To My Dearest Nieces and Nephews:
In just under a month, you will be going back to school for another year- Wow! Before you go, I would like to tell you a story.
When I was in school, I was always a little different but like some of the other kids in a bad way.
I did not look like the others, and I sometimes walked funny. I didn’t understand the jokes being said, and sometimes I confused what a gesture meant. For these reasons, I often ended up with no friends, and got teased a lot. Worst of all, I saw teasing as a means to become a part of everyone else so I teased them back. I also teased people who were like me in the hopes that I would become cool. I did not love my neighbor as myself, and I did not stand up for my neighbor when they needed help.
Instead of talking to people who were on the out skirts, I either ignored them or teased back. I never invited them to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, we sat and played by ourselves, and/or tried to become bullies so we would be welcomed by the bullies. The only reward we got from that was being very lonely.
I still think about those children from my school days every day. I wonder if any of them remember me? Probably not, and I bet if they did a lot of the memories would not be pleasant ones. Perhaps if I stood up to the bullies, and I’d asked them to play, just once, they would remember me.
The reason I’m telling you this is to recommend a different path, a godly path. The people on the outskirts are not the ones to avoid, but the ones God wants you to embrace. I honestly think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year are some of God’s gifts to you.
So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Guy and gals!! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is a blessing. It means He chose you and wants you to be His instrument of love and to breathe Jesus into your peers’ lives.
Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away. Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.
Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’ team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell your mom and dad, and if they’re not around send me an email! I know a couple of you have email addresses- Ask your mom and/or your dad to give you my email. We will make a plan to help together.
When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about reaching out to my fellow outcasts, and instead followed the bullies’ advice. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. I could have had real friends, instead of the fake ones.
Nieces and Nephew: Remember that the walk of faith does not end at the end of church on Sunday. We are called by God to walk as Jesus walked everyday. You go to school to receive an education, and God places you in school to be his slat and light to those around you.
Always remember, kind people are brave people. Because brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.
Trust me, guys, it is. It is more important. Don’t try to be the best, nor the cool kids, this year honey. Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.
Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are blessed young women and young men . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.
I love you so much that my heart might explode.
Enjoy and cherish your gifts.
And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.
P.S. I shamelessy got this letter form this blog, and re-wrote it to better fit your context :).