I wanted to send you an email and tell you Happy Birthday. I also wanted you to know a few things as well.
Being your dad is the greatest privilege in the world.
You’re 15 years old now. It seems like yesterday that I rocked you in my arms until you fell asleep. Now, we’re competing in basketball, working out together and hanging out. I love hanging with you. You’re growing up too fast J-Man.
People tell me all the time that you’re my clone, a bona fide mini-me. If only they knew how proud it makes me to hear that. At the same time, it’s terribly frightening that someone in the world has my DNA, along with the tendency to reproduce my quirks, gestures and attitudes. Thankfully, your mom’s DNA helps to balance that out. That’s the beauty of God’s system. Two flawed and feeble human beings reproduce a blend of themselves in someone who has a lifetime to live life better than they did.
(had to add this photo for proof)
You’re well on your way Justin, already pondering hard questions and thinking about your future. You blow me away with your compassion and gift of mercy. I guess some of your mom and dad’s good DNA has rubbed off on you. You may be quiet at times, but I know your brain is churning. You have already developed an instinct and desire to reach out to those that have less than you. Whether a fatherless friend or the kid that just does not fit in. Even though you do not verbalize it, I think you really understand and are aware of how great and wide God’s love for you is.
I love that you are so strong and competitive. Even at the young age of 4, you wanted to do things at your pace, on your terms. So, you started walking and running and then soon after talking! I have been blessed to have the opportunity to watch you grow up to be the young man of integrity that I see today. I am your Biggest Fan.
If there’s only one thing I successfully pass onto you (besides 80% of your physical features, which, frankly, I had no control over) let it be this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbors as yourself. These truths, combined with the strength of your wonderful character, have the power to change the world.
They’re hardly original thoughts, but there are none better to build your life around. The God who fearfully and wonderfully formed you in your mother’s womb deserves every ounce of your love and affection. Throughout life’s challenges, He will always provide, never steer you wrong, and empower you to fulfill a destiny that’s exceedingly above all you, or anyone, can think or imagine.
That destiny involves other people. God has a purpose and plan for your life Justin. Leave your mark by loving each and every person your life touches, those who love you and those who don’t. Love has no conditions. It expects nothing in return. It gives freely, multiplies and grows. Do this and everything else will work itself out.
As you learn to love others, don’t forget that your love for them can go only as deep as your love for yourself. Not a self-obsession love, but rather, an understanding that you are God’s handiwork, crafted by him and for His good pleasure. He uniquely designed you to be you alone, comfortable in your own skin. Be ready to create your own path in life. You can choose the wide path or the narrow path. It is your choice. Never will there be another Justin Stuart. Never will someone else impact the lives you have and will in the future as only you can. Imperfect though you will be, learn to appreciate your weaknesses, as it’s in them that you will experience God’s greatest strengths.
Justin, another gift God has given you is your sense of humor. You love to be funny, watch funny things and laugh. Laughter is a gift from God and he has blessed you greatly. You have taught me not to take life so serious and to pause and enjoy this life God has given me. Thank you for making me laugh.
My job as a dad is to create a home of security and love, laughter and nourishment, where you can cry without fear, grow without judgment, and discover without prejudice. Event though I have failed at times, you need to know we are here for you always.
I can’t wait to see what your future holds, the joys and challenges that await you, the legacy your life will create. But today, I’m enjoying you too much right now. All 15 years of you.
I pray you cherish your life’s journey as much as I am.
I want you to watch the video about a father love. It speaks to my heart and I hope it speaks to yours. Listen to every word spoken. I love you Justin.