Celebrating the “Boy”

My son turned 16 yesterday.

Until he was born, we chose not to find out if we were having a boy or girl. All of our family members were certain that he was going to be a girl. We knew otherwise.

When we was born, we chose the name “Ruben” not knowing that the Hebrew definition for this was “behold a son.”

During my years as a youth pastor, I often challenged parents that our job was not to impose our will upon our kids, but to create space that allows them to discover God’s will for them. After a decade and half of being a father, I think I’m starting to understand what I meant by that.

I’ve parented Ruben like most would treat a firstborn child. I pushed him a little harder, got a bit more frustrated when I felt he wasn’t living up to his potential. After all, firstborns become politicians and astronauts and CEO’s. What I haven’t always been good at realizing is that Ruben isn’t a statistic. What makes him unique and set apart from every other firstborn is that no one else is him.

We began a tradition for both of our children that started in the delivery room at the hospital. Each year, on their birthday, we follow them around with an old Super8 camcorder. We’ve accumulated hours of footage, documenting their growth, their personalities, their likes. As I go back to watch those tapes, I am amazed at the unfolding story of who my kids are becoming.

I watched my son this week as he interacted with his friends, his sister…us. Reality hit me that through the years while I was busy trying to impose my will upon him, God was at work revealing His will, His hopes, His passions for Ruben. I am so glad that as much as I love him, God loves Ruben even more and more than makes up for my parental shortcomings.

I don’t know yet exactly what he will do with his life. But, who Ruben is has started to come clearly into focus. And I love who he is becoming.

I love it because who he is will be far more important and have a farther-reaching role in his life than anything he could ever do.

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