Happy Birthday, Son!

Baby Sebastian & Mom (circa 2001)
Baby Sebastian & Mom (circa 2001)

He stands nearly half a foot taller than me now, growing so fast, his pants hem and this momma can’t keep up. He flexes muscles and is quick-witted, he is smart, empathetic and keenly aware of social issues.

My prayers were answered when the ultrasound wand confirmed we were having a boy, “a son.” Because I was convinced that having a son would be “easier” as a single mom. But I didn’t know about the mother-son bond and how this boy with his long dark lashes and tender heart would undo me.

Nearly every day for the past 15 years, he has touched my soul in some way. He is the first to ask “How was your day?” and “Did you you sleep good?” or say “Mom, you look so pretty today.” He makes me laugh so hard over the silliest things and will instantly change my mood after a hard day at work with one of his spontaneous hugs.

Sebastian turns 15 today and there are a few things I need to say to him:

You don’t have to fit in. The world expects you to act a certain way. Culture demands it. But it’s okay to be a square peg in a round hole, to look different, be yourself. It’s alright to chart your course to God’s plan, even when others might not understand it. Yes, you might feel odd or weird chasing it, but that’s okay, most world changers do.

You don’t have to give in. You already know about the pressure–to talk or dress a certain way, to disrespect adults or girls, to be like those that do. But you possess the strength and character to walk away, the Christ living in you will help you stand. You don’t have to give in. But if you do…

You get second chances and third and fourth… You can start again. Every sunrise is a second chance to get it right, to say no, to say I’m sorry, to ask forgiveness, to make a new start. I want you to know that this is what God is about. He wants to give you as many chances as it takes, just don’t ever stop taking them.

You don’t have to be tough (all the time). Boys are supposed to be rough and tough. Maybe you’ve heard that “real men don’t cry” and always wear a stiff upper lip. But I want you to know real men are tender, they care about others, and root for the underdog. They rush to open the door for elderly women and use their manners. They cry over poverty and when they grow up, they tuck their babies into bed.

You don’t need a girl (yet). Girls. They are everywhere and their influence can be intoxicating, you’ll discover that soon enough. I can’t wait to see the girl God brings into your life and I already pray for her. Become friends with Godly girls, but don’t be in a hurry to make them a girlfriend. That time will come, enjoy today.

You make me proud. If you didn’t do another thing, win another award, get another A, or an E in conduct, I want you to know I’m proud of the young man you’ve become. I love the way you are a good friend and listener to others. I love the way you give generously. I am proud of you, son.

You are a success if you love God and others. I don’t know what you will be when you grow up. I think an engineer or a millionaire, possibly a missionary pilot or an artist. The sky is your limit and it’s your choice. But no matter what you accomplish or don’t, in my eyes, you’re successful if you love God first and others second. Always remember this is true success.

You have great men in your life. God has given you amazing men to shadow. They love God and their families more than themselves and if you aren’t sure where to step next, look for their footprints.

You can always come home. No matter what happens in this life, what you do or don’t do, you always have a place with us. We might make you want to leave with our rules or ask you to because of your actions, but we won’t stop you from coming home.

You are loved. No matter how long those legs grow or how high I have to look up to you, you will always be mine. I can still wipe your tears and listen to your heart. I can still ground you and make you say your sorry (hopefully). No matter what you do or what happens in this life, you are mine and nothing can change that. If you never hear another word I say or choose not to listen, you must believe that you are loved deeply by your parents. But even more than we love you, you are loved by a God who sent His son for you. Don’t ever doubt it. Believe it. This life might bring great joy or sorrow, great wealth or loss, but you can make it because you have love. Make sure you give it away. It’s the best way to receive it.

And most of all, we say a lot by not saying anything at all. We can accomplish a lot by praying these words from Psalm 63:8, “Lord, please instill in my child a soul with a craving for You, a heart that clings passionately to You.”

Happy birthday, son.