When I turned 18 I certainly thought often about my hopes and dreams for my adult life. It is difficult to remember exactly what I thought my life would look like now, but I am absolutely certain the reality of life at 28 has far exceeded expectations. 18 year old Doug thought he knew a lot, and of all the things he was wrong about, I am glad he was wrong about how sweet life could be. This Groundhog's Day as I celebrate another year of life, I offer these reflections:
Surely the raging, hormonal dream of love from the opposite sex knew nothing of the nuances of a marriage drenched in forgiveness and service. Through tremendous joys and difficult trials Christ reminds us that our pride will always tempt our hearts, but humility will give life to our love. Teenage Doug could have guessed that the physical expression of marital love would be great, but he had no idea how much love could exist in the subtle looks of affirmation and the silence between carefully chosen words during a disagreement. I don’t know much about psychology, but I know that our insecurities make it difficult for us to understand how God, or other people, could possibly love us so freely and unconditionally. I admit that there have been times when I have resisted the incredible love that Danae offers me because in my sin I am aware of how little I deserve that love and I fearfully believe the lie that I cannot love her the way she deserves. I can love her well, but only because of the work of the Lord in my heart.
Danae- We’ve got a good thing going. I hope I am loving you better today than ever before in our storied history. How beautiful, and rich and profound is marriage! We had no idea it would be this challenging, or this great, but I do believe we knew we were all in from 05/11/08 to the very end.
I have said somewhat jokingly recently that no one is thinking rationally when they decide to have kids. It is an emotionally driven decision. It never makes logical sense to have kids. They ruin everything. I say those things somewhat jokingly. At 18 I would have said that I wanted kids, but I had no idea what I was saying. I had no idea I could love a little human so much, so quickly. Being a dad continues to stretch every notion I have about love and about the potential for our human hearts to be transformed for God’s good purposes. From day one my heart was ripped from its comfortable cage as I watched Henry get loaded into an ambulance bound for the NICU. That first week permanently ruined my tear ducts, making me much weepier than 18 year old Doug, and that is saying something. I love my boys, and I love being a dad. Most days they reveal the best and worst in me as they test the bounds of my selflessness, which are regrettably still quite limited.
Henry- At 2 you are already one of my best buds. On any given day I would rather hang out with you than 99.9% of the other human beings on the planet. I am trying to give you my best, but I know I will fall short. I hope when you are old enough to understand my shortcomings that you are willing to forgive me. I pray that the Lord will use your strong will, your sense of humor and your intelligence (along with your other positive qualities) to do great things.
Jack- At 2 months I am just getting to know you. I already love everything I know about you. You are sweet and very pleasant to be around. You have so much to learn, and I hope to help you learn all the most important stuff. Whenever you start talking, I want you to know that I am up for talking about anything. I am so excited to learn more about who you are and I just can’t wait for all of the fun stuff we are going to get to do together.
I have always loved my family, but the on-going expansion of my family and Danae’s has been yet another joy I could’ve never imagined. In-laws, nieces, nephews, and parents becoming “grands” make family something even more precious to me, and in every one of those categories I am incredibly blessed. No matter what the circumstances it is so comforting to know that my family members are in my corner.
[Friends not pictured because I don't have a picture of ALL of them together and I didn't want to leave anyone out- also I realize I left out a lot of family members in the picture....get off my back it's my birthday.]
At the risk of driving my point into the ground I should also point out that my friends are the best in the world. I have come to believe that the friendships Danae and I have been blessed with are quite rare and I hope I never take those friends for granted. My friends challenge me to be a better person, they encourage me, and they take good care of me and my family. I hope that I have done my part in contributing to the great network of care and love, of which we have reaped such benefits.
I have been a so-called adult for 10 years, but I feel that there is still much to learn (something 18 year old Doug probably did not appreciate). In recent years I have come to value peace, perseverance and patience more than I did in my youth and I can’t wait to see how the Lord will use my reflections on those things to shape my character.
If you made it this far in this post I’ll leave you with the valediction I always used on my Xanga page at age 18…
Love to you and everyone you love,