Max Dubinsky writes to his son before he is born.
I know what this is going to sound like. Surely you’re wiser in your youth than I could ever hope to be in my old age. I feared my own father’s advice because I feared confrontation with him, terrified of what he may say if he called me into the room when my sisters weren’t around. Afraid he knew my secrets; that he may dangle them over my head, waiting for the perfect punishment.
I was never comfortable with myself, but I looked up to my father. Yet he was silent because in our home, men did not speak of the things they struggled with: women, overwhelming lust, a desperate need to find their place in this world.
I was ashamed because I felt these things and believed I was alone.
I know of your struggles, my son, because you are a man just as I am. Because of this, I am not disappointed in you. We are not perfect. We are fallen men. Our hope cannot lie within each other. Because one day I will fail you. I will hurt you. And I am so sorry for it. I so badly want to do everything right for you, but we were not created in the concept of right and wrong. We were created for life and for love. So take comfort in my love. It remains unconditional and constant.
It is my job to show you what it takes in this world to be a man who loves, forgives, and is merciful. To show you what it means to be a gentleman. A man of God awaiting his Goddess to come. Until one day, when you are old enough, you will leave your home and set forth on your own, writing the story you’ve been called to tell. Creating a home of your own. My job is to teach you to stand up for what you believe in, no matter what it is you choose to believe.
I will teach you to stand when a woman enters the room, to hold the door for her, and to never go in her purse without permission. That even when she’s 99.9% wrong, and you’re only 0.01% to blame, you still apologize. I will tell you it’s OK to bring flowers on the first date, and to call her the next day instead of waiting three. I will teach you to tie a tie, and shave with deliberate strokes. I will teach you to respect women, to honor them, and to learn from them. They will teach you things that I cannot. They’re holding tighter to our hearts than they will ever realize. And you will learn this not through my words, but during the moment when she squeezes too hard. It will hurt. But broken is just experience for the best of hearts.
This is no reason not to love, not to risk. If we are not loving nor taking risks, we’re not truly living.
So carve your heart onto the page with your pen.
And with that same hand, protect the heart of the woman your name has been written on and given to you to hold.
Listen, always, before you speak. Then choose your words carefully as they can bring life, and they can bring death.
Your tears do not make you less of a man, and your fists do not make you more of one.
Know it’s impossible to live without regrets, but it is possible to live without making the same mistakes twice. Keep your heart teachable. The teachable man will always get the job before the personable one who claims to know it all already.
And know when you are on your own, that you are not alone.
Just as I began viewing pornography at the age of 11, snuck out after curfew to see a girl I liked and knew my mother disapproved of, had my first beer down at the lake with my cousins at 15, and tried my first cigarette at 16, I know you will struggle with these things too. And just as I have been forgiven, so are you. Not because these decisions were wrong, but because they were not the future intended for me. They only brought me farther away from the life God planned. And just as He has forgiven me, son, I forgive you.
It’s OK that you have used pornography, and taken things too far with your first girlfriend. Because I struggle too. I remain by your side. I cannot do this without you. As men, we are in this battle together. When we engage in battle, injury is inevitable. We will stumble. And we will fall. But know that I am here to help you up. My hand remains firm for you to take hold of when you grow weak.
Everywhere I go, I am challenged. I am tempted. I lust. Just as you do, and will. And the world is going to tell you that it is OK to use pornography when you’re lonely, that you should sleep with and give your heart to as many women as possible before marriage, that just one drink won’t hurt, that we only live once.
Though I will never tell you how to live, I will only encourage you to live the way you were created to. A way that represents you as a gentleman. As a man who puts himself second to others. A way that reflects you’re willing to wait to give yourself to the one who shares all your beliefs, trusts you and knows your heart; has your heart. Wait to give yourself to a best friend you can laugh with, and cry your eyes out with moments later. Make sure she is someone worth dying for.
Having another notch in our belts does not make us better men.
We go searching for stories in the wrong places when we aren’t living out the story intended for us. I promise to help you write your story.
There is a future out there somewhere with your name written all over it.
Only you can decide if you want to live everyone else’s future, or if you want to live your own.
My boy, you are beautiful. I am proud of you, and honored to have you as a son.
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