You’re unpacked and getting settled now in your dorm room at West Texas A&M. You’re officially now in college. You’ve moved out of the house — mostly. You’re a big girl. “Hers is.”
This has happened so fast. I don’t mean just the past eighteen years — yes, those have flown by — but the past three or four weeks, too. I have so wanted to take you out to dinner over the past few nights, just one dinner, just you and me, Dad and his Little Middle. I’ve wanted to look into your beautiful spotted eyes and tell you face to face, heart to heart, how super proud I am of you. How I do feel really honored and blessed to be your father. How I so enjoy spending time with you. How unbelievably talented and smart I think you are and how unlimited your potential.
I wanted to try to communicate all the things I want so badly for you. Not for me, not for some weird validation of my parenting. But, truly for you. All the learning you’re about to do — you’re going to learn more in the next four years academically and about life and about yourself than in your first eighteen years combined; pay attention. All the new people you’re about to meet — from different places and different backgrounds with different worldviews — learn from them, grow with them, appreciate them. All the parties and social events you’re going to experience — have fun, daughter, have fun; be crazy, be spontaneous, be wild. All the decisions you’re going to make — think big picture and eternal, not right now and temporary.
There’s just not enough time or space to write down everything that’s in my heart today for you. I’m gushing, overflowing, with pride and excitement for you. And, yeah, a little bit of concern in there, too. Not much; just a little.
And I do have some expectation. You know I do.
I expect you to continue living every aspect of your life for our Lord Jesus. I expect every part of you — everything you say and do and think — to reflect his glory. Make decisions that will bring him praise. Interact with people in ways that will bless them in his name. Be kind and respectful, compassionate and caring, loyal and true. Maintain your good character and keep developing your integrity. Stay engaged with a Christian community of faith. Keep praying to our Father, keep following our Lord, keep living in his Spirit, keep growing in his Word.
I expect you to make good grades. Your first priority is your education, not your sorority or your coffee shop, not any parties or boys. Study regularly. Stay organized. Do your homework. Talk to your teachers. Not only is this costing us a lot of money, it’s fairly important to your long range plans for life.
I expect you to remain very much my daughter and a vital member of our family. Call us. Come see us. Keep us posted. Share your ups and downs with us, your victories and defeats. Keep your little sister in the loop. Stay in touch with your big sister. Remain in communication with your mother. And throw me a bone every now and then.
We’ve been preparing for this day for a long time. In a lot of ways, you’re on your own now. In the coming months and years, you’re going to become more independent, more responsible, more able to manage the complications of adult life. But you’re never — NEVER! — going to be alone. Your mom and I are always going to love you and support you. We promise. Without even knowing what forms that might require, we promise to always protect you and provide for you. We’re always going to help you. You know that, right? I want that to be very clear to you. We love you. You can always come to us with anything. And we’re always going to move heaven and earth to do what you need us to do.
I love you, Valerie. I’m so proud of you. And I can’t wait to see how this all turns out. I’m very excited about this.
When Monday morning comes and you’re heading out your dorm for that very first day of college classes, I hope you can hear my voice: “Work hard! Learn a lot! Be sweet!”