Saturday, May 14, 2016

a letter to the seniors of 2016...

Dear Senior of 2016,

Well, you've made it--"finally" is usually the word that follows that statement, breathed out in a sigh. And now, you face the question that everybody and their brother seems to be asking:

What are you going to do with your life?

You may have something planned. You might be like me, and have a plan all laid out for the next 5 or 10 years.
Or maybe not.

You might not know what you're doing this summer, let alone next fall or 5 years from now.
Either way, I would like to share a few things with you that I wish I had realized 14 years ago when I graduated (wow--that sure seems a lot longer when I see it written down). People may have told me all of the stuff I'm going to tell you, but if they did I was too busy being sure that I was a grown up and knew what I was doing to truly listen to them. Be smarter than I was.

So, here are a few things I would tell you if we were sitting across from each other having a cup of coffee (because that's what grown ups do, right?):

Dream big, but don't get hung up on your dreams.
You should dream, and you should make those dreams big, spectacular things. Dreams are what push us to be more than we think we can be, to do things to change the world. The thing is, though--dreams don't always come true. I know that's something you don't want to hear. You want people to tell you "If you can dream it, you can achieve it" but that's just not true. Not all your dreams will come true, because that's just the truth of life. That doesn't mean you should stop dreaming, though. It just means that your dreams shouldn't begin to define you.
Life doesn't go according to your plan.
I'm a planner, and if you're anything like me this is a hard one to swallow. I've always had my plans, and I would very much prefer things to just fall into line and go the way I have planned. But they don't. And you know what? Sometimes, that's for the best. If my life had gone the way I had planned since I graduated high school, I wouldn't be where I am today.
Invest in people.
So many things are vying for your attention--school, jobs, careers, financial decisions (start paying attention to those now, by the way), and everything else this world shoves at you. Despite what the world tells you, though, those things aren't what's important. What matters are the people around you, the people you are journeying through this life with, the people who will be there for you when everything else falls apart. If you spend all your time and energy on things instead of people, you find one day that you've lost everything that matters--no matter how much stuff you have. Pour yourself into people.
Choose the good.
Bad things are going to happen in life. That's a given, no matter how much you try to protect yourself from anything bad that could happen. You're going to get hurt. Your heart is going to break. Your world is going to seem like it's crashing down around you. In those moments, you're going to have a choice to make. You can choose to focus on everything that's going wrong, to let yourself get pulled down into a spiral of despair--or you can choose to look for the good. You can focus on the people who are there for you in the bad times, on the lessons that you learn (because yes, there are lessons to learn in the hard times), and the God who gives you His strength to face everything that happens.
Take a risk.
Sometimes, the easy choice isn't the best choice. It's hard to choose the hard thing, though. It means being brave, being willing to risk the good to get something better. Don't always play it safe just so that you don't have to face failure. Because you see, sometimes the things you see as your biggest failures set the foundation upon which you will build your greatest masterpiece.
Be strong and courageous.
Joshua 1:9 says, "This is My command: be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go." I'll say it again--you're going to face some hard times in life. You're going to want to quit. You're going to think you've been abandoned. You're going to be scared out of your mind. But God--He has told you to have courage. Courage isn't a lack of fear; courage is simply being scared and doing what has to be done despite your fears. And no matter what happens, you have God's promise to stay with you.
Don't let others determine your worth.
God has created you as His masterpiece, and He has plans for your life. They may look drastically different than the plans you have for yourself, but you can rest assured that His plans for you are a perfect fit. God created you with a purpose. He thinks you are worth so much that He gave His own Son in your place. Your worth is not determined by the school you go to, the career you choose, the car you drive, or the house you buy. Your worth has already been determined, and the price has already been paid. You are worth so much more than anything on this earth. Don't let anyone tell you anything else.
You have the entire future ahead of you. Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. Work hard, but love more.

1 comment:

  1. Mandy, that was beautiful and great advice! I wish I would have known then (22 yrs ago!) what I knew now, but some of the surprises along the way were definitely worth not knowing! Thank you for sharing-- Stacey


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