Thursday, August 14, 2014

A letter to my kids as they prepare for a new school year

You guys are going back to school on Monday! I hope you’re looking forward to a great year. Your mother & I are so proud of you guys and are praying it’s great. Believe it or not I remember what it was like to go back to school after summer break. I remember being nervous and excited and a little scared-and that was last year when I started seminary. So I wanted to tell you guys some things that I hope will help you this year.

—Everyone else is as nervous as you are. I know that’s probably hard to believe. I know there’s a group of super cool kids who everyone wants to be like and everyone wants to be friends with. But even they are nervous. Even they want to be accepted. They just fake it better than everyone else. If you can get hold of this it will make your time in school so much more enjoyable! When I finally got it school was so much more fun. I know, you’re surprised that dear old dad wasn’t one of the cool kids. But believe it or not, socially awkward band nerds aren’t always at the top of the high school totem pole. But when I figured out that everyone else was as nervous as me life got so much better!

—Just because everyone else wants to be someone’s friend doesn’t mean they’ll be a good friend. This is in reference to those super cool kids. I know that group. They’re the coolest and everyone wants to be with them. Here’s the thing-that doesn’t mean they’ll be good friends. In fact, some of the super cool kids could be pretty lousy friends. I’m not saying to ignore them or be mean to them. We ought to try to show the love of Jesus everyone, whether they’re good friends to us or not. Just keep in mind that if you’re not friends with the coolest person in the universe, that’s not actually the end of the world.

—Don’t let your value be determined by other people. Here’s what I mean-sometimes there are people who can just crush you. With a word, a laugh, or a lie they can ruin your day. And when your day gets ruined it’s easy to forget about our real value. When we’re not in the group we want to be in at school, when other kids are mean on the playground, when people who were your friend last year decide you aren’t cool enough for them this year it can make us feel pretty worthless. But listen carefully-your value isn’t determined by other people. Your value is determined by the One who made you. You are valuable because God says you’re valuable. And even more, you’re valuable because God has demonstrated that  you’re valuable. Jesus died for you. Read that sentence again. I’ll wait. If Jesus died for you then what difference does it make what someone who can’t even match their socks says? 

—People can be mean and will hurt your feelings. That’s not fair but that’s the way it is. When that happens, forgive them as Jesus forgives you. Love them as Jesus loves you. Don’t try to hurt them back. I’ll do that for you. Just kidding. Kind of.

—If your friends talk about other people, know that they’ll talk about you too. That’s just the way things are. So if you’re with a group of people who like to talk about others you need to decide if those are the kinds of folks you want to make memories with.

—You’re going to make mistakes. Some will be small. Some will be big. When it happens, remember that your mother & I love you because of who you are, not because of what you do. We love you because you’re ours and nothing can change that. Let us know what’s going on and we’ll figure it out together.

—Joy only comes from Jesus. You can find happiness in a lot of places. But lasting, forever, never-ending, always and forever joy only comes from Jesus. Jesus is so serious about our joy that He died for us! So don’t rest your hopes on things that won’t last.

—You will likely never regret doing what’s right.

—You will likely never fail to regret doing what’s wrong.

—Be a friend to the person who has none. This won't be easy. It won't be the cool thing to do. It will be awkward and uncomfortable. Do it anyway. It’s the kind of thing Jesus would do and we want to be like Him.

—When you have a bad day, telling it to God helps. Telling mom and dad helps too. So does ice cream. So let's plan on doing all 3, together, this year.

—Your life is making an impact for God’s glory. This is the most important one. You probably think you have to be grown to do big things for God’s glory. But that’s just not true. Right now, as you live for the glory of God, as you try to walk in obedience to Jesus and do the things He would do, right now you’re making an impact for Him. Every step of obedience is a lasting step.  

—We love you so much and are so proud of you! We don’t know why God chose us to be your parents but we are so glad He did! You guys are amazing! I love you more than you can know and can’t wait to share this new school year with you!