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Jeremy Del Rio: A Letter to My Son: Tri-State Voice, June 2004

Dear Judah,

Someone decided long ago to set aside a special day in June to celebrate dads. I'm not sure why they thought I needed to be honored for loving you. Being your dad is the greatest privilege in the world.

You're nearly 3 1/2 now. It seems like yesterday that I cradled you in my arms after lulling you to sleep on my chest. I still try to cuddle you, but you're not as easily convinced anymore. Besides, how big you've gotten! 50 lbs. of solid mass makes you quite the chest compressor.

People tell me all the time that you're my clone, a bona fide mini-me. If only they knew how proud it makes me to hear that. At the same time, it's terribly frightening that someone in the world has my DNA, along with the tendency to reproduce my quirks and frailties. Thankfully, mom's DNA helps to balance that out. That's the beauty of God's system. Two flawed and feeble human beings reproduce a blend of themselves in someone who has a lifetime to live life better than they did.

You're well on your way, already pondering hard questions and sensitive to deep insights. You asked me before Easter this year how Jesus could be God and God's son. When we anticipated your cousin's birth, you nearly burst waiting to "teach Seth about God." Whether praying that "the food is warm," or that you'll be "healthy, strong, and wise," or for Willie and Amber and Sammy, you're already developing an instinct and hunger for prayer, and an awareness of how great and wide is God's love for us.

I love that you are so strong willed. Even at birth, you wanted to enter the world at your pace, on your terms. So what that it took 36 hours! Mommy would have to deal with it (which she did, I might add, with remarkable grace and enduring strength).

If there's only one thing I successfully pass onto you (besides 80% of your physical features, which, frankly, I had no control over) let it be this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbors as yourself. These truths, combined with the strength of your character, have the power to change the world.

They're hardly original thoughts, but there are none better to build your life around. The God who fearfully and wonderfully formed you in your mother's womb deserves every ounce of your love and affection. Throughout life's challenges, He will always provide, never steer you wrong, and empower you to fulfill a destiny that's exceedingly abundantly above all you, or anyone, can think or imagine.

That destiny intimately involves other people. God saw fit that you would be born at a time when over 6 billion of them would share your world (with two added each second!). Leave your mark by loving each and every person your life touches as God first loved you: your future bride, your children, your mommy and daddy; friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and those you meet in passing; those who love you and those who don't; those who spitefully use you. Love attaches no conditions. It expects nothing in return. It gives freely and in abundance, only then to multiply and grow.

As you learn to love others, don't forget that your love for them can go only as deep as your love for yourself. Not narcissistic self-obsession (remind me in a couple of years to explain what "narcissism" is), but rather, an understanding that you are God's handiwork, crafted for His good pleasure. He uniquely designed you to be you alone, comfortable in your own shoes. Be ready to create your own path. Never will there be another Judah Jeremy. Never will someone else impact the lives you will as only you can. Imperfect though you will be, learn to appreciate your weaknesses, as it's in them that you will experience your Creator's greatest strengths.

Judah, your favorite song says, "Come and go with me to my Father's house." Although it was written about your heavenly Father, you challenge me every time I hear you sing it to do everything I can, by God's grace, to create a home here on earth that you esteem and want to share with others. A place of security and love, laughter and nourishment, where you can cry without fear, grow without judgment, and discover without prejudice.

I'm tempted to say that I can't wait to see what your future holds, the joys and challenges that await you, the legacy your life will create. But I'm enjoying you too much right now. All 3 1/2 years of you.

I pray you cherish your life's journey as much as I am.

Love, Dad.

- Jeremy R. Del Rio, Esq., is the co-founder and executive director of Generation Xcel™. He defines his life mission as "empowering people to achieve their dreams and transform their culture and communities." Read his bio here.