Your Normal Isn’t Normal: A Letter From James Kennison


Your dad asked me a while back to write you a letter. My immediate thought was “NO!” What could I say to a baby I’ve never even met that would mean anything? Your Dad hardly listened to me in his youth… why would you?

The tone of these letters are always very deep and serious. They’re life-altering and they speak to all of us. Your Dad is an awesome man for not only writing his thoughts to you, but sharing them with the rest of us. Part of the reason I didn’t want to write was because of the great amount of respect I have for your Dad’s project… the other part is because I know there’s a big chance that you’ll take this all for granted.

I imagine you’re around 16 to 17 years old. You’re on the threshold of the rest of your life and it’s time to read through these letters full of hope, passion, struggles, lessons and truth. Maybe you’ve read some previously… but now you’re of age and they’re really starting to make sense.

But here’s the thing I worry about… this is normal for you.

It’s not that you’re going to be insensitive or careless, it’s that you will have lived your entire life with your Dad pouring the contents of his soul into yours every day, both on page and in practice. It’s typical, expected, standard.

So my job is to help you realize what a miracle you have in your Father. There are millions of sons in this world, and in America alone only about half of those sons have their Dad living with them. I expect that less than half of those have a loving, caring Dad who is actively involved in a positive way in their upbringing. Finally, inside of that group is a very small percentage of sons who have a Dad like yours.

What you have experienced growing up is so rare. It is the dream of millions of sons who grew up without our Fathers. There are old men still pining for a father-son relationship that would have ended naturally years before, had it ever existed. There are men, like me, who are trying to be the Father they never had, being led by crumbs, bits and pieces, hints and hope. Your Dad’s going to have done it right… and that means one thing… you’ll never know how good you have it.

However, if you’re like your Dad then you’ll be someone who cares about others. You’ll watch the lives of your friends and even the people who wander in and out of your life. You’ll care more than is normal. You’ll glean more than most will.

Therefore, I hope that in your travels through life that as you screw up, act the fool, question everything, and tick off your folks, that you’ll be able to grab little glimpses of your life from someone else’s perspective. When you’re angry at your Dad, when you think he’s out of touch, uncool and that he just doesn’t understand… that you’ll hold tight to those glimpses and realize how lucky you are to have a Dad to get all frustrated with.

So when you get to this letter… no matter how many times you’ve skimmed, wished you were watching holo-TV, or rolled your eyes I want you to go find and hug your Dad. Kiss him on the head. Tell him you love him. Thank him for making you so vital to his life. Then come back and read every freaking one of these things. Read them like the Bible.

If you don’t, a 57-year-old me will show up one day and punch you… very hard.

Don’t take your Dad for granted. He didn’t with his and it made him the man he is today. If you can’t marvel at the miracle of your own upbringing you will be robbing yourself (and your children) of one of the greatest gifts God can give a person: A pretty decent Dad.

– James

Do you take your “normal” for granted?

Is there someone who has shaped your life for the better?

Do you realize how fortunate you are to have this person in your life?

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Want to read more letters like this one? Check out the suggested letters below.

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

1 Comment

  1. Donara   •  

    Advice for Lewis: be ready to forgive your father!! A lot lol!!! He’ll piss you off and that’s okay but please don’t let that hinder you from receiving the love only a father can give. I hope you understand that people like us have something so rare and that’s a loving, caring, involved dad. I didn’t grow up with mine but I’m thankful that he searched for me.

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