Saturday, July 23, 2016

Be Brave with Kindness...a letter to my son

My Dearest Shelton,

WOW! You are going into the 8th grade! This seems surreal to me for several reasons. One, because I cannot believe you are THAT old already. Two, because I remember 8th grade like it was last week…last frickin’ week. And, in reality, it was 30 years ago! That’s how long these years will stick to your soul. These years matter.

You are entering one of the greatest and hardest years of your life, son. 8th grade is full of the excitement of being top-dog on campus, getting to graduate and go on to high school, and becoming more independent. Not to mention, all the changes going on in your body.

But I want you to remember a few things as you embark on the last year of your elementary school career…

I do not send you to school so you can get straight A’s or so you can be the best at anything. You are going to naturally learn what is needed to be learned because you aren’t afraid of thinking and working hard. That’s just a given. And you don’t have to earn my love or pride. I already love you as much as I possibly can! I am already proud of the man you are becoming. Those are just a given…you don’t have earn those with straight A’s nor can you ever lose them. I will always love you! But if you want straight A’s for yourself, do it for you...not me.

There will be a lot of competitions and contests at school…some of those will be just in your head. And I don’t care if you “win” a single one of them because those contests are not what really matter in life. I don’t care if you are the smartest, fastest, strongest, tallest, coolest, or funniest. In my mind, you already are all of these things. I don’t send you to school to “win” approval of others or to prove anything.

I send you to school so that you can practice being brave with kindness. Brave means that you choose love, compassion, and kindness over fear, over fitting in, over getting a laugh from the crowd, and over being a follower. Brave is a decision.

God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The teachers and other students you go to school with are some of God’s gifts to you. God trusts you with these people. So, treat each and every one of them as a gift. The ones who are hard to love are living a hard life…that’s why they are hard to love. Show them kindness anyways. You belong to each other. You are very blessed to have all of these gifts to unwrap!

If you see someone being left out, or hurt, or teased… part of your heart will hurt a little. Always trust that heartache! That’s you instinct. That’s your compassion. It is God’s signal to act on those feelings. When you feel compassion, you should be excited that God is speaking to you and asking you to act on His behalf. It means He trusts you and needs you to help one of His children. You might not feel as if you can step in and help the hurt right away… that’s okay. You can come home to talk to me about the situation and I can help you process the right way to handle the situation… I am always here for you! When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you.

You will never regret being compassionate and being brave with kindness. But you will regret the times you did nothing when God gave you an opportunity to do something. My biggest regrets in life are times when I should have been brave with kindness and I decided I was “too cool” to act upon God’s whispers of compassion. I was too chicken-shit to be brave. I regret that!

In the 8th grade, and all of your life, I pray that you are brave with kindness and that you never allow anyone or anything to take away your truth…

You are enough…
You are worthy…
You are loved…
Just as you are.
Simply because you are a beloved child of God.
And so is everyone else.

I will always love you to Googolplexian and back! Shine on, sweet boy!
Love, Mom

*I just finished reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, “Carry On, Warrior. The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life”. If you haven’t read this book yet, I recommend you do. I’ve used a few of Glennon’s sentences in my letter, because they expressed my sentiments so beautifully.