To my dear students (past and present),
I know I’ve probably bored you with these points before, but…I’m a firm believer in repetition, particularly when it comes to topics about which I feel so strongly. And I feel strongly about you, your lives, and your survival, so brace yourself—I’m stepping up onto my soapbox again.
HOPE. Hope every day. Nurture big dreams and small dreams, and those lesser dreams that come true—use them as evidence that the big ones might too. Hope for all God wants for you—hope along with Him. Hope with your mind and with your heart. Hope with confidence and humility. Hope with determination and submission.
ACT. Hope without effort is like a heart that doesn’t pump. All God wants for you is there to be found and grasped, but you’ll need do some of the work. You’ll need to pursue it, single-mindedly, until you’ve gotten within reach of it. Whether it’s a job, a relationship, or a state of mind, seek after it. Take decisive steps toward it. Hope and act and pray. And you will receive Heaven’s most precious blessings.
KNOW. That which you believe is anchored deep. But you’re heading into uncharted waters where anchors aren’t ripped up as much as nudged up one imperceptible influence at a time. I’ve seen it before: something lethargic sets in and a faith that was once critical to survival becomes an afterthought, then a vestige of the past. Know. Know what you believe and cling to it. Feed it. Fuel it. Fight for it. By whatever means works best. Make it the foundation of your identity—of who you are and why you are. As I wrote recently, “If you feel that God is hurting you, ignoring you, rejecting you, or neglecting you, question your conclusions—not Him.” The devil loves nothing more than to discredit those through whom God shines most brightly. Protect yourself from his onslaughts with God’s Word and keep your spiritual muscles taut and toned. Don’t let what you know become a passive thing. It is your most precious and defining possession.
LOVE. I know you’re expecting me to launch into a litany about loving others the way God loves us, listening, exhorting, yadda, yadda, yadda. Well, guess what? I’m not going to! Loving others is often less of a challenge than loving ourselves and that’s my greatest concern right now. God has created you so wonderfully. You hold the potential to embolden, soothe, motivate and heal others. You must believe that what God has placed in you is worthy and precious and capable of impacting your world. You must repeat to yourself as often and as loudly as necessary that you have been designed very specifically for an important purpose. If you can inspire trust and invite honesty and stir compassion and point to God, you are more than an assortment of physical traits. You are beyond worth. There will always be aspects of yourself that you’ll be dissatisfied with, but just as you choose to see beyond the shortcomings of those you love, you must look beyond your own as well if you are to release the full potential God has so carefully placed in you. (And yes, the idiom of the “pot calling the kettle black” does come to mind!)
Transition won’t kill you, but if you live it right, it just might refine you. Newness, lostness and discombobulatedness cannot be entirely avoided in this life. But if we can make of our changes and challenges platforms for deliberate, sought-after growth, they will not be wasted.
More next week—with tons of pictures, I promise.
My mom is less fond of him when he sits there, all cute and pudgy,
eating the leaves off her rose bushes one by one. He holds
them in his little hands and just chomps away while
I try to make friends and my mom utters
empty threats. Too cute to skewer
or to ring that striped neck.
Bruised and battered after a trip down
the outside steps. Swollen, blue foot
and bloody knee, but otherwise OK.