I love you.

Dear Liam,

I love you. While that phrase is certainly true, I know it's also difficult to decode. There's an Irish band I like, named Snow Patrol, and their most famous hit is "Chasing Cars." In it, there's a line which I always thought perfectly described the tension within the phrase "I love you." The lyric is: "I don't quite know/ How to say/ How I feel/ Those three words/ Are said too much/ They're not enough." Telling you I love you isn't enough. Yet I don't quite know how to say how I feel, and I find myself stumbling over my words when I'm around you. Somehow I've always seemed to do better with words when they're in written form, so I created this page for you. I hope it helps tell you a love story. I hope these letters show you how much I love you in the midst of my extreme brokenness. I hope the words tell a story of a flawed, imperfect father who wants the best for his son, even if he fails at being a good dad over and over again. I hope my candid words help you better understand your own genetics and make sense of your self.

I want to know you fully. In my life, I've been scared of being fully known because I was afraid if I was fully known, I wouldn't be fully loved. I thought who I am was unlovable, so I had to be someone else in order to be loved. I hid behind the persona I thought people would be able to love, and love it they did. Yet the more they loved that persona, the less loved I genuinely felt. I eventually lost sight of myself, had difficulty distinguishing between the persona and myself, leading to a devastating breakdown.

My favorite author, Brennan Manning, had a similar struggle, and he called his persona "the impostor." In his book Abba's Child, Manning writes of the impostor: "The impostor is the classic codependent. To gain acceptance and approval, the false self suppresses or camouflages feelings, making emotional honesty impossible. Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us. The impostor's life becomes a perpetual roller coaster ride of elation and depression." I've been on that roller coaster, and while it can often be exhilarating, it always derails and the ride becomes a train wreck.

You don't need to put forth a persona, an impostor, to be loved or accepted by me. I will always love you, and I will always want to be in relationship with you. No matter what. We will disagree, that is certain. You will make decisions I don't support. Your choices will not always be the choices I would've made for you. Yet not a single one of those beliefs, choices, or decisions will keep me from wanting to be with you. As an added bonus, I want you to know my perspective is not always right (heck, I don't even know if my perspective is right a majority of the time!). That means there may be times when you and I disagree at first, but then I see where you're coming from and change my own opinion. While I can't guarantee that will always be the case (and that's okay - agreement is not a prerequisite for love and a relationship!), I can guarantee that I will ALWAYS hear you out. I won't assume I'm right; I'll value your thoughts on the matter. Just because I'm your father, just because I'm older than you, doesn't mean my perspective will always be more wise than yours. You have your mother's and my genes, so I know you are going to be one of the most intelligent people on the planet! I may be your dad, but I am always open to learning from you.

Will you please share with me? Share your thoughts, your dreams, your feelings, your perspective, your desires, your grandiose ideas. I want to hear them. And know they will never be rejected, and you will never be rejected. We may disagree, or you may change my perspective. Yet no matter what, I always want to hear what you have to say. I value your character, I value your heart, I value your unique perspective, and I value your story. I want you to be both fully known and fully loved.

The song I mentioned earlier, Chasing Cars, goes on to say: "Forget what we're told/ Before we get too old/ Show me a garden that's bursting into life. Let's waste time/ Chasing cars/ Around our heads. I need your grace/ To remind me/ To find my own. If I lay here/ If I just lay here/ Would you lie with me and just forget the world?" No matter what happens, no matter how tough life gets, you can always just hang out with me and forget the world. We can chase the ideas in our heads, share a couple of beers, and just forget the world.

I love you, God loves you, and you've got what it takes.

Love,
Dad



Your first milkshake at Shake Shack! Yum.


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