News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Why I won’t be home for Christmas

EDITORS’ NOTE: A Navy JAG officer in Iraq, whose named here has been changed to Robert Brick for security reasons, wrote the following Christmas letter to his four-month-old daughter, relayed to Baptist Press courtesy of the Florida Baptist Witness.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (BP)–Dear Isabella,
You will soon celebrate your first Christmas! Since I can’t be there with you, I’m writing this letter to tell you how much I love you and how much I wish I could be there with you. You won’t remember this first Christmas (at least I don’t remember anything from when I was four months old!), but when you look back on the pictures someday, I want you to know why your Daddy wasn’t there and know how badly he wanted to be.

Throughout the two months that I’ve been here in Iraq, you and Mommy have always been in my thoughts and prayers. The walls of the tiny room I live in (an old prison cell) here at Abu Ghraib are covered with pictures of you and your beautiful Mommy. You are my love and my inspiration. While my heart hurts when I look at your pictures, they also remind me of the real reason I am here.

You see, Isabella, freedom isn’t free. A wise man once said that the only thing that must happen for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing. Many generations of Americans fought and died for the freedom and liberty that you, Mommy and I are blessed with in America. In fact, one of your forefathers fought in nearly every war the United States fought in the 20th century. This is why I volunteered to come to Iraq: not because I wanted to miss six of your first seven months of life, but because I wanted to do my small part to ensure that we continue to be blessed with freedom and liberty in the United States.

I met a little Iraqi girl the other day. When I smiled at her, she walked up to me. I knelt down and gave her a Tootsie Pop. She then got the biggest smile on her face and said, “Thank you,” in her language. Isabella, one of the reasons your Daddy isn’t with you this Christmas is so that little girl can live in freedom and even so that she can go to school. You see, there are people in this world who don’t think little girls should be able to go to school (I’m sure on some days in the future you will probably agree with them!).

Some people here don’t believe in a God of love and grace. Instead, they believe in a god of laws, fear and judgment and they want to impose this false god on the rest of the world. We are fighting them here, so we don’t have to fight them back home. And if that little girl were to meet you in a few years, I think she would thank you, Isabella, for the small sacrifice you made so she could be free.

While there are holidays that celebrate military sacrifice, I think Christmas best illustrates sacrificial love. We fight for freedom and liberty here on earth, but God sent Jesus to earth on Christmas Day so we could enjoy eternal freedom and liberty from sin and judgment.

Mommy will explain to you that Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Our family tradition of reading Luke 2 before we open gifts serves to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. Before you open gifts, Mommy will play the video we recorded of me reading that passage.

We celebrate Christmas by giving gifts, because Jesus was God’s greatest gift to us. The Bible tells us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

We also know that “we love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). So, Isabella, you see that Christmas is really about God’s love for us and the freedom and liberty from sin that we can enjoy because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I know that might not mean much to you today, but I pray that someday you will understand and accept God’s gift.

Isabella, know that you are not alone this Christmas. Be thankful that you have such a wonderful, loving and godly Mommy, but also know there are over 100,000 boys and girls across America who will celebrate Christmas without their Daddy or Mommy just like you. And remember that millions of other Americans have made the same sacrifice throughout our country’s history. Just as those families grew stronger through their experiences, so too will our family grow stronger. Lord willing, we will be together next Christmas and many Christmases thereafter. We will appreciate even more every Christmas we are blessed to share together.

Merry Christmas, Isabella!

I love you, Daddy

    About the Author

  • Robert Brick