When you were younger and I was still at home, I used to help you with your homework and you would always tell me I should be a teacher one day. Well here goes an attempt at teaching.
Five years ago, my footsteps foreshadowed your own. I walked across the same stage, shook a hand and embraced my own high school diploma with thoughts of college and the life the world was telling us all to lead. I’m proud of you Littleman, but not for your steps across that stage or the paper you’ll find tucked away one day. You see I knew you could do it. I knew the day would come where I would watch you from the audience while you were preparing for tomorrow. What I’m proud of you for is the young man you’re becoming. You’re still the same kid who hugs each of us on the bad days, hangs out with those sitting alone and can make a room laugh with a joke about cheese.
So to my younger brother with the bright blue eyes and contagious smile, here are some things I want you to know as you walk away from grade school into a new chapter.
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or
Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:31
Flashback to 5 years ago, my thoughts were concentrated on getting in to college, getting a degree that would make me enough money to live on, graduating in 4 years, getting a good job after graduation, meeting a good guy who would make a great dad and I figured everything would be great. I wasn’t the only person with those thoughts. If you had asked our entire graduating class or any graduating class since, the world teaches us to find purpose in those things.
Find purpose in:
- Being the best at and winning in everything you try: sports, instruments, singing, academics, work, etc.
- Earning a high school diploma
- Graduating college in 4 years
- Picking one major out of an endless amount of choices
- Picking someone to spend your life with
- Starting a family
- Making a lot of money
and the list goes on…
According to that checklist I’m, well…failing at life to put it quite frankly. 5 years after college and the only one of those things I’ve accomplished is the high school diploma. According to the world, I have nothing to show for the last 5 years of my life. Yet the world is wrong. It took me far too long to realize this but the truth is, we’ve had access to our true purpose here since the day we were born. You and I have had endless conversations in the last few months about not knowing what’s next and not knowing what to decide for college and you’ve felt overwhelmed by the lack of knowledge. In a world where tomorrow can’t possibly be known, there are a few things that you can know and one of those things is that you’re purpose here lies in Christ. Your purpose here is to bring Him glory in all you do. OUR purpose here is to bring Him glory in all WE do.
So that’s just it. You can sit there and choose a major or switch it a million times, graduate in 4 years or 40 years, get married or stay single, win or lose, make a lot of money or a lot less, have kids or decide not to, work at Wal-Mart pushing carts or work as a shark biologist, smile at those you meet or just pass them by, live in Texas or live in Alaska, eat spaghetti for dinner or order chicken at Raising Cane’s, but no matter what you choose, no matter what you do, if you’re bringing glory to Christ while doing it, you’re fulfilling your purpose.
I hope that brings you comfort. Christ is like a constant big comfy bed at the end of a long day but better. He is there to give us strength when we feel like we have none, bring us comfort when we feel lost and alone and bring joy in the midst of so much pain. There is no greater comfort and I pray you turn to Him in every decision, relationship, question, next step, struggle, victory and blessing, first and foremost.
“Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.”
– Proverbs 27:1
There is no way for us to know what tomorrow holds. As much as we try to plan every detail out for ourselves, tomorrow is unknown to us. My life is once again proof of that fact. I didn’t know that in the last 5 years I was going to move 10 times, switch my major a couple of times, go through the things I did, make the good and bad choices I did, or still not be done with school. The thing is, Christ knows. So as scary as it is to not be able to control tomorrow, trust that His plan is so much greater than what you could have for yourself. I spent last year feeling sorry for myself because things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to. Now I have a fantastic job working with people I love, I’m figuring out what Christ wants to use me for and even better than that, I’m letting Him use me and not just at work or church, but when I go shop at Kroger, grab food from a sushi restaurant or talk to the customer service guy on the phone I don’t actually want to be talking to.
I feel like I’ve told this story a million times but I’m going to keep telling it. At the Passion Conference this year, Christine Caine spoke about the surgery she had on her thyroid the previous year and instead of thinking about all the things she could miss out on if something wrong or asking God for more time, she asked, “Am I bringing everyone home with me I was supposed to bring?” That hit me so hard because I had spent my life living so selfishly. Every decision I made was for me and I had spent so much time worrying about tomorrow and what I thought I was missing out on that I really was missing out on so much more. There isn’t a season of my life I wish I could take back more than last year but I’m also incredibly grateful for everything I learned in that time. I was missing out, but it wasn’t because things hadn’t worked out the way I wanted them to, it was because I had turned from God and was missing out on the great things He had planned for me.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;
The old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:17
Learn from our mistakes but don’t be afraid when you make your own. You’ve watched every single one of us make good decisions alongside a plethora of bad ones. I hope you’re able to take those and learn from them but I also don’t want you to feel scared if and when you make your own bad choices. If you do, I want you to look back at the lives of your older brother and sisters and pay attention to what finally made us turn things around for the better or rather, who. Our attitudes, decisions and lives switched course when we turned to Christ instead of running from Him. If you go to Him first in your decisions in life, small or large, He will lead you in those decisions.
With that said, you’re human just like the rest of us and full of sin, just like the rest of us. You will do things you’ll wish you hadn’t, say things you wish you could take back and sometimes you’ll try and rationalize the things you’ve done when really, there is no rationalizing sin. I spent a lot of time scared of the choices I had made and I ran further from Christ like I could hide from Him and those around me who wanted better for me. Don’t run unless you are running back to the arms of God. He will forgive the things you feel aren’t worthy of forgiveness and He will always have His arms wide open ready to embrace you just as you are. So will I.
Those three things are only a piece of the things I could sit here and talk to you about but I’ll end with this for now, I love you. Don’t ever forget that I’m here to listen when you need to talk, give advice when you want or don’t want to hear it, pray for you in the good and the bad, hug you when you have a hard day, help you when that’s what you need and always lead you back to Him.
I hope you find comfort in the clouds on a rainy day, find joy in life’s trials, remain grateful for the blessings, stay humble each and every day, work toward eternal treasures, and always hold the hands of those who love you.
Hugs and kisses Littleman. I love you so very much.