“Who is the most influential person in your life?” the interview question often goes. That question is easy for me to answer, darling, because it’s you.
Five years ago you changed my life more than any other single person has and I couldn’t be more grateful. I love that you and I share a special day—your birthday and my “momiversary,” when my world was turned up-side down in the best possible way. But really, it’s your day, son. And I couldn’t be more proud of the boy you have become in these short, five years.
When you were born we named you Levi because it means “joined” and we imagined you one day being a man who would connect people to God. In the bible, Levi was the head of the priestly tribe, whose task it was to connect people to God and God to people. Dad and I see this kind of role not as a huge responsibility, but as an unbelievable privilege. There is a creativity involved, a sense of the prophetic, a boldness, a heart motivated by reconciliation and hope, and a tender sensitivity before the Lord and people as you learn to listen and then respond with compassion, as Jesus always did. The world doesn’t need more televangelists or loud preachers; the world needs love and kindness and people to demonstrate what the spirit of God looks on the earth in ordinary people bent on loving each other well.
What we hoped you would someday become, you already are. You’ve spurred Dad and I (and many others) to connect with God in ways we never saw coming. Thank you for that, Levi—a thousand thank yous.
Dad and I have often reeled with amazement at the way you already see the world—so much compassion and creativity rolled up within one person. You are acutely aware of justice, always advocating for the one who’s left out, quick to generosity, and bighearted in your affections.
Many times throughout the last five years I’ve wondered if I’m parenting you as well as I could be. I’ve had many moments of second-guessing myself or feeling deflated for not living up to my own expectations, but you are teaching me that love doesn’t base itself on performance. I could never love you any more or any less than I already do—impossible. And your love for me feels that way, too. I’ve never felt less loved by you, even when I’ve lost my temper or been flippant with my words. When I’ve offered apologies you’ve never hesitated to offer forgiveness and let me smoother you with kisses as much as my bruised heart needed to. You’re an amazing kid. Have I said that already?
And on that note, little dude, thank you for letting me call you “my baby.” You have no idea the joy it brings me to not only be able to call you that, but to have you wear that name with pride. “My baby, my mama” back-and-forths are one of my very favorite of the silly little games we sometimes play. You’ll always be my baby—the boy who made me a mama—holding a place in my heart that is sacred to me.
I could go on and on with the ways you are impressing me lately: the way you feel music and move your whole body with complete abandon, your athletic ability and the way you seem to naturally excel at nearly anything you do, your sense of humor, the way you see detail, your impassioned prayers, the way you care for Judah, your love of story—both hearing and telling—or your dashing good looks. But really what impresses me most about you, dear boy, is the way you love so well. It’s what the world needs, it’s what I need. I couldn’t be more grateful or more proud.
Happy birthday, Lionheart.
Love you for always, my baby you’ll be.
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Remember when we used to slip notes to one another in class? Love Notes is my grown up version of that. It’s personal, it’s super informal, and it’s part of the way we grow our friendship. (You’ll pass one back, right?) // More sister-speak than a blog post, expect Love Notes to slip into your inbox monthly(ish) with personal thoughts about books, parenting, faith, women’s issues, creativity, tiny house living, the writer’s life, travel, social justice and missions initiatives, and you-name-it. It’s like a newsletter, but awesomer. ;) Oh, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming projects, such as the books I may or may not be working on behind the scenes.
XOXO, Adriel sign up for Love Notes here>>>