The title for this post was born from my crazy thought process. The following is a letter to my kids on things I want them to know as they go to public school in Rochester, NY. Some of my all time favorite books of the Bible are the letters that the apostle Paul writes to churches in different cities throughout Asia Minor, Greece and Italy. These letters are called by the name of the people in the city to which he is writing. And so, it seems appropriate that a letter to my Rochester kids would be called “Rochesterians”. To be clear, this is NOT scripture. These are simply the musings of a fallible mama who desires for her children to love Jesus and to live out the gospel in their lives.
Dear Children of Mine,
You have been back at school for 2 1/2 weeks now and I am finding that I can breathe again. We have settled into a bit of a rhythm, one that I am thoroughly enjoying. Lindsay~ I love that Daddy walks with you to school every day and that Ainsley and I get to come and get you a full hour before the boys get off the bus. This has been a wonderful schedule and I want you to know that I am grateful for the maturity you are showing- getting up early to shower, making your lunch when you have suspected that I need a few more moments of rest, being proactive about organizing your locker and seeking help from teachers when you don’t understand something. And boys~ the way you express your excitement about school thrills my heart. I love the way your teachers are motivating you, but more importantly, I love the way you are thriving as a result of these motivations. Gibson~ you are one smart cookie! My prayer has always been that you would enjoy learning and to see that prayer being answered is a blessing. Ethan~ your passion for music and for playing the string bass is truly remarkable to me. It is great to see you exploring passions and then pursuing them. Keep doing that!
For 7 hours or so every weekday, you are away from our little nest and while this used to terrify me, I have come to not only accept this reality, but to actually embrace it. Our time together as a family is sweeter, more intentional and more enjoyable as a result of this time apart. But you should know that while you are gone, I pray for you. I pray that you would focus and listen to your teachers. I pray that you would learn the lessons you need to learn. I pray for wisdom and for a discerning heart. And I pray that your attitude and your love for others would demonstrate Christ’s love.
I do not forget for even a moment the importance of giving you a solid foundation for all of the education that takes place outside of our home. These past 2 1/2 weeks have been a reminder to me to be intentional about teaching you here at home. As I have been contemplating these things, a few things have come to the surface. Here they are in no particular order:
1. There is a huge difference between opinions and truth. It is imperative that you learn this difference. You will be taught things that are absolute truth. Things like 1 + 1 = 2 and the importance of reading and the fact that your locker will not open if you try your friend’s combination. But you will also hear a lot of opinions. Things like painting is more fun than crayons or sports are better than orchestra or if you want to be cool, you have to go to these parties and wear those clothes. Sometimes opinions and truth will be obvious. Other times, those things will appear hazy. The only way to know the difference is to know truth and to hold tightly to it and to know that opinions should be held loosely (and if anyone is pressuring you to accept their opinion, you should always question it- this doesn’t mean that they are necessarily wrong, but opinions need to be shared with humility).
In our family, the standard for truth is the Bible, the Word of God. We believe that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and so we will seek to know Christ and to know truth, so that we will have the wisdom to test the lessons we are taught.
2. Truth must be told in love. The Bible is very clear that if we do not have love, then we are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1). You will be tempted at times to argue truths with teachers or fellow students. Please always remember to only share truth out of love. This verse is very clear- without love, no one will be able to hear the words that you speak. If you want to be a voice of truth, seek a heart of love.
3. Accept criticism and correction graciously, but don’t allow it to define you. There will be times when a teacher will correct you or criticize you for a behavior or attitude. Learn to accept this criticism and learn the lesson that you are meant to learn, but don’t let those things crush you. Criticism can be a healthy part of our growth, but it does not determine who we are.
4. Get rid of jealousy. There will always be people who have more than you, who are more likable, who are better than you at various things. Don’t be jealous of them, because I guarantee that there are people who look at YOU and have the same thoughts. If we can learn to celebrate others, we will learn that others are free to celebrate us. And when we have people who celebrate us, we will also have people who genuinely care about us when we struggle. Jealousy is lousy (seriously- it’s even part of the word!), so get rid of it.
Sweet ones~ these are lessons that I want you to learn now, but truthfully, these are lessons that you will be relearning for the rest of your life. A secret adults might not want you to know- no one has this all figured out perfectly. But it’s the ones that understand that this side of heaven we will never have it all figured out who are humble and loving, gracious and merciful. I pray that you will be a part of this group. And I pray that you won’t have to go through great difficulty in order to learn it.
With an ever increasing love,