Friday, March 16, 2007

To My Son

Happy Birthday!

You are sixteen today. It is a milestone and a time to look back and to look forward.

Looking back, you can see that you have grown into a young man and you have grown very tall (I wonder where that comes from.) You can remember many good times and times you would rather forget.

There is a saying that says, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” That means at least two things to us. One is history in general. We can read of the mistakes that others have made and try to avoid them ourselves. The other is learning from our own past and the mistakes we have made.

I hope you can look at my life and see some things to be avoided. You know a little of my past and I would welcome your questions regarding any of those things as well as other things you may not know about.

My mother died when I was your age. She had been very ill for quite some time before that. It was also during that time that I was making my decent into the world of drugs and alcohol. I had no idea where these things were leading but I loved them. I spent the next two years keeping as stoned as possible. I did whatever was necessary even if it meant stealing from my own family.

Last Saturday, I was at Red Rocks. In the visitors center there was a wall with a listing of the concerts that had been held there. I looked for the year, 1971, when I was sixteen. Down the list I went to June 10. There it was – Jethro Tull. That was the name of a band. It was one of my favorites. I would be sixteen in a month. I was at one of the most awesome concerts of all time: Jethro Tull under the stars at Red Rocks!

My friend drove us there. We arrived early in the afternoon and sat in the car smoking pot. We wandered around and climbed on the rocks. Finally, evening arrived. We sat close to the top. The concert was sold out and a thousand people or so were hanging out on a hill behind the amphitheatre. They decided to rush the SWAT team who was keeping them out of the concert. Soon the place was engulfed in tear gas. We pulled a blanket over our heads but it did little. All the while, the concert was going on. Finally, the tear gas cleared. We smoked more pot and had the time of our lives.

That was the last rock concert at Red Rocks for many years because of the riot. Cars were turned over and burned, people ended up in the hospital. But I was there!

I remember the next day as vivid as the one before. It was a day of an incredible sinking feeling of something. I was down and bummed out. I don’t think I have ever felt more empty in my life than that day. The most incredible experience of my life left me empty. It would take two years for that hole to be filled.

Finally, two years later I became a Christian. I had been very religious before that. I went to Mass every week and did all the things I needed to do to keep out of hell. What a relief once Jesus forgave me and showed me that there was more to life than Jethro Tull and drugs. So I know all about religion and have no use for it.

I would hope much better for you my son. I would hate for you to have to experience what I did, whatever form it may take. I would hope that my history would show that the world will never satisfy. It makes many promises but in the end delivers just pain and misery.

Look back into your own life too and see the things you need to avoid. Identify your weak areas and endeavor to make them strong. Find out what pushes you over the edge and then try to avoid getting to that point. Learn from the times that you have realized that sin brings pain and misery.

Looking forward, you have the rest of your life. It is a gift from God. What will you do with it? The decisions you make today will affect your future for good or bad. Learn from history; learn from others who have done good and bad.

Remember that the devil is real. Know that his mission is to steal, to kill and to destroy. That is the plan he has for you. He would like to have a part in messing up your life. Don’t be fooled by the traps he sets; they will look good on the outside but the reality is something else.

Remember this: For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? There is only one success that really matters.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1Jn 2:15-17) This covers about everything. The desires of our bodies, what we see with our eyes and the things we may accumulate. If we are not right with God then they will never satisfy. It becomes an endless search. If we do the will of God, there will be satisfaction forever.

Someday when you have a son, you will know how much I love you. I’m very proud to be your dad. I pray for you daily that you will experience God’s best.

Looking forward to a good future,

Dad

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