You have chosen a Navy career, at least for the short term, and tomorrow you begin in earnest. I’ve watched you embrace this choice over the last few months as you have waited to begin Basic Training, and I’m proud of the way you’ve prepared yourself mentally and physically.
For us, it’s the empty nest at last; you leave just a few days before your oldest sibling’s 35th birthday. I tease about wanting your room and being ready for this new stage of your dad’s and my lives – but I will miss you, my tag-along who has brought so much joy, lifting my heart with laughter, offering words of encouragement on difficult days, offering me hugs and sharing photos and songs and films . . . making me grateful every day for the gift of your life.
Yes, I will miss you, however I may pretend otherwise.
I pray for you, my son, as you go into an environment containing – as all the world contains – so much of good and so many temptations. I pray that you will embrace every opportunity offered you to grow in honor and courage and selflessness and service, to become every day more and more the man God created you to be. And I pray that you will pursue wisdom above all else – wisdom that will protect you from the temptations to follow mere self-serving, momentary pleasures that will turn to ash; that you will be courageous to stand for that which is honorable in every area of life, unafraid to turn away – joyfully, and with a smile and laugh perhaps, never self-righteously – from that which would drag you down into behavior that will harm you and those around you, now or in the future. I pray for your mistakes – because we all make them – to be ones from which you can recover, having learned to be that much greater a man.
You will be different when next I see you. I look forward with joy to finding how you will have grown, to begin knowing you not merely as my youngest child, but as a man in your own right, becoming more a man after God’s own heart every day.
God be with you, son. I love you.
(And maybe I’ll let you crash in my new study when you come home. :))
photo credits: Keiller Impson; Steven Franklin