Choose Love

To The Two Most Important People in My Life:

I love you both so much. Sometimes I find myself smiling just at the thought that you are out there in the world. Your mere existence brings a joy to my heart that causes it to swell so big it practically bursts out of my chest. Now you would probably say “I know dad” just like you always do when I say I love you so many times and you’re tired of hearing it. Unfortunately, I don’t think you know because I’m afraid I don’t really know either. Just when I think I couldn’t love you any deeper something happens that proves me wrong.

It’s because of this love that I feel the need to protect you at all times. I’m not just talking about protecting you from falling or choking or walking into the middle of the street. More than anything I want to protect your hearts. Now I know that’s an impossible task and that, at some point, you’re going to be hurt emotionally. It might be a friend who betrays you or a stranger who judges you or even a family member who speaks down to you. Hurt is an inevitable part of life and something most of us would rather avoid by running away or ignoring than having to deal with the pain. However, if there’s one piece of advice I can give you it’s this: Don’t be so afraid to hurt that you don’t allow yourself to love.

We live in a world where people are becoming more and more cynical. In this day of instant information the stories of violence, corruption, and injustices run rampant and our access to these atrocities is virtually limitless. Social media is full of judging eyes and sharp tongues as people hide behind their monitors firing off mean spirited words with the press of a button. It’s not enough that you have to combat the constant barrage of negativity out in the world but now I fear your hearts may have been hardened by the two people you trusted most…your parents.

People tell me all the time that you’ll both be okay and I don’t doubt that’s true for a second. What I refuse to do is use that answer as an excuse to brush it under the rug as if it never happened. Sure, 20 years from now you may not remember much from when your mom and I were together and you might say, “It’s the only life I know”. I can only imagine that when you really stop to think about that realization you’ll feel something. My hope is that you won’t let this circumstance define how you love others. To hold back what you have to offer the world would be a grave injustice. You will do great things in this life because you both have the biggest hearts of anyone I know. Let that guide you and don’t ever let anyone else’s actions stop you from loving with your WHOLE heart.

You might wonder if marriage is even worth it and that’s for you to decide. It seems that everyone is always looking for that fairy tale romance and storybook ending. I can tell you that it does exist, it just doesn’t look anything like it’s depicted on TV or in the movies. Marriage is a grand, romantic idea that is flawed because it involves the union of two flawed people. It requires hard work, constant attention, patience, and selflessness. The idea that it shouldn’t be hard work is naïve because that notion assumes that you won’t encounter difficulty. The vows you make are written to include the words “for better or worse” for a reason. Rest assured that if you do find someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with you will, without a doubt, come across worse times. In those hard times you will be tested.

Always remember that you have a voice and that no one is responsible for it except you. You can either choose to use it or choose not to. I hope that you will always choose to use it, even if you’re not being heard. When you’re that invested in someone else it’s inevitable they will hurt you. Remember that no one is perfect, including you, and always own up to your mistakes. Don’t ignore whatever problems you may have but face them head on. Sitting in silence will only help to serve as a reservoir for any feelings of resentment, hurt, distrust, and disappointment. Instead focus on the good things about your spouse, the life you’ve built, and the children you have (if any). Be intentional about loving your spouse even when they’ve hurt you and even when you feel you can’t stand them. You’ll know if they’re genuinely sorry and you’ll know if they’re making an effort to love you back.

Divorce is so common in our society that we often dismiss it as a “part of life”. I don’t believe that’s true. You see natural disasters are a part of life, diseases are a part of life, and even death is a part of life. These are things you can’t control. Divorce is a choice. You can either choose to walk away or stay and fight but, as long as you’ve married someone who is committed to making it work, you will have a choice. If you have children ask yourself what the better choice is for them: Walk away and force your children into a life where they can no longer see both of their parents every day or stay and put in the effort to make the marriage work even if it may be a long, tough road? Rest assured that if you’re ever in that place of hopelessness you’ve both played a part in paving the way to get there. However, I can promise you that if you both give 100% and are honest and open and vulnerable with each other it will work but you must go all in. Don’t hold back and you’ll find out that marriage is more than worth it.

In this life you will always have choices. Choose to surround yourself with people who will make you a better person. People who aren’t afraid to be honest with you and call you out in a loving manner. Choose to listen and use that criticism to better yourselves. Choose to always be honest both with yourself and with others. Choose forgiveness even when it’s not being asked for. Choose to admit when you’re wrong and ask for forgiveness. In the darkest of nights when you’re hurting so deeply choose to hope. Choose to be understanding and respectful of others even when they don’t deserve it. Choose to always be kind even to those who are unkind to you. Choose to vigorously pursue what you’re passionate about in this life. Choose to always keep your word and maintain your integrity. Choose to laugh even when it seems there’s nothing to laugh about. Choose to cry even when others might see it as weakness. Choose to not let your pride get in the way and ask for help when you need it. Choose to keep fighting for what you believe in even though you may know you’ll end up losing the fight. Choose love.

If I’ve done anything in this life I hope that I’ve loved you so hard that you can feel it in the deepest parts of your soul. I hope that I’ve lived my life as an example for the advice I’ve given above because we all know talk is cheap but our actions will always speak louder than words. I won’t love you perfectly but I will always love you unconditionally.

Your biggest fan,

Dad