Life takes us by surprise, even when we plan ahead. We work tirelessly and single-mindedly toward a goal and are still caught off guard when it is achieved. The success we always dreamed about seems surreal once attained. We find ourselves asking, like the little boy in the YouTube video, “Is this real life?”
I remember holding my son the day he was born, totally in awe of the wonder and miracle of his little life. Lisa and I were infertility patients and had long wondered if we would ever be parents. As I held him in my arms it did not seem real, or even possible.
A few months later we stood together as a family in front of our church family to formally dedicate ourselves to raising Nate in accordance with God’s word and promises. Over the years we had sat in the pews and watched as other families made similar commitments, wondering if we would ever be similarly blessed. It was an emotional moment for us. I held my son in my arms as we affirmed our promise to love and protect our son, to raise him in a home where God’s word would be read, honored and obeyed. We were overwhelmed at God’s goodness, it did not seem real.
Just a few weeks later our family passed another dreamed of milestone. It had taken me 9 years of work, but on a sunny day 25 years ago my family watched as I finally received my medical degree. After the ceremony I stood in my cap and gown with my son in my arms, amazed that the moment had actually arrived.
Yesterday I sat with my family and watched as my son and his wife shared such a moment for themselves. They have been a couple since they were 16 and have been married for three years. For all of those three years he has been in law school at UCLA, balancing the demands of a challenging course load and a brutal commute with his commitments to his family. It was a long and difficult journey but they completed it together.
As I watched him hug his wife, I realized that Lisa and I were completing a journey as well. We had made a promise to God, our family, our church and to one another to do our best to raise our son to be a godly man. Standing before us was such a man. The little boy that I once, in amazement, held in my arms, had just achieved his greatest goal with the woman he loved at his side. It doesn’t seem real.
What I am most proud of is not the degree he earned or the honors he received. He worked hard not for accolades and recognition but out of a desire to do good, to provide for his family and to honor his God. The people in his life and the God he serves are far more important than the diploma in his hand.
My prayer for my son is that he will continue to serve the God who has sustained us and loved us, the one who has given more than we could imagine and hope for and who has allowed us to realize so many of our dreams.