From a Dad’s Heart
By Chris Rathbone
Our oldest son Gabriel is a High School Senior this year. It just doesn’t seem possible that this could be happening. Like most parents that have a senior, the time has passed by so quickly. Our parents tried to warn us, but we are so busy “raising” them we don’t listen as we should. All too often we didn’t take time to cherish what we had when our kids were little.
Our county has a Facebook page to “adopt” a senior. The point is to send encouraging letters, messages, and even gifts to the senior someone chooses to adopt. Because this year’s seniors didn’t get to do many of the events that seniors usually get to enjoy, many are trying to help and encourage them in different ways. This year our seniors will have a “drive-in” graduation ceremony so each one can be honored for their hard work, dedication, and accomplishment.
For the most part, we have handled this chapter in life pretty well. I and Michelle have had many conversations about how things are gonna change for our family during this time. Both of our boys are full-fledged teenagers and the days of always wanting to hang out with Dad and Mom are over! Sure, we do some things together but it sure isn’t like it was when they were younger. Their interests have changed and as a dad it is sometimes hard to find activities that keep their attention, so to speak. You parents know what I’m talking about. Gabe has been busy with finishing up his high school classes, getting things ready for college, working his job, and hanging out with buddies and there’s not a lot of time left over for poor ol’ dad! It was the same way with me when I was a teenager.
The other day as I was checking out the comments on the Facebook page for seniors and I came across a picture that one of Gabe’s teachers had posted. It was a picture of him in 5th grade, standing in front of a school project that we had helped him put together. All of a sudden it dawned on me, that Gabe was no longer that little boy that needed help with his work. My heart sank. Even though deep down we know this, often our hearts still think of our children as little and dependent on our parents. When I look at my son, there’s not a little kid there anymore, but a young man……a young man who has grown to be independent, strong, and intelligent. A young man who doesn’t have to depend on his dad much at all anymore. He has plans and dreams for the future that is his, not anyone else’s.
For years I’ve told Michelle that hopefully, we are preparing our boys to become men. There have been times I got it right and sometimes I got it wrong. Hopefully, we’ve prepared our children to face the future. A future that will give them many choices and many paths which they can follow. One thing I’ve always tried to instill in my boys is to always remember and follow God’s plan for their lives. God will open doors and He will close doors, but above all, He has their best interest in mind because He loves them.
My prayer for Gabe has always been for him to recognize the Lord’s plan above all. That whatever career path he takes, he will serve Jesus through it all. Because that is all that will matter in eternity.
Gabe, I’m proud and thankful that God chose us to be your parents. We are so proud of the young man you have become. You have worked hard and diligent to get where you are now, and the future is yours for the taking! In my heart when I look at you, I still remember you as a boy, always laughing and full of life. Now you have become a young man and that life is still shining through for all of us to see. My prayer and hope for you are to find God’s path for your life and follow Him. He loves you unconditionally and wants His best for your life. You’re the best Gabe in the whole wide world!
Even though you’ve grown strong, intelligent, and independent, just remember that when and if you come to a time in life that you need your dad, I’m always here. We love you and are so proud to be your parents.
Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church.