Baby girl, I love you SOOO very much, and I want you to know that YOU, in a special way, are literally a dream come true! You are one of those "delayed gratification" gifts that God plans for us so our appreciation can be at its height. Mommy and me will teach you more about that as you get older. Let me explain why you are a special dream come true...
I'll be writing you many letters over the course of your life, most on nice paper and that beautifully timeless feel of real effort that things online sometimes lack, but today I wanted to grab the moment and write to you the immediate contents, the raw emotion and sheer power, of my love for you. I am floored by God's rich, extravagant love for me, for us, in times like these. That He would love me this much--enough to bless me with the daughter my heart has yearned for, even before I knew what the feeling was--is so overwhelming! You deserve to know how deeply that love has affected me, and how much I desire that you, too, would come to know His great love for you!
I'm choosing to do it publicly here so maybe, if God wills, it can be an encouragement to other fathers, would-be fathers, or daughters in all walks of life. But also because I just finished watching two videos (the ones below) and cried like a baby as I watched, so this is a place where I can share both of them with others. But I don't want the wide-net-action here to pull away from why I'm writing it in the first place.
I am writing to YOU because you are my beloved baby girl and I love you more than you could possibly imagine! Don't worry if you forget that part--I'll remind you frequently.
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In this first video (Casting Crown's Just Another Birthday), I see the tragedy behind so many families today, where a parent is out of the picture. Her father's absence leads to struggles in her life that she should never have had to go through. In this case, the video makes it clear that the father is uninvolved in his daughter's life. This hurts her and clearly affects her development and her decisions.
I can imagine.
No. I don't really have to imagine. I know the girls personally who have been so negatively hurt by their absentee fathers (or mothers). And it breaks my heart. Literally.
You know what? You're not always going to agree with our decisions for you. They may get in the way of what you want or think is best. I'm asking you to trust us. As your parents, we have a responsibility before God to raise you--that's not an easy task, and we don't take it lightly. So as your parents, when you're under our care we are your Mom and Dad, not your friends. You'll learn that your friends will often go along with your thoughts or plans, they want to have fun with you, and there won't be many who will stand up to you when needed. We will. We will lovingly guide and teach, and we'll learn from you in the process. But until you're on your own, out from under the care and protection of our roof, life will demand that we make hard decisions that may upset you. We're okay with that, because we love you more than anyone else in this world--yes, your friends included! We want the absolute best for you, and sometimes you're just going to have to trust that when it seems we're clueless to you. Mommy and Daddy are not perfect, and we need your help to be the best we can be. I will certainly make mistakes in being your Daddy, and I can assure you they will hurt me more than they hurt you. I give you permission to hold me accountable for the way Mommy and Daddy raise you. We'll do our best, but we need you to help us.
And since our society seems to have dads more frequently leaving their families to selfishly pursue their own desires, I am asking you to keep an eye out for your Daddy. If you think I am starting to pull away from you or your brother, Jace, or from Mommy, I want you to call me on it. Be strong about it. Call it like you see it. If you speak what you sense, it's either going to wake me up from my apathy or be a message from you, straight from the heart of God, that I need to get my act together. I welcome that. I need God, and I need my family. With you and me in this together, you'll never have to wonder where I am on your birthday, and whether or not I still love you. I DO love you, and I am here for you!!
In this second video (Shane & Shane's The One You Need), these guys sing (and rip out) my very heart for you. Unfortunately I can't imbed the video here so you need to click on the link to watch it, but the video to the right is the guys sharing why they wrote this song. I agree with everything they say and hope you'll also hear my voice in what they say. As you grow as a little girl, and later as a woman, I need you to know that I will also be growing as a man and as your Daddy. As they sing, I will inevitably let you down sometimes, not because I want to hurt you or don't care, but because of the differences we have in expectations and experiences and our points of view.
Baby Girl, I will always be your Daddy and I will be here for you when you need me until my time on earth is through. By that time, your mother and I pray that we will have instilled in you the passions for learning and growth, and especially for Jesus so that not even death will separate us forever.
We love you, Chàris Eliana Clinkscales!
And yes, I did actually cry tears as I watched the videos and thought about you. I blame Couvade Syndrome.