Letter to Dove

About 2 and a half months ago I sat in a meeting where a 55 year old mentor and and friend read a letter that he had wrote to his son 8 years earlier. It was sobering and inspiring hearing how powerful the written word can be and the process of writing and reading things that often go unprocessed and unsaid. After about 2 weeks of procrastinating I wrote my thoughts to my oldest daughter Dove. That same day we went out to Starbucks and I read it to her. I was crying, she was not. It’s hard to know who was more impacted by the process. I do know this though, the older she gets the more I think something like this will mean to her. When we were leaving the coffee shop she asked if I was going to post it online. I asked her if she thought I should. She said that she thought it would be a good thing to share for “other fathers and daughters.” So here it is.

11/1/2010

Dove,
I wanted to take the time to write down some thoughts before I forgot. Sometimes life can go by pretty quickly and before you know it a lot of time has passed. Can you believe that you’re 9 now? That may not seem like a big deal to you but to your mother and I it’s pretty crazy. It didn’t seem like too long ago that your mother had just given birth to you and I was holding you in my arms crying and we decided to name you Dove. To this day, Dove is one of my favorite names.

Well, there’s a few things I wanted to tell you because having kids is kind of strange. I think kids always think that parents know what they are doing and then when they get older they think the opposite. My guess is that over the next 10 years (and possibly even more after that) you will start to questions a lot of things and wonder about many others. My hope is that there are a few things that you will NEVER wonder about:

The first is that I want you to know that I love you. A LOT. No matter what. Did you know there’s nothing you could do that would make me not love you? If you think of the worst thing you could do, you could do it 100 times and it wouldn’t matter. There’s a good chance it would make me love you more. . .but I hope you never try to find out.

The Second thing is that your mother and I, but especially me, have a lot of problems. I know that right now we are the only parents you know about and we may seem pretty ok but as you’ll get older you’ll probably see that there are other ways of life and other ways people live. You will probably wonder why we had so mistakes that they did not and why they had benefits that we did not. There will be times that this will probably make you sad or even angry. Dove, I want you to know that it’s ok to be sad or angry with your mother and I. Did you know that we were both sad and angry with our parents? But, I hope that it doesn’t stop there for you. You see, the other more important thing I want you to know is that I am sorry. I am sorry or the ways that I hurt you and the damage we caused. The more you learn about humans the more you will come to believe in The Fall. The more you get to know your mother and I the more you will come to see that we are very much like some of the people that you see and may think you don’t want to have anything to do with. And Dove, we hope you forgive us.

And Dove, you may wonder why I am telling you all this. Well there will some a time when you think that you are different than us. Sometimes you will think that you are better, and I hope you will be. But I know there will come a time when you feel that you are worse. This is terrible and this is what it will look like. You will do something really bad. In fact it will be so bad that you will not want to tell us. You will believe that if we knew how bad it was we would be surprised and shocked and love you less. Dove, this is a lie. That’s why I wanted to go through the trouble to tell you about your mother and I. Guess what? We made you! If you’ve done something bad we’ve ALREADY DONE IT! We are the same. (I think I’m a little worse than your mother.) We’ve had the most terrible thoughts and done the most terrible things. But this is where it gets really cool. Because no matter how bad we are or how unacceptable we feel Jesus says that we’re his kids. And he’s been where we were. He was a kid. And when he finds out the bad things He loves us more. That’s how it will be with us. And whatever happens your mother and I will let you down but we all know that we have bigger parents that will be there for ALL of us.

So, Dove. I hope you remember this. I know you’ll forget but read this letter often OR make me read it when I forget. And please know that you can ALWAYS come to us. You will never be too bad. Whenever you want you can ask your mother and I and we will tell you the worse things we have done and we know you will still love us. The opposite is true as well. Isn’t the Gospel a wonderful story! Because of it I love being your Dad! I love you always, Dad
P.S. Yesterday we went to the Remlinger Farms for the Harvest Festival and then Trick ‘or’ Treating.
P.P.S. Your mother is pregnant with #5! When this baby is 9 (how old you are now) you will be 18.
P.P.P.S. I am so proud of you. I know I don’t say it often enough but you do such a good job as the eldest looking out for you brother and sisters in ways I never did. Your job is sooo important and I hope you realize your proud your mother and I are of you.

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5 thoughts

  1. Whoa Ben! You’re gonna make me cry! Ahhhh! Beautiful letter, vibrantly honest and a treasure to be kept safe. I can’t think of a subject more vital for children to understand than the safety of family and the fallibility of parents. I can’t wait to see what kind of adults your children become.

  2. I don’t have kids but as a child of God it’s such a blessing to be reminded of this. It radically impacts how we understand our relationship with our heavenly father and influences how we love and treat one another. My wife Khaya and I were just having a similar discussion this morning and I often remind her that nothing will change my love for her no matter what.

    Dove you may not know me very well but be encouraged to know that you have two fathers that love you very much. You father Ben and your Heavenly Father YHWH.

    Also thank you Dove for sharing something so powerful yet personal. Many have been built up and encouraged already.

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