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these ten things

Maggie came home today in a blaze of drama. I forget how turbulent 8th grade life can be until she comes home on a wave of he-said, she-saids. Texting. Texting. Texting. All I can hear are bits of a story, half told while she talks and then abandons the thought to respond to something I can't see on the screen.

While I rinsed off dishes I warned her, "Be careful of texting during high emotion, it doesn't convey tone or inflection. Plus you are more unforgiving with words in print than you are in person."
She knows. Of course she does.

When she went on her retreat a while back, I wrote her a letter. In the letter I said many things, among them ten things I knew of life as she stands at the precipice of high school, an experience I told her that will "not leave her the same as it greeted her". My ten things were as follows:

1. You are human and you are not perfect--don’t expect that of yourself. Don’t expect that of your friends and your family either.


2. Boys are weird. Let them be--they have gifts to share as well.


3. When making a choice, choose with the utmost care--your choices will define you whether you like it or not.


4. Don’t dismiss adventure in the world--but don’t ignore the adventure right outside your back door either. Sometimes the greatest joy is in the place you never thought to look.


5. Listen to the Holy Spirit. If you can’t listen to God and Jesus feels too heavy, listen to the Spirit. She’s the talker, she’s the silent worker of all the magic in the world.


6. You can just walk away from crazy. You don’t even have to tell it you’re leaving.


7. Don’t ever laugh-off something that hurt you. There is something soul-stripping in it.


8. Be kind. Bekindbekindbekind. To everyone. There is never enough of it.


9. You can meet unkindness with peace; unfairness with civility; Rudeness with manners.


10. And lastly, the best advice I ever received: Decide who you want to be, and BE that person. In life, you will receive many invitations from people whose brokenness, or jealousy, or unkindness, or selfishness or ignorance will tempt you to stray from the kind of person you want to be. Don’t do that. What holds true for your social calendar also holds true for your life--Just because you receive an invitation doesn’t mean you have to go to the party.

But it was #6 I knew she would overlook. #6 is the hardest to see, the hardest to admit. There are times you will find yourself the driver of the crazy-train...no idea how you got there, and tons and tons of self-righteousness fury to imagine you are right.
But, no. Well, maybe.
But maybe not.

And there are times you are the passenger on someone else's crazy-train. No idea how you got there, and tons and tons of self-righteousness fury to imagine they are right.
But, no. Well, maybe.
But maybe not.

I said to Mags...as she paced. As she typed furiously. A hopeful suggestion as I walked by with a basket of laundry. "You can just walk away from crazy. You don't even have to tell it you're leaving."

She glanced at me, distracted. "What?"
"Nothing."

P.S. Spoiler alert: She did not get off the crazy-train. She basically kidnapped everyone, forced them aboard and drove it into the wall of the station. And miraculously? Everyone is fine. Absolutely disproving my theory.

Sigh. Wish me so much luck.

["These ten things was originally published March 2019]


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