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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Letter to My Law School Grad

Dear Luke,

This graduation is such a big deal, and I am over-the-moon proud of you. Several times during these past three years Dad and I have imagined out loud the epic nature of your Columbia Law School graduation ceremony. The pomp and splendor of your Ivy League achievement. And now it’s here. Albeit not exactly the way we imagined it. Our fantastical vision failed to anticipate the current chaos. Oh bother.  

We’ve wondered if your celebration might end up being a replay of Nils’ college graduation. 2020—when we gathered in our ceremonial bathrobes in Grant’s Des Moines backyard, and you and Ali surprised your brother by flying in from Colorado, and it was you who gave the commencement speech. Nils is ready to return the favor if it comes to that. Regardless, your Dad and I, and Nils and Brina, are 100% geared up for an epic party in New York City next weekend. (Don’t worry Grandmas. Your prayers will protect us.)

The fact is, Luke, you signed up for this. This is the crazy world you’ve bravely decided to protect and defend. You who entered this world bigger than any of us expected, in size and in heart. My Warrior Son, whom God has chosen. From day one. A wee lad fighting imaginary battles with wooden sword and plastic armor. A far-too-young child fighting spiritual battles in the dark of night. You learned early to cry out to Jesus, and time and again you saw him save you. And now God has chosen you again to engage the battle. And your mama watches… amazed and surrendered. Trusting the God who made you. Who will always and forever leave heaven to save you

There was a Sunday morning, a few years ago, at Constance Free Church. I remember where I was sitting. Front rows, just right of center. Pastor Randy Ahlberg was preaching, I can’t remember the details, just the gist. He spoke of trust and surrender, and after his teaching, we stood to sing. And God gave me a vision. I saw my Luke, on a path of God’s choosing—not his mama’s path, but somewhere off in a new direction. God showed me beyond a shadow of doubt, “The boy is mine. You can trust me.” And I can. I have. Not long after that vision I watched you leave the path that would have led to seminary and becoming a pastor. You chose instead, the path to an Ivy League law school. And not once have I wondered if you chose the right direction. 

There are practical reasons to trust this path. Like—YOU have ROCKED it. Oh my goodness. Your dad and I just shake our heads. We look at each other and say: “Me + you = Luke!” And then we laugh. We laugh because there is not the slightest inkling in either of your parents’ minds to think we may have ever wanted to do what you are doing. Yikes. All the pressure of a top-tier law school, and anytime there’s been an over-achieving something, you’ve achieved it. And with flying colors. It’s like God is just looking at your mom and dad with a glint in his eye saying, “See what I’ve done here.” And no kidding. 

No kidding. The stories I could tell. The book I might someday write about my Lukie Boy and all the ways he could’ve died but didn’t. A toddler bungee jumping onto concrete. My little “Peter Pan” locked inside the hot dark trunk of a car. Wild boy diving through a plate glass window. Mountain bike singing straight off a mountain path. A teenager working at camp, sending parents a picture of the tree fallen smack in the middle of the cabin while you slept. And that’s not to mention the myriad things I know nothing about that obviously happened while leading “adventure excursions” at a mountain camp. I’d be a fool not to remember the God who’s saved you. Again and again. I can rest in that. 

I may someday write a book about you, but my hunch is that the next book published will be yours. This is the most shocking thing about being a parent. It’s like seeing all of your own passions blown up on steroids. I’ve felt this about music. Watching my own obsession being magnified in the next generation. Writing, too. Luke, you are a master with words—for better or worse. Worse when you use your words and wit to embarrass your people with hilarious one-liners. Better when your words take on a life of their own in breathtaking blessing. I’ve been the recipient of both. God has gifted you with a splendid (but dangerous) gift. Your words, spoken and written, are magic. A superpower to be used for GOOD. 

“God, use my son only for good, and never for evil.” I’ve prayed this on repeat. And while I’ve spent nearly three decades watching my uber-conscientious son labor hard to always make the right decisions, I have known, too, about the battle…and the world we live in. You are entering all the way into the fray. Which means, you can count on this Mom (and Dad, too) to have your back for as long as we’re breathing, in battle prayer. 

Luke, God has you on this lawyer/humanitarian/justice path for a reason. He’s given you the heart for it. Not many of us have that. You’ve always been my son who feels all the feels. Remember? The euphoria of Disney. The mountaintop high of Wind River Ranch. Deep affection for friends and strangers. Crushing loss on the athletic field. My Lukie Boy, even as a child, you were always the first in our clan of Anderson males to accurately understand your mom’s deepest emotions, and then offer to pray. Love & Humility. The best version of you. 

You—this family’s favorite Cool Nerd. (Or our beloved Dingus, if it’s up to Jimmy.) You make us laugh and you make us proud and you make us humble. The whole clan of us (whether present in NYC or watching from the sidelines at home) will be cheering our heads off in wholehearted triumph for your legendary accomplishment. A top of the class elite law school grad.

Luke, I love you with all of my heart. To be honest, I wish God’s path had you closer to home. I wish I could spend more time with both you and Ali. I miss our old chats… I miss drinking coffee with you… I miss praying together. I miss knowing what’s going on in your life and in your head. But I am not sorry. I do not regret or resent what God has chosen for you. I see His hand in every season and every decision. And I can live with that. 

May God bless you and keep you, my son. May He turn his face toward you with grace and favor. May He lead you in his perfect peace. 

Shalom—with all my heart, 


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