Yesterday, as we were leaving Tuscaloosa, I was checking my Google Reader and reading my blogs. Natalie at Natalie’s Sentiments wrote a post about what kind of legacy she would like to leave her children if something were to happen to her. So I read her post and was touched and so on the way home I jotted into my phone some things that I want Charlotte to know. Since I will keep a copy of my blog and my phone isn’t a super safe place I thought I would write them down for her.
1. Jesus loves you. I want you to fall deeply in love with Jesus. I want you to thirst and hunger for him and His Word. He loves you no matter what you do or have done. He gave himself for you. On the cross he saw your face. God loves you an infinite amount. More than anyone else will ever even begin to love you. I want you to research and explore and figure out the truths of the Bible for your self. I want you to want to love Jesus. I pray each day that we are able to instill a deep rooted love for your Savior as you grow up so that as you reach an age of maturity you can come to him.
2. Your family loves you. Exponentially. No matter what. There is nothing that you can do that will make us love you any less and nothing that you can do that will make us love you any more. You are a blessing to our family and we would do anything for you. Know that we have all made our share of mistakes and when you make your mistakes you shouldn’t feel like you have to hide them from us. We don’t expect you to be perfect, we just expect you to be Charlotte. And while we will be so proud of all of your accomplishments in life, we are the most proud just to be your parents.
3. Your spouse is the most important decision you will ever make. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings. The only person that you get to choose to be in your family is your spouse. Choose wisely. Choose someone who loves you more than they love them self. Choose someone who pursues Christ first so that as you both draw near to Christ you will draw near to each other. Choose someone who makes you laugh and who you can be yourself with. Choose someone who complements your personality so that together you make one, unified, great team. Choose someone that you can’t imagine yourself being without. Take time to date — for a long time — before getting married so that when you get married, you are marrying your best friend. This isn’t a decision that you can return or get a refund on. Take the time to pray about the decision and ask people that you respect their advice so that you know when you make that commitment that it is for life.
4. Don’t spend time being intimidated by others/jealous of others. Everyone is a person just like you. Just because you feel like they do something better than you doesn’t mean that they don’t think that you do that same thing better than them. It is unproductive to put yourself in a lineup with others to see how you compare. You are your own person with your own strengths and weaknesses just like them. You were made EXACTLY like you are for a reason. We would not change one thing about you and you shouldn’t allow anyone else to make you feel badly about yourself.
5. Treat everyone — and I mean everyone — as someone of importance. Just as you can’t let others make you feel bad about yourself you also can’t cause others to feel bad about themselves. Everyone is an equal and the more you treat everyone that way the better your life experiences will be. Being kind and generous to someone could positively affect their life in a way that you may never know. Remember that those that you come in contact with could be having a bad day just like you and a kind or encouraging word from you could totally change their day. It is the mark of a true lady if you can treat everyone as if they were the most important person in your world while you are dealing with them. Go out of your way to do that and pray that someone is going out of their way to do that for you.
6. Be friends with people most like the person that you want to be and don’t waste energy on people who don’t value your friendship. You will have friends that you regret and that’s part of growing up. But strive to only be close friends with those that model traits that you want to learn. Place a high value on your friendships and work to keep them a priority in your life. Take time to go out with your girlfriends and enjoy life with them. Close friends make your greatest joys more sweet and your greatest sorrows less intense. Work to keep close friends close. And don’t spend time making someone a priority if they don’t make you one. Your life is too precious to use a lot of energy trying to salvage a relationship if you are the only one working on it. That’s not to say that you should lose friends easily, but if, after a period of time, you are still the only one working on a relationship then stop putting so much of your energy into it and if the relationship is supposed to continue the other person will start picking up the slack.
7. Don’t be afraid to fail. We learn the most when we fail. We have all failed at something and most of the time we are the most appreciative of the times that we fail. We learn something about ourselves when we try something and don’t achieve our goal. So take a risk. Apply for the fellowship. Try out for the organization. Buy the new fashion statement. Sometimes the things that we go into expecting to be turned away from are the things that mold us the most into the person that we want to be. If you go into something with good aspirations it’s ok if they don’t always work out the way you thought they were going to. And sometimes when you take a risk you are rewarded, but without taking the risk you can’t possibly know what the positive outcome could be.
8. It is ok to say no. Your time is one of your most precious commodities. You only get so much time at home with your family before you go to college. Once you leave for school you can never get that time back. Put a high priority on your family life so that you don’t have any regrets. And when you get older know that your family is your priority and if that means that you can’t chair such and such committee or that your job is no longer working for you, then it’s your responsibility to re prioritize the extracurricular things in your life so that your family remains the most important and gets the best of your time instead of the leftovers. There will be times when you are stressed and busy and your family gets your last straw instead of your first one, but strive to make those times few and far between. It’s ok to say no when someone asks you to do something. Remember that. In all area’s of your life. It’s ok to say no if what is being asked or offered isn’t in the best interest for you and your family.
9. There is nothing that compares to having children. Whether by birth or by adoption strive to have children. They will be your crowning jewel in your life. You have only been with us for five short months but already we can’t imagine our life without you. We look forward to watching you grow and experience those wonderful moments in your life. Watching your eyes light up on Christmas morning. Seeing the pride in your eyes when you get your first college acceptance letter. Hearing the excitement in your voice when you learn something new at school. We already love watching you figure out how to roll over and hear yourself babble. You make us more of a family than we could have ever been without you. That is a true gift and one that you should not miss out on.
10. But make sure that you enjoy being a married couple before you have kids and after you have kids make sure you make your marriage a priority. Sometimes in life we are so focused on the next thing that we forget the thing right in front of us. The years in your marriage before children should be a time for you to enjoy being married. Take trips. Try new classes. Join a new group. Get involved with other couples. Learn what it means to be married and enjoy that time. Things change drastically once children come and you will never be that spontaneous again. And after children, make sure that you make time for each other. Go on dates. Set aside a set number of times a month to get a babysitter and go out. Remember that the most important thing that you can do for your children is to show them a steady, healthy, flourishing marriage.
Have I forgotten something? A hugely important life lesson that Charlotte needs to know? Please let me know if I did. I would love to hear what you think are the most important things to tell your children or your family.