"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

To My Daughter Charis on Her 25th Birthday! Love, Dad

Charis, it was a quarter of a century ago today, on Sunday, April 12, 1987 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, that you entered this world. Your name means "Grace" and your mother and I felt from the very beginning that we were immeasurably graced by God to be your parents, but in time we felt even more favored to be your friends. We have written you a private birthday note which you should receive in the mail, but I felt impressed to write this public post to express my deep love and respect for you as a person and to encourage you with a specific word about your personhood. There are so many things I admire in your character including your faith, your perseverance, your kindness, your selflessness, your loyalty, your generosity, your wisdom, and countless other excellent qualities. There are so many additional attributes you possess, including your bulldog determination (a chip off the old block!), that cause us incredible joy! I could write a veritable book summarizing what your mother and I think and believe about you. We know you are not perfect, nor are we, but it is His grace and mercy in our lives that have taught our family to be quite comfortable in the skin, personality, and temperament He has given each of us. Your fiance Travis is a truly blessed man. He, like I, has been given by God a remarkably strong and gifted woman. Soon, you and he will marry, and your surname will change. As you know, Shakespeare once wrote, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  That is so true of you! Though your name may change, you will not. You will always be the special person of charis that God has made you to be.

I have tried during your life to help you capture the truth that who you are as a person has never been defined by your pastor-father, nor will it ever be tied to the identity of any man. Contrary to what some of our Christian friends believe (and teach), you have no need of any alleged 'covering' provided for you by a male. You didn't need any covering from me, nor will you need one from your future husband. The only covering you need you have; and it is given you freely by your Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the only Person from whom you can find real and eternal personal identity. Your mother and I have sought to model for you what a biblical, godly marriage is all about. Your mother is my equal. She is my friend. She stands alone in her personhood. You've been taught that you are the equal of any man, and we believe you know that to be true! We are excited that you have the privilege of marrying your best friend, and we do not believe there is a better man you could have chosen to marry in the entire world! We are confident Travis will remain your best friend throughout your life. But you have a Friend who is even closer to you than your future husband, your father, or your grandfathers. No male in your life was ever designed by God to be the source of your life, or the basis of your happiness, or the stability of your future. Christ is all that to you and more. He is your Source. He is your Sufficiency. He is your Stability. For this reason, no matter what you hear in the future from well-meaning pastors, I would encourage you to remember what your mom and dad have taught you over the years. You are the equal of any man in worth, value, signficance, purpose and abilities. You can both lead and follow, serve and be served, encourage and be encouraged in every area of life, including the emotional and spiritual level.

When we get to heaven you will be given "a new name" (Revelation 2:17), you will not be married (Luke 20:34), and you will no longer give birth to any children (Luke 20:34). Of course, those you love who are "in Christ" and those who love you who have also come to faith in Christ will be your BFF's, and we are delighted to be included in that group! But your identity for eternity, your significance forever, and your personhood in glory will be defined by Christ--no man. It is for the women in my family, particularly you, that I have sought to remind Christian women what the Bible says about God, women, and female personhood. Contrary to what many others would want Christian women to believe, the Bible reveals God has chosen to liken Himself to a female, and we are the fruit of His womb. In short, you have as much of the image of God in you as any male. You were created in HIS IMAGE, and your identity is in Him.  This birthday greeting is public because many of my friends are at a conference this week called Together for the Gospel. They read my blog, and some of them don't yet understand the importance of this issue in the Kingdom of God. I want them to know that when I write on the subject of women, I am primarily concerned with being biblical, but my motivation is practical, not philosopical or theological.

I write for you. I want you to know I see the Image of God in you. I rejoice that the Life of my God is in the soul of my daughter. You, Charis, are a beautiful human being, and it is because God's love for you and Christ's life in you. Happy Birthday! I look forward to being your friend for all of eternity.

In Our God's Grace and Love,

Dad

27 comments:

Christiane said...

wonderful, wonderful post!

Happy Birthday to Charis, whose name means 'grace'. :)

Off The Cuff said...

Bro. Wade,

Well Said! Thank you for allowing us to share your joy on this occasion.

Signed:
Father of three Daughters.

Johnny D. said...

Very nice. Powerful and moving. Happy Birthday, Charis!

Victorious said...

Thank you Wade for sharing this beautiful tribute to your daughter.

Happy Birthday, Charis!

Yvette Rich said...

Thank you , Wade for the truth, you have so beautifuly expressed to your wonderful daughter!Happy Birthday to her and congratulations on her upcoming wedding!
Some of the attributes you described about Charis reminds me of my own daughter , Christina.
This is a must for her to read.Thanks for sharing!

Thy Peace said...

You are the equal of any man in worth, value, signficance, purpose and abilities. You can both lead and follow, serve and be served, encourage and be encouraged in every area of life, including the emotional and spiritual level.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Mike Frost said...

Nice word to your daughter. I am sure she is proud of you.

FYI - I want you to know that when I write on the subject of women, I am primarily concerned with being biblical, even though we differ.

Mike

Wade Burleson said...

Mike,

I would be interested in "how we differ." And, thanks for the comment. I appreciate your fidelity is first to Scripture!

Wade

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...

Wade,

As the mother of two young adult daughters, I am overjoyed with your loving words for Charis. She is stunning! Please wish her Happy Birthday for me!

You have expressed my husband's sentiments extremely well, and I am blessed to be married to a man who considers me to be his equal. We are encouraging our daughters to marry men who emulate their dad. I think they're on the right track...

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks, Wanda, Yvette, Johnny, Victorious, Thy Peace, Off the Cuff, Mike and Christiane for your very kind words and for taking the time to leave a comment! :)

Mike Frost said...

This run of comments is not the place I want to debate the differences. It needs to remain focused primariloy on you and your daughter.

Julie Anne said...

Happy birthday to Charis. What sweet words from a loving father.

I have spent the last 20+ yrs. in the homeschool culture and your post on "covering" is contrary to what we've had preached/taught to us at homeschool conventions across the country (we moved a lot) and churches we've attended.

The post made me tear up. I think I have more studying to do.

Wade Burleson said...

Mike Frost,

Obviously, I respect what you have written. Thanks for both commenting and displaying such wisdom.

Wade Burleson said...

Julie Anne,

Thanks so for being so honest and transparent. I have already asked the Lord to grant you wisdom as you study further.

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...

Julie Anne,

I, too, homeschooled my daughters. We pursued it for four years, and in the fall of 1999 they began attending a Christian school. One recently graduated from college and the other is a college sophomore.

I attended the NCHE homeschool conference in 1997 and 1998, and I don't ever remember hearing anything about "covering". Doug Phillips was the keynote speaker in 1998, and I didn't see any red flags then. That's the year he launched Vision Forum.

It saddens me that so many in the homeschooling community have succumbed to what I consider to be unbiblical teaching. My heart is heavy for you.

Dee Parsons said...

Charis
What a beautiful name. You are blessed to come from such a wonderful family. May God bless you in your married life.He sounds wonderful, like you!

Laura said...

These beautiful words are a blessing for us all to share with our daughters. I am also sharing this with my sons. What happiness there can be when we cherish one another with honor and respect!

Kristen said...

What incredibly beautiful things to say to your daughter. Brought tears to my eyes.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I have wept openly at my computer reading your words. If only my own father had said words like that to me. Most words from his mouth throughout my life were harsh words of criticism and rebuke, and numeration of my faults and flaws. Never words of encouragement or blessing. God bless YOU for your kindness as a person AND father.

Chris R said...

It is a good letter, mostly. It saddens me, however, that despite all Charis has apparently been taught, she is going to give up her own name, and she (and her fiance and father) are apparently ok with that. I know it's a ubiquitous custom, but it, like so many others, continues, even if subliminally, the mindset and practice of a woman's identity being subsumed into that of her husband. I wish there were more women courageous enough to remain, in name as in all else, who they are until they Lord himself chooses a new name for them. I wish there were more men who would encourage them.

Victorious said...

It would be so nice if both mom and dad were to "give Chris away" at the ceremony. :)

Veronica Zundel said...

Wonderful letter Wade - she has a great father! But one question: if Charis' identity is not determined by any man, why does she need to change her name when she gets married? (and why doesn't Travis?). Isn't this just a subtle form of 'covering'?

Wade Burleson said...

Veronica,

For me to tell Charis what she "should" or "shouldn't" do about her name is controlling Charis. Whatever decision she makes is her business. My wife and I are quite comfortable with any decision she makes. As is the case in any situation, to give in to demands that Charis MUST do something (demands that come from either side of the position of a woman changing her name at marriage) is not in our DNA.

We are comfortable with any decision she makes, and in our case, are quite happy with the decision we made as a couple when we got married.

Thanks for the comment.

Mike Frost said...

"For me to tell Charis what she "should" or "shouldn't" do about her name is controlling Charis. "

I don't think you were being asked if you should or should not tell her to change her name but, rather clearly, why does she need to change her name when she gets married?

Is this a question or subject worth talking about with Charis? Is the taking of the husbands name a type of covering?

Good questions worth putting on the table if the issue of covering is really an issue.

Wade Burleson said...

Mike Frost,

Were she to ask it would be a delight to converse with her. Until she does, there is no need to speak with her over what concerns others and not her.

Mike Frost said...

Wade,

Good insight. To bad the same principle is not demonstrated towards others, which you write about, until they want to converse with you.

Such is life demonstrated by grace, I guess.

Wade Burleson said...

Public figures with public writings (for sale) are in a totally different category than the person with no platform. The moment someone sells a book and advocates truth, the principles articulated in that book can be opposed without permission. :)

Hope that helps you see the distinction I make in my writings.