“You are my own dear son, the answer to my prayers. What shall I tell you?” – Proverbs 31:2
I watched you from across the room tonight, son. You didn’t know I was looking as you were lost in your own world, a world that’s rapidly changing from a boy’s to a young man’s. You don’t play with toys too much anymore, and your fascination has moved from Elmo and Little Einsteins to the science of a remote control car.
It’s hard for me, son, because your world changing means mine is, too.
I look at the profile that first captured me in an ultrasound, and I see a squaring jaw where baby pudge used to be. Instead of stinky diapers, there are now stinky feet. Instead of board books bearing your teeth marks, chapter books and school textbooks now fill your room. This stage of life is new for both of us, my son. It’s uncharted territory, and I’d be lying if I said I weren’t a little scared.
I’ve never raised a boy to a man before. I’ve never walked this path successfully, so you and I are venturing together into uncharted territory. We are, in a way, growing up together, and I know I have as much to learn as you do.
My sweet child, as you move from boy to man, there are so many things I want you to know. Here are some lessons I want you to learn as your independence grows and your perspective shifts.
I’ll always be here.
There will be many new experiences you’ll face in the next few years and new relationships that compete for your attention. More of your time will be spent away from home, and you’ll find yourself in a lot of new places. Even so, our home will always be your home base. My ears will always listen to your voice, and my heart will always hold you close. There is nothing you can do or say that will push me away, and there’s nowhere you can go where I won’t welcome you back. I will always be your biggest fan. I believe in you, I trust you, and I am always – always – here.
Who you are when you aren’t home is an incredibly big deal.
I have spent these early years of your life teaching and training you in what I believe matters, and the coming years will be the testing ground. I know who you are, son, in the deepest parts of yourself, and the world will be coming for you. The world will try to get you to follow its path and believe what it believes. You don’t have to. You can be yourself regardless of who is around or what others say. Who you are doesn’t have to change when you walk out our doors. Who you are is exactly who you should be, and you should never feel anything other than confidence in him. The world out there is where you prove who you really are.
Your treatment of others is the second most important thing about you.
One of the first verses you ever memorized is Matthew 22:27-29: “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” The most important thing about you is your love of the Lord, and the second is your love for other people.
Son, it won’t always be easy to love people. You already know this. People will not always want what’s best for you. They will be unkind, they will manipulate you, and they will cheat you. Hurt from others is inevitable. But even in the bad, you are called to good. You are commanded by the Savior we both love to show His love in all circumstances. This will take your intentional effort and conscious choice. But people will remember how you treated them. People will never forget how you made them feel. People need love and kindness, and we are asked to give these to them.
The way you treat girls should be different from the way you treat guys.
Listen – you know I believe females are just as capable, intelligent, and important as males. I have a little Jesus Feminist inside me, and I’ve never hidden that from you. However, I believe very much that you as a male should be deliberate in your treatment of females. You should always, in every circumstance, be respectful of them. The girls you talk to are some man’s daughter or some guy’s sister, and that man will come after you and break your femur if you hurt her. Speak kindly to her. Open her door. Pay for her meal. Listen with your ears and your heart when she speaks. Do everything you can not to make her cry. You have grown up with a mother and sister – think of us when you are with a female. You have a divine responsibility to lead a woman, and though the world will laugh at this notion, we as believers take this seriously.
There is nothing more admirable than hard work.
You have a lot of natural talents, son. You have abilities that far surpass mine, and I know many things come easily to you. However, those are not the only things you should do. Working hard at something you naturally struggle with will teach you far more than only doing what’s naturally easy. Every single day, no matter what task comes your way, choose to give it all of your effort. Choose to work as for the Lord, not for men, and choose to lay your head on your pillow knowing you gave it your all. The end of each day should leave you exhausted. If it doesn’t, you’re not working hard enough.
Your feelings aren’t your enemy.
Our culture teaches boys a lot of wrong ideas, and one of those is that emotions are for girls and only sissies share their feelings. Take it from a natural feelings-stuffer: if you keep it all inside and never release your feelings, you will eventually explode. You’ll cause more damage to yourself and others by exploding than you ever would have by sharing, and the fallout will be much worse. You don’t need to share everything with everyone, but you do need a confidante with whom you can be brutally honest. And in the times when you struggle to know who that person is, know that I am always willing to listen.
The decisions you make now will stay with you forever.
I don’t want to scare you. Truly, I don’t. But in these final growing-up-years before you leave our nest, you will be choosing so many things: how seriously you will take your education; with whom you will explore the world; the direction of your spiritual life; the path of the years to come. You will make decisions in our home, in your classrooms, in your car, in your girlfriend’s presence. You will make decisions about where you will go, whom you will trust, and what you will say. And none of those decisions is insignificant. Each will leave a lasting mark on the man you will one day be.
My best advice is simply to think before you act. Ask yourself, “Is this wise? Will this please God? Will this contribute to the dreams I have for myself?”
And finally: know that nothing in your life is insignificant to your Maker.
There will be huge, exciting, event-filled days in your future, and there will be mundane days where it seems like nothing important is happening. Sometimes you will feel like you’re just going through the motions, and you’ll become frustrated when it feels like you’re spinning your wheels. But it’s in these days of doing the same old thing that your character is built and your faith is tested. In these times you might wonder if God sees you or notices anything you’re doing.
Rest assured that He does. He is watching you, dwelling with you, and working in you. Every detail of your days is important to him, and since it is, remember to work as for him. He notices it all.
I love you, my sweet boy, more than I could ever attempt to explain. The sight of you makes my heart grow, and the thought of you becoming a man who will change this world for the better fills me with pride. You’re in this world at this time for a very specific purpose, and I pray that through my prayers and God’s revelation you learn just what that is. I’m here for you, son. Always.
♡ Jennie Scott is a Christian author and writes for Proverbs 31 Woman.
If you like this story, you’ll love this too → My Darling Daughter, Don’t Ever Forget Your First Love
Sign up for Proverbs 31 Woman newsletter!