Summer with you was beautiful. The older you get the more I fall in love with each one of you, and the more I want to slow down these years with you. I am all too aware of how quickly these days are flying by, and how before I know it my last baby will be in a cap and gown, and there will never again be a need for a ‘back to school’ post. As always the seasons seem to pass so swiftly, and here were are on the verge of another. As you prepare to start another school year, there are three things that I want to tell you.
Grades are not everything. While it is true that we have you attend school for an education, and we believe that is an unalienable right for you, as it should be for every child, academics has never been the most important thing to your Dad and I. I know that the the world around us places a great emphasis on grades and academics, and there is a place and necessity for them, but listen to me when I tell you that is not the most important thing. Your worth and value as a person does not come from a letter grade or a test score. There will be some subjects that you excel in, and there may be others that you struggle in, and that is all okay, because that is how life works in the real world. I want you to be diligent in your school work, and as long as that happens, your grades matter little to me. Because I know that an A or B or C or any other letter can never tell the whole story of the wonderful, incredible person that you are. So, yes, be diligent, follow directions, work hard, but please understand that grades are only one very small piece of a much bigger picture. There are far bigger, and dare I say far more important, lessons to be learned inside of your school than the ones that you will take tests about. I hope that you learn character traits that will serve you well, and that you will develop a personality filled with love, sensitivity and empathy. I want you to learn to be courageous, brave, and strong, and to lead by gentle example. I want you to learn how to navigate this world as a follower of Jesus by first learning how to navigate the halls of your public school.
You will never regret being kind. My hope for you this school year is that you would walk so closely with Jesus that you are a beautiful reflection of Him as you walk your hallways, sit in your classes, eat in the cafeteria, and kick a ball out on the pitch. More than good grades, I want you to be a good person. A good person is a kind person. Every single day you will have opportunities to be kind or to be unkind. You will have a choice to be a person who includes others or excludes others. There are kids inside your school who are picked last, picked on, and left out. Be intentional about looking for those kids – the ones that are different, not cool, the kids that are hurting, the kids who are new and nervous. When you find them, run to them, these are the kids that need your kindness – they are desperate for it. These are the kids that will remember your smile, your words of encouragement, your invitation to the lunch table, the recess circle, or the seat on the bus. You will never, not one single day, regret the kindness that you give, so give it freely, give it often.
It’s okay to make a mistake. In this life, and in your time at school, you will make mistakes, because you are human. You will fail, you will flounder, and you will fall, and unfortunately that is just a given if you have a heartbeat. But the real test of characters comes after the mistake is made. Your response to your mistake is important. Take responsibility for your mistakes and allow them to teach you to make a better choice the next time. Admit your mistake and apologize whenever necessary, and then move on. Keep walking forward, and heed the wise words of Maya Angelou “when you know better, you do better.” I don’t expect you to be perfect. Dad and I are not perfect. Nobody is. We love you regardless of any mistakes that you make in this life. Mistakes are good learning lessons for the rest of your life. They do not define you, but they do help you to grow and to change. Life is a journey, and there will be bumps along the way, there will be good days and there will also be bad days, but at the end of every day, know that you are beloved by your Creator, and that Dad and I will be right here to help you navigate this big, wonderful life you were given.