Your mom and I can’t wait to meet you. We chose your name for a few reasons. We wanted a biblical name, and we wanted it to be short and start with an A. So we thought of Ava: it is a short form of the word “chava,” which means “life” or “living one,” and is the Hebrew form of Eve, the most beautiful woman who ever lived.
We waited a long time to have you join us. For many years we didn’t feel we were in a place where you could grow up with all of the advantages that we wanted for you. Now we finally feel that we are in that good place. You will grow up with us on a farm, where you can play with animals and grow your own food. We wanted you to grow up in a place like so many have in history—among the hills and chirping birds; enjoying cool breezes with the responsibility of caring for creatures that depend on you.
Ava, I’m looking forward to teaching you how to get the most out of life. We were created to love, not only to be loved. I want to show you that the law of life is embedded into everything around us. Trees breathe what we exhale and absorb all the impurities so that they can give us fresh air in turn. As you learn from nature, you may start to recognize things that aren’t right in the world around you. You will quickly see that there are two ways of thinking that compete with each other in the world: love and selfishness. Ava, always choose love.
We humans have been on this earth for only a few millenia. Though popular culture, media, and public education may tell you that you came from a monkey and have no purpose, don’t believe that. You came from the hand of God, and you’re destined to live forever some day!
Your mom and I believe that we humans were created by Jesus. There was a big battle in the universe, and heaven’s family was broken. But then Jesus became one of us and redeemed us. He is now our representative, friend, and ambassador in heaven. He has promised that one day soon He will return to save those who want to be saved. Ava, even if your mom and I sleep in the dust before this great event, the good news is that He has promised to give life again to all who believe in Him. He is on your side, so don’t ever be afraid.
Keep your eyes on Jesus. He is your friend. He will never leave you; never betray you; never stop loving you.
Ava, you need to know that the world you will grow up in will be very different from the world I grew up in. And the world I grew up in was very different from the one your grandparents grew up in.
Humanity has become very confused on many issues. I can’t even predict what life will be like just a few years from now, say, on your fifth birthday. Life was intended to be simple. We were created to live in the midst of a garden eating delicious fruit, playing with our friends, running with lions and hippos, and never being sick or sad.
But Ava, the world is a different place today. Selfishness is believed to be the better way by many in the world, and because of that, bad things happen. There may be times when you feel alone, and you hurt. Some think the answer to those feelings is drugs or alcohol, but it’s not, so stay away from both. Some think the answer to the meaning of life is survival of the fittest, fastest, thinnest, prettiest, or richest. But Ava, don’t be tricked into thinking that any of that truly matters.
Don’t ever forget you were created for something special; you are destined for greatness. You will one day soar with eagles, eat exotic fruits on other planets, and laugh with friends while visiting them in other galaxies. You will run and not get tired. You will play and not get hurt.
Ava, you’re entering a world that tells girls they must look a certain way in order to be liked. The world will try to make you think there is only one way for others to like you. Don’t fall for this deception. The world will present unkind ideas about how boys and girls should interact. I pray I can show you the best example of how a boy is supposed to treat a girl by how you see me treat your mom. There is no excuse for anyone ever to yell at you, or touch you in any way that makes you uncomfortable. Never feel ashamed for believing that your body is beautiful and sacred, and that everyone should respect you as much as you respect yourself.
Ava, I’m going to teach you to respect yourself. I’m going to teach you how to be self-sufficient, to be temperate, to be a great saleswoman, and how to give an amazing presentation. I want to teach you how to influence people, run a company, think strategically, and make a profit. But those are secondary to teaching you how to be kind, candid, generous, patient, and loving. So I pray you will have the courtesy of Rebekah, the candor of Abigail, and the courage of Esther.
But Ava, there will be times you let yourself down or are let down by others. Don’t despair; we all make mistakes. Just get back up and try again. Failure is your friend, not your enemy. Never be afraid of trying and failing.
Ava, keep your eyes on Jesus. He is not who the world says He is. He is your friend. He will never leave you; never betray you; never stop loving you. When you get impatient, look to His patience. When you get discouraged, look to His courage. When you get fearful, look to His fearlessness. When you feel weak, rely on His strength.
You’re going to be tempted to look in all directions but His. But Ava, I promise: if you turn your eyes upon Jesus and look into His wonderful face, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and His amazing grace.
I love you.
(The guy who, if Jesus doesn’t return by that time, will be your boyfriend for the next 18 years, or until I approve of your next boyfriend.)
Jared Thurmon is liaison for strategic partnerships with Adventist Review Ministries.