dear You: a handful of brave things to keep in your pocket for hard days in a hard world

So this is what it comes to, huh, Kid?

You pack your bags.

Pack up your bags, and you’re outta here, flying out on a plane headed east. Straight out over the ocean, straight to the red dirt of Africa.

That place where the heart of God bleeds up through the earth.

And you’ll be gone for a whole lot longer than one week of happy summer camp.

You’re 16 and you’ll be gone a month on the other side of the world, 4 weeks of interning in Rwanda. And yeah, I know, I knowthis is the point. The whole point of welcoming kids into your life is to wave good-bye to adults embarking out on their own lives.

So — Braveheart, Beautiful Girl, quiet and lovely in a loud world —  this is the thing… maybe everything boils down to a handful of things? 

I can’t pack your bags anymore — you’re all too grown up for that…. but maybe in a deafening world, I can hand you handful of Brave and Beautiful Things for your every day?












Straight off the top, can I just quietly say — no one needs to go around with that parental policing voice in your head — you know?

The parent, superego voice that  lives in your head: You always get things wrong… You are always behind and I can’t believe you didn’t get this right and how did you blow it again?!

Parents aren’t supposed to be the loud police voice in your head — but the gentle pastor at your side.

It’s always there — if you always listen for that quiet, gentle voice of Grace on the inside:

You can do this thing — because you were made to do hard and holy things.
You are always enough — because You have Jesus and He is always enough.
You don’t have to get it perfect — you just have to get back up and keep going.

So maybe yeah, think of all this as a gentle note to tuck in your back pocket —  and that this getting up every day and listening for His Voice, that’s Number One of the handful of brave and beautiful things for your every day:

Number One: Fall in love with the One who is The Way — and the way you’re supposed to go will follow…. as you follow Him.

You’ve got to want to be one with Him — more than you want to be a Someone.

You’ve got to want to serve more than you want to be seen, you’ve got to care more than you want to be comfortable, you’ve got to want to give more than you want to get.

You’ve got to want His approval more than all the other things that will prove to be worthless.

Promise yourself you’ll remember this because you will need this most: You can always have as much as God as you want.

Number Two: Taste the grittiness of work — or you won’t ever taste success.

Every day you can get up and get scared — or you can get up and get yourself ready.

Nothing erases stress quite like preparation.

Bury all your nagging fears in your faithful work — or your fears will bury you in nagging doubts.

Promise yourself you’ll remember this because it will effect your joy: Be entirely engaged in the process of your work, and be entirely disengaged in outcome of your work. You can’t determine outcome — but you can determine to come and put in everything you have.

Let your joy always be in doing the work — not in the outcome of the work. The journey not only matters more than the destination — the journey actually becomes the destination.

Success is always showing up and bending down. Full stop.

Number Three: Don’t love your present self more than you love your future self.

Give your future self the present of being loved more than your present self.

That means: Make your present self a gift to your future self. Trust me — this is what really wantmore than what you think you want. Love your future self — more than your present self. This is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

That means: Do hard things in the short run — to give yourself holy and happy things in the long run.

Though everywhere tells you the point of living is to avoid suffering — please: Always embrace the struggle:

You know there’s no way around pain — there’s always either the pain of disappointment or the pain of discipline.

And don’t ever, ever, ever be concerned with failing — only be concerned about failing to keep on going.

Number 4: Be a Giver.

Get up every day and just do that: Volunteer to be a Giver. Never stop looking for a way to be the Giver. The world’s going around with a big sign: Wanted: GIVERS. (Sorry — The world already has enough takers.)

Be a Giver — and you will get the most.

People may forget what you did or didn’t do — but they won’t forget how you made them feel. Hearts have the longest memories. This is what makes you love people people and love life and never be intimidated in any setting: Lean in and make eye contact and simply listen to hearts. 

Listening is a revolutionary act of liberation — it will liberate you from the prison of your prejudices and free you to love large. 

And? Always speak through your heart — not through your expectations or your frustrations or your provocations or even your lips. Always let every word you speak come through your heart.

Because the bottom line is:

It doesn’t matter if you have some big title — what matters is that you have a big heart. A big heart will trump a big title every time.

Number 5: Watch your fingers so your heart can care.  

Maybe the most important part of your body to control is your index finger — because it’s most like the devil:  It most wants to point and prosecute.

At all costs — don’t be a finger pointer… and avoid joining packs of finger-pointers — who point and blame peers and parents and circumstances and society and somebody else.

The world doesn’t need any more finger-pointers.

It needs more people to honestly point out their own sins — and humbly point up to everyone’s Savior.

The world doesn’t need more loud people who think they have it all right — it needs more people compassionate people to sit down and listen long enough to quietly realize they had some of it wrong.

The world needs people whose sacrificial giving is loudest and largest thing about them.  People who quietly weep with the wounded and listen to the hurting and generously serve the Other — because that’s what it means to genuinely love one another: not to love people just like you, but to Love the Other. 

The Givers and the Listeners and the Lovers — we can be part of His beautiful healing of the world…. 

So when you get to the end of the day, when you get down far down that road your on, when you get to wondering what it’s all about that — I don’t know, maybe it’s just this handful of 5 Brave and Beautiful Things I wanted to tuck in your back pocket in a world that’s hurting everywhere?

And maybe I just wanted to look you long in the eyes and memorize this in the midst of everything: Trust that Grace will always meet you.

Believe that when God made the universe, that He breathed Grace as the air of the universe.

When you believe that the earth’s atmosphere is actually Grace:

You aren’t afraid of people or asking questions or risking big or laughing loud or believing the best or believing in beauty or loving across fences or walking up to people and taking off your mask and making every step you take into a leap of faith.

Please, always:  Believe that Grace will always, always, always meet you.

Because Grace has a name. And He always meets you. In everything, through everything, in spite of anything.

Grace has a name — and He always, always meets you.

So go on, keep going on, Braveheart — you are loved more than you know, liked more than you can imagine, and are stronger than you dreamed….  so: Give love. And live large — And love larger.

You can’t even begin to imagine how there’s always amazing grace up ahead. 



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