To My Oldest Boy,
After turning forty nearly two years ago, I found myself completely perplexed as to why people find such a milestone to be a negative impact on their lives. I mean, I felt like I was chasing a lifelong dream of becoming an author, had a beautiful marriage, wonderful children who were equally making their dreams come true, and still felt and looked super young. I just didn’t get the whole hating on forty thing…
But what I’ve discovered your last year in high school, Caleb, is that it isn’t an age that manifests itself as a presence, yet a moment such as you graduating high school that can carry such a heavy burden. This has truly been a year of reflection for me~yet also a year of beautiful discovery. I’ve pondered your eighteen years as if it were a test I was studying for or a book I was researching to write. It was as if I had all of a sudden woke up out my normalcy to discover that “normal” was about to change, BIG TIME. I would no longer have all four of my babies under one roof. But more so, I wouldn’t be apart of your everyday life. I mean, come on, that is a GIANT pill for a mother to swallow. Letting go is the ache of the heart, the impossible filtration of the mind, and the awkward pull of the universe. People have struggled with letting go for as long as God has had us walking this strange place called Earth.
Trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I am old enough to have a child heading to college, I;ve come up with ten things that I think you should take with you. So here are my top ten things you should experience in this next exciting, personal roadmap years of your life:
- Play football in the middle of the night. You just need to do this, no questions asked. Find some friends, an empty field, a pigskin, and go for it. You’ll laugh more than you know possible.
- Take a road trip to somewhere you’ve never been. Cram yourself in a car (safely of course) and take off with your best of friends. Laugh, play the music way too loud and discover a new landmark that you would have never seen if you hadn’t followed your life’s calling to go to another state to attend college.
- Talk to someone new. One of greatest I things I admire about your dad is that in college at our Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Thursday night meetings he would find a person he didn’t know every week, and talk to them. He would make them feel welcome, blanket them with the comfort of fellowship. Because this is what it’s all about, right?
- Courage forward. Find someone who is insecure but has no reason to be and point out all the brilliance they exude. I know you will find this because I have taught you so. Hug a classmate who has had less than you in this life and buy them lunch, or heck something more. Take a person in need into your heart and fill them with all the love I know you have to give.
- Branch out of school and church. You have to expand your circle more than just the Christian bubble that you will be cocooned in. Meet people that are different from you and learn from them. God brings us His people that need to be ministered to that are often times not found in church or chapel. Look at Jesus and the company he kept, blessed, and eventually saved. Those are the people who need us more than our awesome Christian brothers and sisters.
- Run far away from judgment and legalism. One of the greatest regrets I have during my college years was a legalistic, judgemental call I made in the name of God. Shame on me for not being a bridesmaid in my sister in law’s wedding because she was marrying a non-Christian. That is not my conviction to place and it is not our job to guilt people into God’s kingdom. It is our calling to love. That is how people will see Jesus through us.
- Fall in love. Fall in love with friends, mentors, pastors, teachers, parents, and anyone who may need your love on them like the air we breathe. Some of your life long friends will be met in the years to come. Enjoy every one of them and relish every time you say, “I love you, bro.”
- Call home. Yes, this may sound self-serving (and maybe it is, a little…) but the reality is you have this huge prayer and love chain residing in your childhood home that would love to hear all of your adventures. Your youngest sibling, Lilia, will be almost 8 when you graduate college. EEEEEkkkkkk. I know you want her to have your stunning influence all over her heart.
- Take a class that you have absolutely no interest in. You never know what you may get out of it, and how God may use you through the experience. It’s always good to try new things throughout your entire life.
- Journal, journal, and journal. One of the things I value the most in this life are my journals. I know I’m a writer, but even if that is or isn’t your life’s path, writing your life journey is POWERFUL! Not only does it help you filter through what you are going through in that moment, it is also your story to look back on. Your history, the memoir of God’s remarkable presence in every step of your walk you were meant to take.
So, my son, as I drop you off in two weeks at the doorstep of your next adventure, and I travel back to find my new normalcy, please take with you, my heart, my words, and yes my blogs. No, just kidding, my life experiences, that in essence have always existed to share with you and your siblings. My ventures as well as yours, are meant to grow, root and propel the remarkable people you will encounter in times of greatness and in moments of struggle. My sweet oldest boy, that is what life is all about.
I love you always and forever,