In part, this message is for each of us who must be called parents. Each who must raise others to become fulfilled in the directions their lives are to undertake. But, it also remains a personal message to my son. I would be pleased to have you receive it as humbly intended.
It wasn’t so many years ago that my son and his mother were having a bit of an argument. He made the mistake of stating that he didn’t want to go on an LDS Church mission. To which his mother took great umbrage. Turning to me, she expected more support for her position. I spoke differently; counseling them both that it should be ‘his’ decision.
Over the years I maintained the same posture. I noted the same positions – trying to not bring up the question of his church mission as anything other than ‘his’ decision. Occasionally, he would approach me about my decision not chosen to serve – being a convert to the church. Rather, I had married a woman who promised an eternal marriage.
The question one might ask would be why I did not ‘lay down’ my expectations of him?
In my life, I had completed many tasks and seeming improbable quests on the basis of what people told me could not be done. Likewise, my resistance to things others demanded also became a resolve. One that hardened my heart against doing that which I felt was improperly demanded, or imposed, upon me.
Okay, so my son is not me. He may have reacted differently. But ‘we,’ as fathers are charged with helping our sons to become men. In that, they have many decisions to make that will be made when we are absent their presence. Some good; and, maybe some not so good.
I, myself, did not feel I was the best example sometimes. In fact, at certain things I often felt I had failed miserably. Then came the talk about protecting his name, his character. The legacy given by his great-grandfather. Then talks about what ‘others’ could do to destroy a reputation, no matter the truth. Talks about why he decided to ‘group date,’ rather than ‘single date.’
I spoke to him of what was, and what would be said of me. Even by him.
Throughout life, he was able to see both good and bad. Seeing times when the Lord directed me to assist others. To be a part of serving others. Even as a fallible man.
I know that it was hard for him to walk in my footsteps as a martial artist. But I sought for him to know strength in many perspectives. I tried to explain why I chose to assist people in matters of law and tax. Making choices that could produce positive and negative outcomes. Future choices he would have to make – based upon his own mindset. Upon his personal relationship with God.
Today, his achievements have been many. Graduating Magna Cum Laude from law school, Neal’s personal stature as a young attorney remains above reproach. The time he has chosen to give back to low income families and those with tax and lien issues. His growing family close and dear.
With all this completed, you have but one more challenge.
Neal, your final challenge requires more strength of character than most men accept. It must be in how you remain that example … for the rest of your life. A truth found in constant personal introspection. For, no matter how direct and true your life may be, there will always be those who seek to destroy that virtue.
Today, December 15th, on the anniversary of your birth; and, though you may doubt the truth of this admonition, I would leave you with this teaching:
While Jesus was being questioned of the wrongs he had supposedly done, he refused to answer.
Luke 23:9 “Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.”
Jesus’ refusal to defend Himself showed true humility. He also failed to bring harsh words against those who would use Him for their evil purposes. Even for the man who had killed his friend who was one of the greatest of prophets (Mt. 11:11).
This humble nature comes from obedience to the Father. There is no exemption for anyone or anything from coming under the Lordship of Jesus. Jesus remains above all the ills the world might bring to each of us as our trial: sickness, poverty, depression, anger – everything, and everyone, must bow its knee to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
And if every man, angel, and demon will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord, then those remaining to deny it by their actions will still be brought into submission.
My son, it matters not what people of the world have to say about your life, as long as the Lord will stand for you in the last days and proclaim your virtue. By your choice, you can choose to continue doing all that he requires. Or, choose another path.
By your example, so shall your children follow. May they be found in each step of your positive pathways. And may Heaven’s Book be filled with your good works. Remembering those in need. Understanding and assisting those closest to you (who have need), but still remain silent. Seeking to assist those whose load could have been lightened by your fellowship. Especially at home.
Remember this: The people who truly know you, and maintain their love for you, will always know the truth. No matter what others may say.
Happy Birthday, Neal!
There is no greater pride than that which I hold within me than for the
promises that you have kept to your Father in Heaven.
Merry Christmas, to you and your family, my dear son.