And then we present him with his high school diploma.
It is hard to hear me talking, so if you don’t want to struggle through that, just skip to the 5 minute mark where Sid shares his Lincoln story. His voice carries better than mine, plus he is funnier. I include a transcript of my “speech” below, since it is easier to read me than to hear me.
Lincoln, “I admire you dreadfully.”
I am borrowing a statement your daddy once said to me. And though I am still working out exactly what he meant when he spoke those words to me,
(looking at Sid, “I’ll get back to you on that one day”)
I know exactly what I mean when I say them to you.
“I admire you dreadfully.”
I use the word “dread” here with its sense of “awe.” You inspire me, Lincoln. You set a high bar for me, your Mama, to live up to.
Yes, you are smart, write a pretty entertaining essay, are a skilled musician and got some dance moves. And while I certainly can’t live up to the music or dance skills, the part of you I find most awesome is how you live out your relationships, which is to say how you love God. We can’t have one without the other. One cannot love God without being love to people, We must be “walking temples” as NT Wright says, creating safe places for people to be.
You understand that Love is not a general, vague feeling of wishing good for someone. You actively DO good things.
For me, one of the good things you do is repent. If sin is defined as “missing the mark” and repent is defined as “making a 180 degree turn around, to change your direction,” then you are the most repentant person I know.
Not because you “miss the mark” more than most. You have a clear eye on the RIGHT target, that goal of being love to others. But you are finely tuned to notice when you even slightly glance away from the mark.
You have practiced that habit of “turning away” from a slightly questionable response to a better, more right one. I have watched you do this in the smallest interactions – with me, with your sisters, your brother — basically those you live with and who have the capacity to cause you the most annoyance and test your patience.
“I’m sorry. I sounded impatient,” you might say.
“Forgive me. It’s not you, I’m tired and grouchy,” I’ve heard you say.
“I should not have spoken to you in that way,” you have said.
In your smallest interactions, the ones most people view as trivial, or not even think about at all, you are aware of others, their feelings, and how you might negatively or positively impact their life. You catch yourself in the moment, turn yourself around and redeem the slightest impatient word or irritable action.
You are less interested in proving yourself to be RIGHT, than you are in being a man of great kindness and mercy.
That is Love, Lincoln. You do it so well. And those of us in relationship with you feel so cherished.
We often think of parents as molding and shaping their children’s behavior, but that does not work in just one direction. Lincoln, you have shaped and are continuing to shape me.