Dear Zac: A Father's Thoughts on His Son Turning 16

When the doctor announced that we were having a son, I shouted for joy (literally).  Don't get me wrong: I love my 2 daughters. They are my girls and they hold the keys to my heart in ways they do not even realize. And I was convinced a third daughter was my parental destiny. So when I learned I was the father of a son, my spontaneous reaction was sheer delight.  This week, my son Zachary Devin Hudson turns 16.  Here are a few my thoughts to Zac.

You are my son and I am proud to be your dad.

I love you Zac more than life. I am proud to be your father.  The elation I felt on the day the doctor revealed I was having a son has exponentially grown and deepened.  When I tell people that you are my son, I do so with pride, pleasure and excitement.  The ways that you are a great son to me are more than I can list.

For example, almost every Sunday on our ride home from church when it is normally just you and me in the car, you encourage me. You tell me how awesome the message was that day - how much you loved it.  You speak words of affirmation and life to me.  During the toughest seasons of my life, you were there for me.  You have never stopped believing in me.  You are not ashamed to tell people (including your friends) that I am your dad. You do not even avoid me when your friends are around! You live your life in a way that provides me confidence you seek to make right decisions. You have exceeded my expectations of what I thought it would be like to have a son. 

You are a great brother. 

You have always loved and taken care of your sisters. You make them laugh like no one else. You honor and respect them. You protect them. You love them. You want to spend time with them. You have been an incredible brother to your sisters. And they love you deeply.

And then this year everything changed. Levi entered the world.  And suddenly for the first time in 14+ years, you were not my only son. Understandably, you were unsure, hesitant, and troubled. You questioned whether our relationship would be the same. We had some tough conversations. You shared your heart with me. I shared mine with you.  We waded through some turbulent waters. I prayed for you and with you. You questioned what your relationship with Levi would look like. Even in the hours before his birth, you were uncertain about what it would look like to have a little brother.

And then ... you held him and allowed your heart to love him - to love him deeply.  And now you are his hero. It is your name he screams up and down the halls of our home. It is your room where he wants to go. It is your face that changes his expression.  It is your every move he watches and wants to emulate.

I have always believed your sisters were fortunate to have a brother like you who loves them and wants to spend time with them. And now you have a little brother who is experiencing just how much his "Z-A-A-A" loves him. I am so grateful Kayleigh, Ragan, and Levi get to call you brother.

You are a valued friend.

One of the things I love about you is the type of friend you are to your friends. Your personality is almost identical to mine in that you are not always the most sociable person in the room.  And yet you have a diverse friend group.  You do not draw boundaries that are confined to people in your same social circle.  You are a positive influence.  You initiate and seek resolution in times of conflict. You are a loyal friend and a leader by example. Your friends enjoy having you as a friend.

And you also are a great friend to me. I love spending time with you. You even claim I am your "best" friend and you enjoy spending time with me!  We road trip together.  We hang out.  We shoot hoops.  We play video games.  We watch sports.  You are not just my son - you are my buddy.

You have a heart to serve other people.

You have always displayed a sincere care for other people. You serve faithfully. You ask questions that reveal your heart for others.  You are genuine. We talk regularly about grace in our family and you seek to live out grace as a way of life.

You work hard to achieve specific goals.

I have watched you develop tremendously in this area of your life. In recent years, you determined to become a better basketball player. You trained. You worked hard. You practiced.  And you are achieving that goal. You have taught yourself how to play instruments and how to create music.  You resolved to become a better student and you did.  You wanted to improve your speaking and presentation skills and you excelled.  Dad challenges you at times and you step up.  This determination and drive toward improvement will help you navigate life. 

You are hilarious.

You make people laugh. You make our family laugh. You make me laugh. Your sense of humor is identical to mine in so many ways. Not everyone gets to appreciate your humor the way we do but we love it.

You are competitive.

We love 2 primary sports teams in our home: the UNC Tarheels basketball team & the Dallas Cowboys.  Some of our best (and most frustrating) moments in life are watching our teams play. Not everyone else understands the competitive "spirit" with which you pull for our teams ... but I get it. And even when we have to have those "it is just a game" talks, I love your competitive nature. I love it when it surfaces while watching sports or playing basketball, video games, ping pong, or a board game! Competition makes us stronger and I am glad you love to compete.

You are growing into a young man who loves Jesus, your family, and others.

Over the last couple of years, I have watched your heart for Jesus, family, and others grow.  My deepest desire for you is that you grow into a man who loves and prioritizes Jesus, his family, and other people.  I have been given the opportunity to be your dad, friend, and pastor.  I love serving in each of those roles and watching you develop in your journey.  You are learning how essential the gospel of grace is to our story and to yours.  And I love walking with you on this journey. 

I can't wait to see where life takes you Zachary Devin Hudson.  I am grateful that God granted me the privilege of being your Dad.  I am thankful that you are the son who will carry on my name and legacy.  Happy 16th!

I love you.


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