Your Dad and I read your letter, and we want to tell you this first: We love the young lady that you’re becoming. But we find ourselves shaking our heads, because your life feels like a sprint. You’ve gone from zero to 10 in 5.2 seconds.
I remember the way your wrinkly pink fist gripped my finger in your first hour of life. Who could forget?
But then life rolls on by, a series of doors leading to new rooms. It happens like this: We turn our eyes away for one second, and when we look again, you’ve taken another step through a new door.
They said this would happen. They were right.
So. About your letter. We can tell how much thought you put into your words, and how you so carefully positioned your letters on those lines of notebook paper. Your opening question still has us smiling:
“Dear Mom and Dad,
Have you read in the Bible that you are supposed to help others?”
Yes, dear daughter, we have read that in the Bible. In fact, if we’re reading the Good Book, we really can’t miss it, can we? If we cut out all the parts about helping others, the Bible would have a lot of holes, wouldn’t it?
I understand what you’re saying, Lydia. Because reading the Scriptures and doing what they say are two different things. Let me tell you this: I’ve got all kinds of Bible verses underlined with my green-grease pencil. And for the life of me, I’m still trying to figure out how to live what I believe.
Sure, it’s easy to say I’ve helped others when I go to a place like Haiti, but what would it look like to love my neighbor in a more intentional way, closer to home? I want to live the right answer to that question.
I think you’re trying to figure that one out, too. Because you wrote this:
“You two have always encouraged me to help the less-fortunate. So, I would really like it if you thought about letting me go on (a mission trip) in Omaha. By doing this, it will allow me to help others. This will make me feel spectacular inside. Imagine the genuine smile on someone’s face as I serve them hot soup.”
Good word, Lydia.
You’re only 10 now, but as you get older, the world will bombard you with things you should do to discover your own brand of Spectacular. The world delivers imposter-versions of spectacular in skinny jeans, teeth-whiteners and overpriced cosmetics. As you get older, someone might offer you spectacular in a glass bottle, .. or in a glass office at the top of the corporate ladder.
It will never fill.
The best kind of spectacular comes when we discover that Jesus can be found in places that sometimes smell funny. Mother Teresa said that poor people are “Jesus in disguise.”
Sometimes, Jesus hasn’t had a bath in a week, and sleeps by the river, and has only half a set of teeth. Are you ready for that?
More than anything, we’ve wanted you girls to know this:
The purpose of our lives … is to find purpose in Him.
The meaning of life … is to find meaning in Him.
The point of life … is to point to Him.
Lydia, it’s true. Life really is all about God.
And, the Bible is right: It is more blessed to give than receive. We promise you, the best gifts in life are the ones we give away. But we think you are learning that, too, because we read your letter.
It was your last line that had us laughing out loud: “Thank you so much for reading this letter and considering this. I love you, and you’re the best parents ever!”
Whoever said that flattery would get you nowhere? (wink)
But let me tell you this, Lydia Margaret Lee. We read every single word.
And you had us at spectacular.
Love, Mom and Dad
Lydia and I leave this afternoon for a weekend trip to Omaha, Nebraska, where we will serve with a homeless ministry, and also with a food and clothing ministry. Lydia wrote us her letter for a class project, in which fourth-graders were asked to write “persuasive letters” to their parents. We were persuaded. And now, we’d love your prayers.