To my beautiful girl on her 7th birthday.
My sweet Kaia,
This week, you will be seven. Burning in my heart are the things I long for you to know as you get older and blossom into a young woman. My hope is that you will return to these birthday letters as you grow and it will remind you of your mother’s love and desires for her most precious little girl. These are my words to you this year as you turn seven.
You are kind. Don’t ever lose that. This world will try to rob you of that quality. It will tell you that you need to think of yourself first. It will tell you that the hurts you get in this life would be less if you hardened your heart and didn’t let it feel such empathy. This world will tell you that to get ahead you need to toughen up. This world will tell you that it’s only important to be kind to those who treat you well. That you are not required to be kind to everyone. It will tell you that kindness makes you weak and easy to take advantage of.
But I tell you, sweet girl, that to get ahead in God’s economy, you are doing it right. You never grab candy at the bank, stickers from the doctor’s office, or a treat at the store without getting some for your brothers, even when they’re not there to see, even when they don’t thank you as they should. You never enjoy anything without wishing your friends were there to share in it. You let others play with your new toy, even before you’ve had a chance yourself. You graciously let others take their turn first, even when they pushed you to get in front. Your joy seems incomplete until you have someone to share it with, even when it means less for you.
Don’t let yourself become jaded by the ways of this world. Continue to be a good friend, thinking of their needs and serving them. Continue to be a peacemaker, and as much as possible, try to get along with everyone. This is not the same thing as saying try to please everyone. Don’t even bother, you will never please everyone and those who seek to make everyone happy, sell their authenticity for approval. People pleasers are the most tragic kind of fraud, because not only are they fake to others, they also rob themselves of the opportunity for real community, bearing one another’s burdens, and messy grace.
Being a peacemaker means you’re willing to relinquish your personal rights when you seek to understand another person. You are willing to listen, you are willing to try to see things through God lenses, you are willing to compromise on things that you want in order to protect relationships and people.
Being a peacemaker does not mean compromising on the things of God. That’s why it’s so important to know what the foundational things are. They are not which version of the Bible you read, whether you own a TV or homeschool, or if you vote Republican. Learn the difference. But of the true things, on those, stand firm.
Keep your feet planted in His word, and stand up for justice. Don’t let someone be bullied and friendless when you are around. Don’t ignore the tugging at your conscience when God is willing you to speak up against something that’s not right. Stand up and raise your voice about things that God cares about. Do not be afraid to offend people in these things, because the truth is, the gospel is offensive to this world.
Remember when you were in ballet and Miss Emily had you practice spinning around and each time you had a spot on the wall you were supposed to focus on as you turned? What happens if you don’t whip your head around and find that one spot? You get dizzy and fall down. Please God. Please Him alone and don’t worry about the rest. Let Him be your one spot. Let His be the only approval you seek. It’s the only way to keep your footing. It’s the only way to make your dance beautiful.
Join me for Wednesday’s post: Letters to my Daughter: On Being Beautiful