There’s Space for All of Us
Dear children of mine,
There are certain lessons in life that I wish I could teach you without you having to go through the heartache of learning them. But there are not any shortcuts in life. And truth be told, one of the greatest joys in parenting is seeing you grow in wisdom and strength and maturity. Hard knocks and all.
It has taken me a long time to learn the lesson I want to share with you today. I hope and pray that you will learn it much sooner so that your life choices will not be swayed or affected in negative ways for not having learned it. The lesson is this…
No one else gets to determine what you are capable of doing.
It seems pretty simple and obvious, but my experience is that the opinions of others can creep in and affect your heart in painful and sometimes debilitating ways. And everyone has an opinion.
For too long, I believed that I was just mediocre, decent at what I did, but not exceptional. I believed this in part because I felt no compelling drive to pursue any traditional career path. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and the result was that I felt “less than” like somehow I was not as good as others, because I had no purpose.
Guys, I was so wrong. I am finally learning that my own story, written lovingly by our Heavenly Father, is just as important and meaningful as any other story. And so is yours!
This way of thinking was self imposed, influenced by what I perceived others thought of me. But there have also been overt critiques of me that have kept me from pursuing opportunities or following through on a dream or desire. I see this starting to happen in your lives, because half of you are entering the crazy, roller coaster, emotionally charged, “mean” years and my heart breaks with every story you tell.
I pray daily for a different outcome for you.
And so, I want to tell you this- if you have a dream of something you want to do with your life, please pursue it. Invite trusted, true, good intentioned, loving friends to share opinions. But disregard the opinions of those who are overly critical, competitive or mean in the way they share opinions. You will always have a ton of voices telling you what you can and cannot do. Choose to listen to the right ones.
But there is a flip side to this lesson that is equally important. If we truly believe that no one else gets to determine what we are capable of doing, guess what? YOU don’t get to do that to others, to impose your own opinions of what they can or can’t do on them. Now I know the temptation, sweet ones! I know how hard it is to not lash out when someone else has been mean to you. It is hard not to act on the desire to put someone else in their place. But here is the second part of this lesson that I want you to learn…
There is space for all of us.
You must never crush someone else’s dreams in order to pursue your own. You should never make someone else feel inferior in order for you to feel like you are successful. There is room for everyone to succeed in life and if we would ALL have this perspective, championing one another instead of crushing others, I believe this world would be a much better place.
Did you know that the four of you are teaching me this valuable lesson? I look at each one of you and I see very different characters with unique abilities. You are all so different, not just in physical appearance, but in personality, in talents and in abilities. You are teaching me that no one should try to fit into a box that society builds for them. I am so thankful that you are not cookie cutter versions of your Mom and Dad! You are your own people. And every day, I get to celebrate this.
When you are able to celebrate the success of others without feeling like you have to compete OR to fade into the background so as not to diminish their success, you will discover that you are free to pursue your own passions. Sometimes your dreams will be realized and other times they will not, but please know that successes and failures are both part of your story. You do not have to be defined by them. Instead, you get to learn and grow, because I guarantee that these things will be the foundation for other pursuits God has for you.
The hard truth is that everyone learns this lesson at a different rate, which means that you will continue to have negative, competitive voices in your life. I wish I could tell you that this ends in high school, but the truth is it only gets worse and is in some ways heightened when you have kids of your own. I have found that your hurts bring out a fierceness in me that I didn’t know was there prior to motherhood. When other kids are mean to you, I want to yell and scream. Which is why Exodus 14:14 is becoming more and more important in my life- “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” I am slowly learning that the trust I have in God to carry out His purpose in my life also applies to your lives. I can trust Him to fight for you and I must depend on Him to write your stories in the way He intends. I pray that you would trust Him as well and to seek His will in your life.
And I pray that you would pursue your own dreams, that you would reach for the stars and that you would bravely try new things, despite the naysayers and critics who will always be there.
Because there is space for all of us to pursue our own dreams. So, go for it! And know that I will have my pom-poms ready always.
Your biggest fan,