I scared myself with how angry I got one time when someone insulted your mother’s character and another time when someone stole her purse. To be fair we’ve been mad at each other too but have almost always found a way to reconcile before we went to sleep.

To be sure, love is physical, but not always in the way you might expect. It’s holding hair back while your loved one vomits. It’s coming home from work early to clean up vomit. It’s a trip to the drug store to pick up medicine. It’s rocking a sick child in the middle of the night so she can get some sleep. It’s fixing a car. It’s doing the dishes. It’s working hard at a job so you can spend your paycheck helping to put a roof over your heads and food on the table. It’s a deep hug that says “I will never let go of you” at the moment when it feels like the world just changed. It’s a holding a hand at the right moment to say, “I’m with you no matter what” (not just at the movies). It’s a sweet little kiss on the cheek every day. Then inside of marriage there is the gift of sex. It’s a physical expression that no one else shares. And just like everything else with love, it is an act of giving. 

You see love is sacrifice. It is commitment. It is work, but above all it is giving. If you want to really experience love one day. Work hard, stay out of debt, and practice extreme generosity. We never love perfect people (though your mother gets closer to perfection every day) and we never love perfectly (hopefully I’m getting better at this too).  So keep short accounts, be quick to forgive, and never hold grudges. Be the first to believe the best about others and the last one to believe the worst.

Above all, honor the women in your life, especially your mother and sister. They are not objects, they are holy creatures made in the image of God and deeply worthy of honor.

1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 5, Song of Solomon

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

As One Devil to Another by Richard Platt (A Review)

I read As One Devil to Another last week and was blown away at the insight into human nature the book provided.  The Author, Richard Platt, writes in the same style as C. S. Lewis in his book, The Screwtape Letters. The book chronicles a series of fictional letters exchanged between two demons on the nature of deceiving and tempting the human to which one is assigned.

As One Devil to Another is well written for it’s genre and reads faster than one might suspect for a book full of “letters.” There are a few points where the author seems to press his view a bit more than the writing style intends to hold, but for the most part the insight into the human heart is spot on and even creepy.

I really liked this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of C. S. Lewis’ The Screw Tape Letters. As One Devil to Another is also a great read for pastors, teachers, etc. who are looking for a reminder or need a refresher on just how easily we are deceived. I give it 5 Stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Letters to Young Men: Integrity in your Relationships

Dear Friend,

I hope this letter finds you doing well and growing in your relationship with God.  Last time we spoke, we talked about being in the word of God.  I want to encourage you to keep up your commitment to reading the scripture.  Along those lines please read the scripture passage I have enclosed.  This week I want to share with you what the Bible says about being the husband of one wife and how to best prepare yourself to lead in your marriage one day.

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you– if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. (Titus 1:5-8)

I know that this passage deals primarily with appointing pastors and elders, but think with me for a moment.  Do we expect more of our pastors than we do of our people?  Is it right for a believer who is not the pastor to be sleeping around, getting drunk, quick tempered, rearing children that hate God, greedy, and undisciplined? No!  We expect Christians to act like Christians and we expect our pastors to model the Christian life. (As a pastor I pray that you have seen Christ modeled in my life along the way.)  So while this passage is about pastors… It also out a picture of what a mature Christian man looks like.  That being said, you are to aspire to be a mature man in Christ.

So now what about that “husband of one wife” phrase?  How doe that apply to you as an unmarried man?

The idea being communicated in the text is that of “a one-woman man.”  How does a single man make sure that he is a one woman man? … You guard yourself from craving of soliciting the attention of a plurality of women. In short, if you like a young woman, tell her.  It doesn’t have to be awkward, but it is important to define the relationship sooner rather than later.  If you don’t, you may end up leading someone on. If you aren’t interested in marrying a young woman, don’t flirt with her.  If you think that she likes you and you don’t like her, remind her (and act towards her) that you are just friends.

I remember early late in college around the age of 21, I found myself newly single and eager to share my insights on life with anyone of the female persuasion who would listen.  Little did I know that I was leading people on more than I had planned. All the girls I had been “flirting” with told the one girl I really liked that I flirted with everyone and I got dumped before the relationship ever began. In the long run it ended up working out well for me in that I sobered up to how I was leading some young women on, learned more about biblical manhood and womanhood and  was careful to define relationships.  I hope to spare you some bumps and bruises along the way by weighing this scripture and my advice.

Are you living like a one woman man?  Are you leading anyone on?  Remember sometimes women can put more stock in a friendship than we do. Is there a relationship that you need to define?

The wait is worth the reward.  Have I shared with you before about how I courted my wife? It’s a good story.  You should look it up if you are interested.

Your Friend,

Pastor Jonathan