Dear 17-year-old Me,
Let’s talk about your Dad. If you listed out your relationships by order of priority, I’m confident your dad wouldn’t land in the place he deserves—which is somewhere at the top of the list. When you have a dad like yours—one who faithfully provides and cares for his family, a godly leader who takes the time to make you feel special—it’s easy to assume that this is just the way dads are. It’s easy to dismiss your dad as the constant he is, and turn your full attention to the otherpeople on your list—and to the important matter of who will be where on Friday night.
Because you have your head down and your gaze locked on peer relationships, you’re missing the scenery. You don’t realize yet who God designed you to be, and how you fit into this beautiful world. Your dad wants to show you that—to lift your chin and help you get your bearings.
At seventeen, you’ll be tempted to brush him aside and grab the car keys. It will be easy to look through your dad and not really see him for who he is—especially when you disagree with him.
There will be this one summer day, when your dad makes you stay home from a trip with your friend Jackie and her family because you were rude and disrespectful to your mom. You’ll be angry and resentful and you’ll sulk all day. But somewhere, in the part of your heart that is currently closed to the public (and even yourself), you’ll be thankful. You’ll be glad that you have a dad who loves you enough to hold you accountable and give consequences.
Over the next decade, you’ll learn that you were wrong: Not every dad is
like yours. Many dads wouldn’t jump into a river
to retrieve what you dropped. Not all dads would cheerfully answer the phone at 2 a.m. and help you fix your frozen computer, so you can print your paper, due at 8 a.m. Not many dads would chase you on thehighway
for 100 miles because you left something important behind. And very few dads would hop on a plane to Virginia just because they know you’re at a spiritual crossroads and they want to help you find your way.
I think you’re kind of oblivious to how important your dad is to you. You have no idea, at seventeen, what it will feel like to show him the classroom where you teach, or introduce him to the man you’ve fallen in love with. You don’t know the thrill of seeing him help your little boy build something with ‘Papaw’. You don’t know the joy of having your husband enjoy and respect your dad just as much as you do, and want his advice on big decisions, as well as little ones.
You have no idea how much you’ll need your dad in the coming decades—how you’ll run to him for hope and confidence and guidance.
When God gave you your dad, he gave you a gift. He gave you a foundation and a launching pad. He gave you a picture of what ‘Father’ means. Don’t neglect this gift; enjoy it! And don’t merely appreciate the things your dad provides for you. Enjoy him. Let him lift your chin, look him in the eye, and say, “Thank you, Daddy!”
Other posts in this series: