Graduation weekend was jam packed with excitement and flurry. My sister and her baby flew from KY. Then the grandparents arrived from NC. Friends helped me set up the back yard for a gathering of the village it took to raise this child.
Friends, neighbors and family all mingled together on a sunny June afternoon. There was plenty of fun and silliness.
The graduate was especially proud of his bragging wall.
Just before the completion of the event, his dad called him over to a shady spot and asked him to kneel.
Dad then asked for the attention of the crowd and invited them to witness a rite of passage:
There are men in their 20s, 30s, 40s and older who still behave like boys because no one ever told them they were men. Being a man is more than celebrating 18 birthdays or walking across a stage to shake a hand and get a diploma. Those are both moments of celebration but they do not make you a man.
A man is someone who looks out for the interests of others before himself. A man does what he says he is going to do. A man doesn’t make excuses but takes responsibility.
When I was in high school, I named the apostle Paul as the person I would most like to meet. He wrote most of the New Testament and made a huge transition in his life, defying all expectations. As a young teenager in my church, I learned about John Wesley whose heart was “strangely warmed” when he accepted Christ. When I met your dad, I was happy with his choice of names for his first born son which was already picked out, whether or not I was the mother. “Paul Wesley.”
You are the person who made us a family. You made me a mom (took your sweet time with it) and you are still making me into a better mom every day. You are a natural leader. People listen to you. You have integrity. People trust you. You are charming. People want to be around you.
You remind me of your hero Lionel Messi. With your short statue comes a unique speed and relentless attack on the soccer field. As Maradona gushed of Messi, “He’s a leader and is offering lessons in beautiful football. He has something different to any other player in the world.” Besides the laughs we share together, watching you play is one of my most favorite times to be your Mom. Although soccer is your passion, I see every area of your life shine—on and off the field. This excites me the most.
The verse that I want to share with you is one that we have talked about many times.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
May this verse help you remember that you don’t have to figure out your whole path by yourself. You can relax knowing God directs your perfect future as you submit to Him and build your relationship with Him. There is always a place for you at His table and at ours.
Always remember what I believe to be true about who you are:
You are more than your skill. You are more than your desires or plans.
You are loved, cherished, appreciated, admired, and you have what it takes.
I love you & I am proud of you.
While you remain on your knees, remember…
We don’t know exactly what kind of man you will become. The choices we have made for you as you grew up we now release to you. The choices you make from this point forward will continue to create the man you choose to become. You can always count on us to love you unconditionally, no matter what choices you make. We are proud of you.
By the authority given to me by God, as your father, (draw sword) you knelt this day, June 15, 2013 a boy, but you stand a man.
After the manhood ceremony, Aunt Laura presented him with his “first laundry.”
A memory blanket made from his old T-shirts, jackets and jerseys from childhood as well as his varsity letters.
He was blown away and has slept with it every night since.
“If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.