We do this thing here when a child turns 13–the rite of passage into a new phase of maturity–where those who love and who have invested thus far write letters to champion the new teen into this next phase of life.
Last year for Parker’s 13th we had many write letters which were presented in an album to him at a special round table filled with men mentors who have been there for him through the years. This week my best friend’s son turned 13–and today he will receive the many letters others wrote to him including ours.
These are 4 things I pray for him in the next phase of life. May we raise kids who will BE THAT FRIEND to another…
Dear one your 13th Birthday…
First may I take a minute to boast that I’ve known about you just about as long as anyone. Bring your mom’s best friend for so many years—I have gotten the inside scoop on your life since the beginning. Which mind you—has also given me the privilege to fiercely love and pray over you since the beginning. I met you for the first time in Northside Hospital 13 years ago—and from that day since I haven’t missed a birthday and I’ve been on the receiving end of the best stories as your mom has proudly shared them. I consider myself blessed to know you your whole life, and I’m proud of the man of God you are.
As I pray about what to bless over you on this special birthday that christens you into the teenage manhood years—I want to challenge you with the word FRIENDSHIP.
I feel like challenging with this word is most fitting because it is the friendship with your mom through decades that brings us here today. I want to challenge you what to look for in a friend—BUT MOST OF ALL WHAT TO BE IN A FRIEND.
There are 4 things I pray you can BE and have one friend (just one Godly, God-fearing, God-finding and man after God’s own heart you need in your life—so never be deceived that popularity with friends and favor with God is the same. Seek to please Him alone dear one.) I am praying you can BECOME AND BE these 4 things to a faithful friend that will stand the same test of time your mom has to me…
1. May you be the steadfast friend. Steadfast can be described as “stick-with-it-ness” and loyal. In your teenage and adult years, may you be the man others find loyal. May others know because of your character where to find you—the first man to stand up when something is right and the last man standing when there is still need. May you be the friend that shows up and can be counted on. May you be the word keeper—the one who keeps his promises even when it’s hard.
2. May you be the kind friend. Kindness is easy when others are kind first or in return. But—may you also be the man who is kind in the face of unkindness. May you be slow to speak, slow to talk (react), and slow to become angry. May your words be seasoned with salt—fresh air and hope to a hurting world. May you be the lifter of hearts pointing to Jesus—and May you listen and hear and speak words of truth as the Holy Spirit places them on your heart. You have always been the kind one—don’t stop. In your steadfastness—keep being the kind one.
3. May you be the wise friend. I pray when you are uncertain which way to go, you are humble enough to wait and seek godly counsel. With your wisdom—stay humble as others see your wisdom. Recognize pride quickly and confess it just as quickly. Take a minute in every moment to ask your Savior is this the way you want me to go—in everything. He is faithful and will always show you. Be brave when everyone goes one way, and God shows you a more narrow path. The wisest decisions will be the “yes” moments where He asks you to trust Him in a different way than everyone else. Remember you will not be alone because He will go before you, with you and behind you.
4. May you be the fun friend. I know this one has you either smiling or surprised to end on this one as the others were quite serious. But never be too serious to lose site of the glorious adventure of the life God has given you. Don’t ever let the world tell you the fun friend is the friend who does the wrong thing, gets in trouble or displeases God. No. Your mom and I have had a lot of fun in life while being steadfast, kind and wise. Following Jesus can be radical, indescribable and silly FUN. So look for the adventure and hold up your hands for an unbelievable ride as you follow Him. Be the friend who says yes to good, clean fun even when you are an old man. Take the trip. Stay up late to see the miracle (like those sand turtles!) and celebrate the touchdown in life.
You, dear one, have been such a good friend to my son. There are many things I see in you both as you both are true to conviction. I am so proud of the man you are becoming—and through your teenage years I will continue to pray for you. It is my prayer that you will have a friend who stands the test of time like I have in your mother. Be that kind of friend to someone else—and pray for the ones who are not. Never fret or worry when there are unkind friends each year because the world has many of those people—just stand true and tall in your steadfastness, kindness, wisdom and joyful fun with your eyes always up to the One who loves you most. Our family is here for you all your days—and if you ever need anything we are always here. We love you and wish you the best birthday as you begin a new stage of life!
(Mr. Richard, Parker, Laney, Frank, Isaac, Zeke and Janie Claire)