My dear Samantha, what to say to you?

It has been nearly two weeks since you came into the world and already you consume most of my thoughts. I’m always wondering how you are feeling, checking on you when you are asleep, and I wake up multiple times each night to make sure you are okay. You terrify me.

In these past two weeks, you had to be admitted into the hospital nursery overnight because you had Jaundice, and your mom and I had to go home without you for a night – it was honestly one of the hardest days of my life. Two days later, you had to be readmitted to the hospital because of the same issue, and my heart dropped in my chest. While I’ve known this whole time that the issue isn’t serious, it has pained me greatly to leave your side for even a second.

Yet, through it all you have been tough as could be. You were born three weeks early but every doctor we’ve met has commented on just how strong and alert you are. You have had your skin poked for blood draws more times than I care to count, and yet you have handled most of them without even letting out a cry. Even at one week old, every time I have freaked out and wanted to do anything I could to protect you, you have shown me that you are strong enough to deal with what you have to. I can look into your eyes and hear you tell me “Dad, you don’t need to worry. I got this.”

That’s right. You’ve got this Sam, and I want to use the next few minutes to remind you of that. Maybe one day, you will get the chance to read this and it will be enough to encourage to push through whatever challenge you are going through.

The first thing I want to tell you is that you are blessed (or privileged, depending on how you want to look at it). You have many things that a lot of other children in the world don’t get: two parents who adore you, who fear God, and who want what is best for you. You get to grow up in a financially stable environment (at least at the time of this writing haha) in a country that is relatively at peace. You won’t have to fear for your life everyday or worry about basic necessities like food and water. You will participate in a church that loves you and looks out for you, and hopefully you will find friends who you will get the chance to grow up with from an early age. Looking at your future from this time and place, it seems like you have a good starting point for your life.

However, not all of it is going to be easy. First of all, you are a girl, and I’m sad to say that this world and this country do not value you as much as they value boys. As we speak, there are many brave women out there trying to level the playing field, trying to create equal opportunity for all, and I hope you follow in their footsteps, but humanity’s patriarchal history dates back way too far for an easy fix. Gender equality may not happen in your lifetime – it may not happen until the resurrection of the dead and the return of Jesus. Life is going to be more of an uphill climb for you than it was for me.

I’m going to do my best to make sure that the language you hear is positive and uplifting of women, but I want you to be aware that the language of the world is not structured that way. Words meant to be derogatory are words that you as a woman will naturally associate with – that is because of the world’s tendency to favor men and look down on women. Men have made it that way, so don’t be discouraged when you hear them speak like that. Be proud of who you are.

What does that mean for you? It means that if you want to put on a baseball glove and compete with the boys your age, I will be the first one outside playing catch with you. If you want take up music, I will learn an instrument right alongside you (since I am quite terrible musically). If you want to wear gray and black all the time, I will support you as you dress like your mother. If you want to wear pink, I will make sure that I wear clothes to match you. I want you to be your best self, and I will always push you to pursue it, whatever that looks like.

Don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl. Don’t be afraid of stepping into unknown territory and don’t fear what others will say of you when you do. I am in your corner rooting for you and you have a God who is cheering you on as well, so listen to our voices over and against those of the world.

You are strong. You are smart. You are tough. You are beautiful. You are precious. You are loved.

If there is any one thing I want to make sure you hear, it is that you are loved – by me, by your mom, by your grandparents, by your aunts and uncles, by your church, and most importantly by your God. It does not matter where you go or what you do, you are loved. It does not matter what you come to think and believe, you are loved. It does not matter your job, where you live, how much you learn, or what you look like, you are loved.

So run faster, jump higher, get stronger, and fall harder knowing that we have your back no matter what. Break every ceiling the world tries to put over your head, whether that ceiling be financial, stained-glass, or anything else. Press on when the world tries to hold you back and ignore the hecklers that will most certainly come up.

Even as you press on, remember that you will fall short. You will not meet all of your goals. You will fail more times than you want to think. You are going to get angry, frustrated, hurt, and sad, but that is all part of life. You are going to cry, so cry it out. Come to me and I will cry with you. Your emotions are nothing to be afraid or ashamed of, so come to me or your mom with them. You can even go to God with them – God wants to hear your heart, whether that be a heart that is sad, frustrated, or just broken. You will experience a lot of downs and that is more than okay.

I am here for you in the ups and downs, so when you feel like you can’t do it, come to me and I will help you. I’m going to be next to you as you eat solid food for the first time, walk with you when you take your first step, and talk with you when you speak your first words. I will drive you to your first day of school, work with you on your homework, and help get you dressed up for your first dance. Wherever you go and whatever you do, I will be there when you need me and when you ask for me.

There will be times when I overstep. I will try to protect you when you don’t need protection. I will embarrass you in front of your friends and I will say things that hurt you. I ask for your grace and your forgiveness when I mess up. As much as I want to remind you, I think I am the one who will need to remember this the most… You’ve got this, my daughter.

If you ever get the chance to read this, know that I’ve already read it hundreds of times. And if you come here looking for words of encouragement, know that there is a very good chance that I am reading it at the same time looking for the words to say to you.

I love you Samantha. I always will.