God has added another year in your life — what a wonderful blessing!
I always remember when you were just a few months old. I was carrying you in my arms, and you were looking at me. Your eyes were fixed at my eyes, as if you were telling me something serious, your eyebrows were crossed, perhaps wondering who was that skinny young man who was carrying you. There were no words to describe that positive emotion that I felt that moment.
Now, look at you, you’ve grown so much. You are now carrying your own son in your arms. I wish, you will become a great father to him, far greater than I was a father to you. I know you will also love him more than I have loved you.
All people get old everyday, every month, every year. We celebrate it yearly — on our birthdays. We all get old. But only some of us — a significantly fewer of us — really grow old. What’s the difference? You may ask. Getting old is about aging; growing old is about getting better in all dimensions of our personhood.
Getting old is physically automatic. You don’t have to do anything. In fact, even if you deliberately don’t do anything, you still get old, just much faster. Without effort, you are aging, you are consuming time, you are adding years to your life.
But growing old is never automatic. It needs effort. You have to be intentional. You need to act. You need to do something.
To grow means to become better. That means, to become stronger in our character, deeper in our faith, having healthier body, sharper mind, more loving heart. To constantly grow, means to constantly improve.
I’ve seen people who have gotten old but never did grow. Their skin became wrinkled, got poorer eyesight, weaker bones, and bald head. But they remain childish, immature, selfish, arrogant, and remained closed eyes. I’m sure, you have seen plenty of those people too.
I know you are not like them. And you won’t be like them. I taught you the importance of growing. I guided you in the slow process of growing. Now it’s your turn to teach your son to grow. Make him attracted to the process of growing. Train him to never stop discovering life, to always be excited to learn new things, and to improve the things he has already learned. “Train him up in the way he should go. And when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Did you know that your effectiveness as a parent is based primarily in your ability to grow as a person? And did you know that, that is the most common misconceptions among many parents — they thought that parenting is about them facilitating their children’s growth, and that’s it. I’ve known a lot of parents who thought that their role as parents is to teach; and that their children’s role is to learn from them.
But no, that’s not complete.
Parenting is about both the parents and their child growing together in sweet harmony.
When I became a father, I didn’t stop growing. Instead, I became more interested growing myself. Observe how different I am now, compared to when you were still in elementary school. Even some of my beliefs in parenting have changed through the years. I even learned a lot of things from you.
Many parents I know, think that it’s them teaching their children to learn. And their children doing everything they can to learn from their parents. But actually, parents can learn a lot of things from their children too. As a father, I remember how I learned from you that if I listened carefully to what you were saying, I would discover an amazing point of view — something that’s different from mine, but is equally reasonable and acceptable.
Now that you are a father too, double your effort to grow. Grow together with your son, and with your wife. Grow as a family. Observe your son carefully. Learn from him. Discover life through his innocent little eyes. Listen to humanity through his tiny voice. Allow him to grow your heart bigger, stronger, and more enduring.
As your little one grows, he will teach you how to love unconditionally. He will teach you to be more patient, to listen empathically, to be more aware of your own emotion. Allow him. Open your mind wider. Be ready. I promise you, if you are intentional in your personal growth, it will be much easier to learn; and if you’re intentional in your parenting, you will learn as much as your little one will. And the more you grow as a father, the more you will be able to carry your responsibility as a parent.
Again, happy happy birthday son!
God bless you and your family!