Dear Children, Do Not Be Afraid to Pursue a Simple Life

My Dear Children,

I hope you have the courage to pursue a simple life. If you feel it is calling you, take heart and do not shrink from a seemingly ordinary way.

I know, I know, as your mother, aren’t I supposed to instill in you a sense of greatness? Aren’t I supposed to remind you on a daily basis that you can pursue whatever impressive and grand dream you have in your heart, no matter how great the obstacle?

I am doing that in my own way.

But as I look around at the histories you are learning, the tales you are reading and the contemporary rhetoric you are hearing from every corner of our culture, it seems you are being bombarded with calls toward the one narrow path of greatness. To be influencers, great leaders, money makers, jet setters, never-stop-no-matter-the-cost kind of people – that is what the world tells you that you must be in order to matter. In order to live a true life.

That kind of life is not the only true existence. If you are called toward greatness in the eyes of the world, I will love and encourage you. I will be proud of you and hope you will do it with all the integrity you possess.

If, however, you find yourself pausing and feeling uncertain that doing something impressive on paper and acclaimed by others is your calling, then I hope you will realize that you must take courage and overcome another kind of obstacle. It is a great obstacle, and one that has conquered many a soul: that of needing to please others rather than truly fulfilling one’s own true purpose.

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Now, it is true that if you do not make obvious waves in this world, or have a string of achievements and accomplishments to list when people inquire about your life, you might be tempted to feel a bit smaller than others in the room. I have no idea what kind of social media connection will exist when you are of age, but you may feel like something is wrong if you are not “sharing” the kind of activities that garner widespread reactions from others. You may see so little representation in movies and novels of people who are satisfied with simple lives, that you may wonder why you are NOT unsatisfied with your life. When every fictional protagonist is seemingly miserable before pursing something great, is there something lacking in you for finding purpose and meaning in a humbler way? Are you boring or less important a person?

You’ll have those doubts and worries. You’ll question. But if your heart continues to come back to a quieter place, you must have courage. You must value your own inner voice and calling from God to live your simple life as you feel is right, even if others may at times make you feel little.

Do you want to know something amazing?

The more intentionally you live a simple life, the more you will find how extraordinary it truly is.

You will be moved by the sheer number of people in this world who seek authentic connection over superficial assembling.

You will be awed with the intimacy of being with those you love in the most natural and unassuming circumstances.

You will be surprised at your own strength in not needing to be the most impressive human in the room.

You will savor joy in pouring encouragement and affirmation into others, even while not expecting praise in return.

You will find true purpose in a humble kind of service that is not necessarily lauded, but that you know in your heart still makes a lasting difference.

You will be grateful for having the time to listen instead of always being the one to talk.

You will find liberation in not needing to constantly busy yourself in order to be worthy.

You will hear God’s voice in the seemingly ordinary. You will feel the presence of your Lord in your simple life and realize that if the Creator of the Universe loves to be with you in your ordinary kind of life, than your life is inherently infused with divinity.

If you take the humbler path, you must know that it will take grit, determination, intentionality, sacrifice and hard work. It is no less difficult and requires no less effort than the movers and shakers of this world. But do not be fooled: there are many rewards to this kind of living.

I promise that when all is said and done, if your epitaph merely reads: “here lies a good and humble person”, you will have pursued a lasting kind of greatness. 

Conversations with My Adult Children

My three children are young. Quite young. Too young in fact to be aware of so much of what I will be discussing on this blog.

And yet, I often find in the thoughts which compel my actions and choices, an ongoing conversation with my adult children. In my mind their images are hazy, rough sketches of what nature has revealed thus far about their fledgling qualities and traits. But their voices are clear and deliberate, and often they ask a loaded question –

“What have you taught me?”

Parenthood is a daily exercise in staying in the present. It’s a discipline in appreciating the unique and incredible formation of young humans, whose destinies will be molded, but in no way determined, by the adults who surround them.

But one day in the future, my children will ask me to give account of what I have taught them. In order for me to do this to the best of my ability, my thoughts which fill their minds presently must come from a place of great intentionality and perhaps most important of all, humility.

That we are carving out our own destinies with uncertainty while raising the next generation seems a rather precarious reality for the species. But this awareness has the power to create a wellspring of empathy, patience and companionship as well.

In all the ordinary moments of being a family, in the seemingly inconsequential activities of daily living, lies a deep and meaningful story between parent and child. Amidst the nursery rhymes, water colors and introductory lessons is the set-up for an incredible drama that has been and will continue to be the story of our people.

We are our children’s teachers, and yet without placing ourselves into the context of our time, and place, it seems the marrow of this incredible dynamic can be diminished. To be deliberate in what we teach to our children and why we teach our children these things seems essential to raising courageous and thoughtful adults.

I’m rather intimated to blog. But I hope it will compel me to continue to flesh out those thoughts and values which I hope my children carry with them into the future. That this may also lead to meaningful conversation with friends who share in our human story would be an incredible gift.

Nothing here will be overly personal. I am not planning on sharing specific stories about my family. But from a different perspective, this blog will be incredibly personal in the sense that the things I teach my children are a reflection of the truth and love which I feel for them and the world around.

So here we are. Things I teach my Children, while still learning myself.

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