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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Unofficial Birthday Post

Updated: May 24, 2022

I guess this is an unofficial birthday blog post. Unofficial, since I used to write these on the regular back in the BoyMom days, but not so much anymore. And also unofficial because I am celebrating two sons today, but I’m only writing about one. (Sorry, Grant. Please know I am well aware—and I mean this—of the incredible blessing God delivered from my womb 29 years ago. You are a ridiculously amazing man, and a most incredible Dad, rivaled only by the one who raised you. All true. So Happiest Birthday. But I’m sorry to say, this post isn’t about you.) It’s about Jimmy.

Jimmy, my surprise youngest, son not of my womb, but most certainly son of my heart. This post is about you.

I’ve been thinking about you lately. Maybe it started a couple of weeks ago when I was perusing my bookshelves, and I happened to spot two favorites, sitting side-by-side. Books which always make me think of Jimmy. (I know. A blog post about my nerdy books would hardly be a birthday blessing. So I’ll save comments about those for my conclusion, and give you permission to stop reading, if you choose.) Also—I’ve been thinking about you this week, because I’ve been preparing my lecture for next week’s college class, and I’ll be mentioning you in a couple of stories. (Good ones, don’t worry. No plans to divulge any secrets about broken hands or middle-of-the-night escapades. I promise.)

So, yesterday I asked you to take a picture of your tattoo and text it to me. (I searched high and low through my own photos, and somehow that amazing artwork spanning the inside of your entire forearm seems to be hidden in every single one.) I needed the photo for a slide presentation, for my class. Because next Tuesday afternoon, just before we board an airplane together, bound for our Grand Canyon spring break adventure, I plan to tell a bit of your story.

We’ll be talking about SHALOM. And Jeremiah 29:11. And what it means to “prosper.” And I’ll show my students the picture of your tattoo, and I’ll tell them about a young man who became my son, when years ago, a friend looked at me and said, “Sonya, Shalom.” And I heard the voice of God. (You can reread that story here, if you’ve forgotten the details.)

I will also be telling my students about what it means to shalom-prosper. (Here’s another old post, where I wrote about that.) "May you fulfill everything God has made you to be.” This is the shalom of Jeremiah 29. I will tell my students about this son of mine—who happens to be just about their age—and who is on this journey of discovering his own God-given brilliance. And I’ll talk about a mom who watches this young man’s life unfold with utter wonder.

You, Jimmy, are a wonder.

There’s one more blog post I’ll mention, as well as one more nerdy word I’ll be sharing with my students on Tuesday. It’s this Greek word, SOZO. Which again, I know, sounds boring. But the word is actually crazy amazing. It’s basically the miracle of Jesus’s shalom salvation-healing in a person’s life, and it is the heart of the prayer I’ve prayed, in all sorts of ways, for you and your brothers, for most of your lives. (Even before I knew you, in some mysterious way, I must have been praying for you.)

And I truly believe God is answering my prayer.

Because, Jimmy, you are a miracle, in so many ways. A miracle of resilience, having endured a lifetime of mind-blowing challenges, and coming out on top. You are a miracle of perseverance. You have fought hard and never given up, allowing the hardest things in life to shape your character and sharpen your resolve, when any other person would have allowed the hard stuff to rob them of life.

You are David fighting Goliath. (And here is where I’m going to press pause for a minute, to talk about a book.) This guy, Malcolm Gladwell, wrote this brilliant book called David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. And it’s not a book about the Bible, at all. It’s actually a book about these certain hard-to-explain resilient people, who somehow face the worst of life’s suffering and adversity and come through with brilliance and strength to take on the world.

Like my Jimmy.

There’s this other book, too—by Dr. Carol Dweck. A book called Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfill Your Potential. It’s a book about two kinds of people—those who get stuck in life, because they’re afraid to try things when they think they might fail. And those who are willing to risk all kinds of failure in a resilient attempt to overcome—meaning people like you, Jimmy. (Just in case you’re still reading.)

So today, in this unofficial birthday blog post, I want to honor my son—JIMMY—who is a real-life example of the very verse he has inked down his arm. An example of a young man whom God has chosen to shalom-prosper. The son God chose, before the creation of the world, to be mine (and Dad’s) because of some kind of wonderful shalom-miracle. A David in a world of Goliaths, who has taken his fistful of stones, and who has said YES to the one life God has given him.

May you fulfill everything God has made you to be.

Shalom, My Son. I love you.

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