Tonight, our president will be addressing the nation. The four of us here at home will hop into our jams, grab our BOWs (Blankets of Wonder) and hunker down to hear his speech. He’s going to talk to us live and in prime time about the State of the Union.
Before he takes the stage, I thought I’d slip in today and give you my own State of the Union address. As the four sons that God has hand picked and placed in our family unit, I think you deserve this update. I’d like you to know, boys, that the State of our Union…
In August, your dad and I will have been married for 32 years. In that 32 years, we have gone through some real hell and high water. We moved out of state so dad could go to school. We left with one boy and a small, beige Escort. Three years later, we came back with two boys, a Corolla, school loans, and no money. But we got that degree, yes, amen.
Then came more years of poverty. We were rocked by a church conflagration (hurt like fire, third-degree burns). Dad started a business. I started a career. We bought and sold houses, ending up here on The Three where you guys jumped and chased and ran and wriggled and fought and weeded and fussed and put up tents and left them up for the whole, entire summer ’til the grass was all dead, brown, and tent-shaped. All the while, you ate us out of house and home and kept growing and wrestling and smearing the walls, and we loved it.
We loved it because you were ours, and we were grateful.
In the early years (you know this because we’ve talked about it), we parented out of legalism. Dad will tell you he was too angry. Mom will tell you she was too fearful, and that fear manifested itself in control. We both admit that we used shame far too often, we both found the grace to repent, and you’ve forgiven. Love, “someone” said, covers a multitude of sins, and we know it, guys, don’t we? We sure know it.
There are times when Dad really feels the sting of regret, and I see that he’s suffering. So what I always tell him is this, “Your sons are experiencing something that many people will never see; that being, they are watching a parent humble himself, repent, seek forgiveness, and change! Your boys are watching redemption. You are changing the course of generations, hon, and that is such a powerful thing.”
You’re witnessing redemption, a legacy for sure. But our union, boys…
From the first time that I met your dad, I knew he was a very passionate person. He fell in love with the girl from the Plains almost at first sight, and he pursued her with that hot, burning love. I’m talking about his whole heart. As I say about him now, “He does everything hard.” Full speed, all or nothing, 110%. That’s your dad.
Your father is the person who showed me in real time, boots on the ground, how unconditional love looks. How it sounds. How it acts. How it works. Once when we were seeking wisdom from a person we both trusted, your dad said to him, “How can I help her,” meaning me. And that gentleman looked him square in the face and said, “Well, since you asked, I am going to tell you. It looks like this, ‘And He gave Himself up.’”
Boys, looking back, I know that your dad had already been doing that, but he took those words to heart that day. In the middle of my own raging pain, that man died to himself in a way I’d never seen, and he devoted himself to my healing. He still is, and your mom is so grateful.
In our family, we’ve experienced the devastation and the fallout of divorce. You know firsthand what it does, not just to the two, but to the ‘all.’ Our pastor said once that divorce comes from the word ‘hamas,’ and that ‘hamas’ actually means violence. We know it’s true. The destruction of a marriage is a violent and painful thing, isn’t it?
Guys, the flip side of that coin is that staying together while giving each other hell is not a virtue, either. You need to know that. (Sometimes, I wonder if a divorce is simply more honest, but that’s a discussion we can have over the homemade pizza that you all love when you come home.) Regardless, we all have a choice, and you don’t have to settle for mediocre.
What you can know today is that your dad and I don’t just love each other. We really like each other! There’s a difference, and that “liking” is key. We liked each other before you were born. We like each other in the middle of all the raising, and we will like each other, still, once you’re all grown and gone. And that’s a gift.
It’s a gift to us, and it’s a gift to you. Before there was you, there was us. After you, there will still, God willing, be us.
We want you to go out into the world and do your “thing.” Find your own wives. Make your own babies. Follow your dreams. Die to self. Lift them up.
Fight for your families, you four shining lights upon a hill, and know that your dad and I have your backs. Together.
On this Tuesday morning, February 5th in the year of our Lord 2019, the state of our union is strong. May God keep you.
With all my love,