Monday, August 29, 2016

Words For My Sons On The First Day Of School

Wow, I somehow blinked the summer away and now, here we are, back at the first day of school for the boys.  What do I have to offer them on the year that's ahead for them in their academics and their daily lives with all of the ups and downs that come with navigating their youth and finding their identity? I offer them this:

Pray first. That is how you should start each day and go wherever your prayers lead you because that is where God wants you to be.

Be explorers. The world is bigger than your backyard. Don't let yourself be confined by a narrow vision, but ask questions because the answers may surprise you. Let yourself be open to the question and to questions that don't always have answers. There is tremendous elegance in the mystery and we are to stand in awe of a God who created all of it.

Find ways to serve others, even in the smallest of ways. It may be as simple as a smile or a kind word, as someone else may really need it, including your teachers.

No matter how smart you think you are, there is always someone smarter. Learn from them. And share what you've learned.

Always let your curiosity be sparked and challenged, as all wisdom truly begins with curiosity. People will tell you to follow your passions, but I will tell you to follow your curiosity. Why? Because passions wane, but curiosity doesn't. Curiosity is always an open door to another room, another place and another way of seeing the world.

Be brave. Don't let fear determine your fate. Fear keeps the world small but even in the smallest acts of courage the world grows in size, as will your life. And remember that God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Take mindful risks rooted in love. Fear keeps the baby bird in the nest and not in wondrous bright-skyed flight.

Know that life is a glorious mess. Everything isn't neat and tidy but it can be delightfully beautiful.

Joy is a choice not just something that happens to you by accident. Always choose joy and kindness.

Be open as you never know where inspiration will come from, who it will speak from or how it will change you, others and the world.

Failing does not make you a failure, quitting does. Everyone fails and it's how you deal with that failure that determines whether or not you are successful. Every single person makes mistakes and you will, too. Be gentle with yourself when you do because mistakes are often the best teacher and the best way to find the right path to take.

Always extend the amount of grace to others that you would want them to extend to you.

Don't judge yourself by others because you don't know their hurts or their struggles, their fears or their insecurities. Like icebergs, everyone is more than what you see above the water.  Deep down we are all afraid of not being accepted, but strive beyond mere popularity to establish a reputation of real character that people know you are someone who keeps your word and can be trusted.

Know that vulnerability is strength. When you open yourself to others, you will be hurt but don't let that hurt determine whether or not you allow yourself to become guarded and distrustful, cut off from this wild, improbable and great world.

Keep a good and tender heart.

Be a friend to someone who doesn't have one.

No one's an "other" once you listen to their story.

Strive to be a genius of generosity. There is greatness in giving.

There will always be struggles. Know that any kind of progress comes through struggles. Find the beauty in the struggle because that's life. Don't be dissuaded because something is hard because those things which are difficult are the ones that give us our greatest achievements. Dreams cannot become real if you aren't willing to work to make them so.

Never say that work you've done is "good enough," always strive for excellence in whatever you do.

Know that your habits become your character.

What you do is not as important as who you become.

Let your actions be filled with mercy and generosity and graciousness.

In the history of the world, there has never been another you and there will never be another you. How you impact that world will be uniquely in your own way; in a way that God has created only you to do. Your life is precious but that does not mean that you protect it from fear of being broken.

Don't worry about doing great things, strive to do all things in grace.

Listen more than you speak, you just might learn more.

Sometimes it is more important that you be kind than for you to be right.

Spend more time seeking to understand someone than in trying to impress someone.

No matter how bad or inadequate you feel, God is always present. You are not alone in your day.

Let yourself be astonished. The world is full of the miraculous. Remember, if Moses hadn't stopped and looked, he would not have encountered the burning bush. How many do we miss rushing about, not paying attention?

Sometimes you need to be bored. Everything shouldn't entertain and amuse you. It's from boredom that imagination is kindled.

Seek wisdom over intelligence. Wisdom is rooted in God and can be used to help others. Wisdom is not only gaining knowledge but knowing the right and wrong of how to apply it. You can gain facts and information with intelligence, but with wisdom you can gain an understanding of others, yourself and, ultimately, your Creator. Wisdom is limitless.

The most important things you can learn are honor, generosity, gratitude and kindness. They are also the most important things for you to be examples of to every person you come across during your day.

I know you will want to rush through this year and be done with it, but, one day, you will think otherwise. Take time to pause and see the blessing of the moment. See how sacred this short time you are given here really is.

Know that your mom's and my love are not based on merits, or awards, successes or failures, but only on that you are our children and take deep gladness in that you both are.

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