Dear Sons,

You are three and a half and one and a half. You’re covered in Popsicles, grape and orange and you’re riding bikes up and down the deck and laughing at the robins hopping across the lawn.

You stop and you look at me, my oldest, and you tell me it’s a beautiful day, because that’s something you hear me say, whenever it’s sunny.

And then you ride your bike some more and you ask me, “Mama, can I be a girl?” and all of me stops because I don’t know what to say for a moment.

Because in this world, technically, you can be a girl, even if you were born a boy. But as Bible-believers, we are told to be in, not of this world, and so I look at you and I get down to your height and I put my hands on your shoulders.

“No, son,” I say. “God made you a boy. He has a special plan for you, as a boy. And one day you’ll grow up to be a man.”

You stop. “Like Daddy?”

I nod. “Like Daddy, or Opa, or Grandpa.”

You nod. “Okay. I boy?”

“Yes, Aiden, you’re a boy.”

And there’s something resolute in the way you sit back on your bike and ride because you needed to know that. And yet I feel like I’ve forced something on you because we live in such a relevant society. Some parents, not even telling their children what gender they are, letting them figure it out on their own, but I believe God made man, and woman, and it was good, he said. I believe God assigns gender in the womb and I believe in the differences that make men and women unique and sacred and holy.

And sometimes, boys and girls are born with complications and it’s not so easy for them to know who they are.

And sometimes, they just don’t want to be who they are because they’ve been hurt.

Many of them, by men.

Men who’ve abused their role. Men who’ve abused the opposite sex, the wives they were supposed to cherish. Men who’ve objectified and ridiculed and made a mockery of their calling. 

There is no greater gender, boys. There are just different genders. And different ways of dying to self, per gender, and each is important. Yes, it means submitting to God’s plan for gender. Yes, it means humility. And yes, it means, at the same time, dignity.

And this is my sole longing for both of you. That in your boyhood and your manhood, you would honor the Lord. That you would cherish the holy calling God has given you, and that you would always be reminded that you were once dust.

“God has called you to be a leader,” I whisper to you, my eldest, as you lie in bed.

“A bleeder?” you say.

I smooth back your hair and smile. “Yes. A man who will help people.”

You smile.

“Okay,” you say.

It’s a war zone out there. There are billboards and there are novels and there are movies and there are theologies that will seek to drag you down, to believe men and women are mere objects and that gender is just a box to be checked off.

But you were known before you were born. You were called a tender-hearted leader, my Aiden, and a courageous warrior, my Kasher, whose name means Authentic Praise, and your path has been set. I tell you every night that God has special plans for you and he does, but there is a roaring lion.  

An enemy who wants to make you believe your worth depends on a woman’s praise or a man’s respect but it only depends on the Lord’s approval. 

So be the kind of men who, like your Daddy, make their wives supper and take the kids out for the afternoon so she can paint, and who sing with gusto in church and pray with fervor for their families at the supper table. Be the kind of men who, like your Opa, study deer and nature for hours, sitting in the quiet of God’s creation and not being afraid to be still. Be the kind of men who, like your Grandpa, preach the gospel around the world, who live with less so others might have more, who care for their wives when they get sick with cancer and make ministry, home.

Be soldiers of the spiritual kind, boys. Soldiers who stand up to the real enemy and tell him to leave, in Jesus’ name, just like you do now when you’ve had a scary dream, because he has no authority over you.

And when he tries to convince you that you’re not enough, or when he tries to confuse you, to convince you to take advantage of your position as man, take it to the Lord in prayer and ask him to show you what he meant when he said that both man and woman were made in his image, and that it is good. 

You, boys, are my good works.

You, sons, are my masterpiece.

Love always, in Him,

Your proud, proud Mama.