“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. ~ 1 Timothy 4:12
He stole my heart years ago. At first, I couldn’t connect with him as I had with my newborn daughter. Exhausted and not sure how to deal with the differences a boy brings, I wondered if we’d ever have as strong a bond.
Then he smiled at me—more than a grin people say comes from tummy troubles. It was genuine. His smile came much earlier than I’d ever seen in a baby, entwining our hearts. Believing it was God’s gift to me in the midst of my season of weariness, I immediately took him to have his picture made. I didn’t want to forget that day.
That was almost nineteen years ago. My sweet and handsome son, Jacob, graduated last week from high school, on his birthday. His smile still melts my heart. His quick wit lightens my mood on burdensome days. His laughter, as well as his guitar playing and singing, is part of the score that makes up the beautiful music of our home.
As I look back over the years of heartache and pain, joy and fun, I remember many worrisome days. From the time he was six months old until he was in first grade, he suffered from a continuing variety of ailments—asthma, three bouts of pneumonia, numerous rounds of bronchitis and even a test for cystic fibrosis, the disease that usually takes the life of children before their twenty-fifth birthday. He measured very small for his age, staying in the seventh percentile on height and weight throughout his entire childhood.
We dealt with a diagnosis of ADD, which resulted in us having to hold him back another year in K-5. His kindergarten friends moved on and forgot about him. The devastation of the fallout from that year caused him to suffer numerous setbacks.
He was impressionable, always wanting to be included. I worried he would end up being one of those boys who wouldn’t hesitate to follow the crowd, even if the crowd ended up in the wrong place.
He struggled with his grades, endured several teachers who were mean and others who didn’t seem to care. His laughing and witty mouth did get him in trouble on several occasions. I still remember when the assistant principal had him call me and admit he’d been disrupting class. I never received another phone call like that again.
But this boy is special.
God created Jacob with a compassionate heart, a mind that understands the mechanics of a vehicle, and a personality that endears him to many.
I’m grateful He saw fit to put teachers and mentors along his path who loved on Jacob—who were patient and kind and good to him. These special people nurtured him and made a real difference in his life.
Last year Jacob received the Student of the Year award in Automotive Technology at the career center he attended. This year he was honored with that department’s scholarship to Greenville Technical College, where he will attend this fall and study diesel mechanics.
A few weeks ago my husband, John, received a phone call from a man Jacob regularly buys auto parts from.
“John,” he said, “if my boy turns out to be half the man your son is, I’ll be pleased. I’ve never met a young man as polite and well-mannered as Jacob. He’s set the bar high. I know you must be proud.”
Those words delighted John. My husband had no small part in influencing our son’s character—efforts well worth the investment of his love and time.
I thought back to his first year of kindergarten, when the teacher who’d shunned Jacob after he was diagnosed with ADD gave him the award for Most Well-Mannered. I knew it was the only one she could come up with for him in good conscience. Because she had to give each child something, and because he never failed to say “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am” to her or any other adult, she knew he’d rightfully earned it.
His manners have served him well over the years.
Having a son has been one of the biggest blessings and scariest things I’ve ever endured. From racing go-karts in elementary school and dirt cars in middle school, to riding dirt bikes and enjoying the thrill of anything dangerous (and dirty), my nerves have sometimes been frayed to the edge. But when I see the man he’s become—one who’s strong and smart and hard-working—I have to thank God for the blessing of this boy.
My son isn’t perfect—not by a long shot—but he’s grown into so much more than I ever hoped to ask or imagine. He may not have been the valedictorian or earned a slew of awards, but he’s shown what hard work and persistence can do in life.
I couldn’t be more proud.
This boy—my boy—has now become a man.
I love you, Jacob.
Do you have a story of how your child overcame obstacles in his or her life? Please share. I’d love to cheer them on as well!