One day you will read this letter and have a sense of what was in my heart on this day that you turn 10.
You've been a part of this family for a full decade. You need all of your fingers on both hands to show your age. It seems like yesterday that we became a family of four. A decade since Daddy held you and we discussed whether Benjamin or Carlisle would be your middle name. Time flies.
Did you know on the same day you entered the world, I had a friend who took the first steps toward facing a destructive addiction? It's been 10 years since he walked toward sobriety and found hope again.
It's funny how life is found in different corners of this world on the exact same day. In a hospital room and at an AA meeting. New life beginning in two very different places, under two different circumstances. One physical, one metaphysical. Both required a painful birth, yet life emerged in both places.
It may seem strange to you, but I count it a blessing that you share your birthday with my friend's own milestone day toward recovery. It reminds me that throughout our lives we are in a process of birth, death, and rebirth.
That's the way of God. Life, and then life again, when it seems death has won. New life from a heart that's been shattered. Rebirth from painful tragedy. Birthdays that celebrate our physical age and our spiritual journey.
Sometimes I wish I could give you a kinder world. A more lovely world that is complete with soft edges and smiling faces at every turn. Cities teeming with life and culture that welcome the refugee and stranger. Streets that are safe to walk down in the broad daylight. Heck, honey, I'd like to give you safe water flowing through the pipes into our home.
There is a lot of pain in this life, Levi. Jesus never promised it any other way. Yet, out of pain life can emerge. Pangs that deliver hope and light and peace, just like labor delivered you into my arms.
I hope, as you continue to grow, you will not fear pain. I hope you will accept struggle as part of the journey, yet I also hope you will not be content to allow the suffering to exist with no fruit. I hope you will embrace the hardships, while looking for ways to bring life to the world around you. I hope you will be a resurrection person wherever you find yourself.
I understand my limitations. I know I can't change the whole world, but I can influence my small corner of the world. I can contribute my part with the hope that life might be brought forth, that life might be better, for those in my path.
You've already made my world better just by being you. I am better because you exist. I'm a better mother; a better listener; a better friend; a better human.
While I long for a kinder world to give you, I realize I can start by being kind, and teaching you to be kind. I can soften this world by being a safe place for you to land no matter what, and I hope you can be that for others. I can give you a more welcoming world by modeling hospitality and nurturing that gift in you too. I can't promise a perfectly safe world, but I work to protect you and other children by standing up to injustice, defending the powerless. Maybe you will work toward that too.
And as I do my part, and as you do yours, we might just be able to usher in a kinder, softer, more welcoming, more secure world. One act of life after another. One moment of resurrection after another. Even when the delivery is painful, because we know life awaits on the other side.
Be brave, my son. Always be brave. And be kind. I think that's Jesus in a nutshell. Brave and kind. I think when we do those things we birth a bit of heaven here on earth. I think we look the most like God.
I know it's customary for the one having the birthday to receive the gifts, and you've already opened your Star Wars themed ones. But today, I recognize I have received a gift too. The gift of helping you (and me) learn to show up, be present, and bring life to this crazy, messed up, beautiful, fantastic world.
I love you, Levi!