There are approximately 10,952 things I want you to know, but these 15 are the ones I absolutely, positively pray that you will never, ever forget.
1 – I will always love you.
As in, you can’t get de-loved in this house — or in this life. You might just make massive plumes of steam roll out of my ears, but I’ll never, ever un-love you.
2 – You are brave.
I can’t tell you that enough. I already marvel at what you can do, little ones. I love how you think big and believe in doing justice and how you gather up coins and prayers like every single one can make a difference. And you’re absolutely right. They can. They do! You said it first: “You don’t have to be a grown-up to do big things for God.”
3 – You are enough.
The world will tell you there’s something better for your life — if you’d only try harder, get cuter, make the Honor Roll, tell a better joke, drive a better car, shrink into a smaller pair of jeans. You’ll face some really big “Not Enoughs” in this life. And girls, those Not-Enoughs are fierce and stubborn.
Here’s the deal: I’ve seen what you’re made of: you’re brave enough to say “Enough!” to the Not-Enoughs.
4 – No one in this world is ever too far from grace.
I want to grab you by the shoulders for this one, and tell you eye to eye. No one is too far. No one. Remember that truth, when you want to write someone off. Remember that, when the grace-hungry “someone” is looking at you in the mirror.
5 – Take good notes.
Keep a prayer journal. Tell your diary how you’re mad at the world, and how you’re mad at me. Write a letter to the editor at least once. Fold up love letters in actual envelopes. Pen some really bad poetry, and — who knows? — you might end up with a masterpiece when you weren’t even looking. Hand-write your recipes. And when you get to college, write home to your mother.
6 – You will want to give up. Don’t.
There are worse things in life than failing. First on the list: Not trying.
Important lessons are learned in those moments when things don’t turn out the way you hoped, and I’ve only begun to learn it. As brave as you are, those bitter failures might make you even braver.
7 – It really is all about Jesus.
Someone might say this one should be first on the list. But I saved it for the middle. You wanna know why? Because that’s where you’ll need to remember it most–when you’re smack-dab in the middle. In the middle of life,
of the valley,
of the struggle,
of the dark,
in the middle of your crumb-covered kitchen floor
while you’re on your knees
begging for the good grace of God
to rescue you.
Make this one here — No. 7 — your religion. You will never regret it.
8 – Love people just as they are, not as you wish them to be.
Not everyone believes that “it is all about Jesus.” Love them anyway.
Also, not everyone is nice or brave or thinking grace is an actual thing. Oh! And some people smell funny and say naughty words. (You don’t have to up-and-marry the person; just love ’em. )
9 – The Bible will freak you out.
Keep reading. It’s not the end of the book.
10 – Always leave an empty seat at the table.
Everyone wants to know they belong. Let them know they do. Keep a chair open, and let them do most of the talking.
11 – Remember, I’m always here.
You had no trouble letting me know that you needed me at 3 a.m. when you were my baby. Why change things up now? Look, you’ll always be my baby.
12 — Go to church.
Yes some of the people there will annoy you. But guess what? You will annoy some of the people there. Go anyway. Church was God’s idea. So let’s all try to make it work. It’s a crazy system, but you’ll find some of your best friends there. And they’ll be the ones at your kids’ weddings. And depending on how things turn out, they will be at your very own funeral.
13 – Be nice to old people.
I say this somewhat selfishly, because I’m going to be an old person someday, God-willing. And come to think of it, so will you. Do unto others, girls, do unto others.
14 – Live outside of your comfort zone.
That’s where a lot of the cool stuff happens. And you are cool people. I’d hate for you to miss out.
15 – It’s good to come home.
We will forever love your texts and your Snapchat messages and your phone calls and your letters that we begged you for (see No. 5), but we will never tire of your sweet cheeks and your hugs and the way you make fun of us in the most endearing ways possible. We’ll be waiting on the porch. As in, hours before your headlights show up in the driveway.
As long as I live, I’ll be waiting on the porch for you…