I am a grandfather.
My daughter Rachel has given birth to a beautiful little girl named Avonlea Rose Hill. My wife Susan is now officially “Nana,” and I am now officially “Papa.”
Upon Avonlea’s birth, I decided to write her a letter. Below is an excerpt from it. I share it to remind all grandchildren how much they are loved by their grandparents, and children of those grandparents how much they are loved by their parents.
My Dearest Avonlea:
Today you were born.
I am your grandfather. Rumor has it you will be calling me “Papa,” and my wife, your grandmother, “Nana.” If you can learn to say the words right. I’m sure whatever you start to call us will stick, and we will love it.
I remember when your mother was born. I was the first to hold her. I was one of the first to hold you. Your mother was beautiful, as you are.
I had a special name for her. It was “Rachel Elizabeth White Sweetie Sunshine Face Golden Girl Blue-Eyed Baby Doll Second Daughter of Mine Who Fits Just Right.” I have no idea how that got started, but it made her smile every time I said it.
I’ll soon have a special set of names for you, too.
There are some things you should know as you enter this world. First, that you are deeply loved. I’ve never had a grandchild before, but the love I have for you is so strong, and so innate. There is nothing you can ever do to make me love you more, and nothing you can ever do to make me love you less.
Second, that your mother is my daughter. That may seem strange to hear, but I love her as she loves you. She will always be my little girl, even as she holds you in her arms, my precious granddaughter. My love for her overflows into your life.
Finally, and most importantly, I want you to know that even now I am praying that you will be in the same relationship with Christ that I am in, Nana is in, your mother is in and your father is in. It is the most important thing in all of our lives, and in truth, the only thing that matters in this life. I long for your emotional health, your physical health, your relational health; I hope you fall in love, get married and have a family; but all of those pale in comparison to your eternity.
More than anything, I hope to spend it with you, and you with Christ.
So know that you are prayed for. Faithfully. In fact, if you ever wonder if anyone in this world is thinking of you and praying for you, rest assured.
Nana and I are.
God wanted you born. He made you to love you. There is only one Avonlea Rose Hill, and you are that person. I cannot wait to see all that you will do with your life. And for as long as I live, I will stand by that life, and serve it in any way I can.
With great love,
James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is now available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit www.churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.