Dear Angry Child,
I want you to know that you are absolutely entitled to all of your feelings. You may tell anyone how angry you are and even explain why. That ability to articulate what you feel is a superpower that not everyone will possess. I have heard before that a resentment is an inability to tell someone how you really feel and my heart rejoices knowing that you will bypass a lot of unnecessary resentment with your new superpower.
I could astound you with the mountains of resentment I grew up with. While I applaud your ability to express your every emotion and fill the air with your every thought, I am less than pleased with your choice of words. I can tell you from my own life experience that being unkind has gotten me nowhere. And fast!
2 Peter 1:5-8
Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You see, sometimes we can forfeit our rightness or even diminish the validity of our own feelings by being hurtful. I wish that I could tell you that once words are said, they disintegrate and are never seen again. The truth is sometimes our words hold so much power that another human being may never really take them off. Sometimes words damage so much that we cannot repair their demolition.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
If you ball up a piece of paper and then try to flatten back out, it is never fully uncrinkled. There are still signs of the trauma. That is how words work. We cannot always take them back.
I realize that you are being raised in a world that values the harshest comeback or the most sarcastic response and I cannot imagine the pressure that must fall on otherwise kind, young people. You couple that environment with raging hormones and you’re working with something nuclear.
The greatest gift I can ever give to you is this: my boundary. I’m chill and I’m fun, but I am also your elder and a parent and you have lost your ever-loving mind if you thought that being nasty or disrespectful was ever ok with me. There are things that you have been led to believe are acceptable or applause-worthy.
Those beliefs have done you a great disservice and it saddens me to think that you may struggle in both professional and personal relationships because no one ever thought to tell you that being a meanie will get you nowhere. If I have ever made you feel that disrespect and blind entitlement were not only desirable, but praiseworthy, I owe you a huge amends.
There are adults that have never learned this lesson who are lightyears behind other people their age. I never, ever want that to be you. I have even been one of those adults! I was a late bloomer. You are far too talented and good-hearted and wonderful to end up living in blatant mediocrity. The thought of that breaks my heart.
Here is the real deal and, honey, I have done a lot of living for 33 years old. You can take this to the bank: Manners are timeless and being polite will have people jumping hurdles to help you out. Trust me!
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
I am still learning to have a constant filter and it is a skill I wish I had started learning when I was your age. Believe it or not, I have gotten worlds better at this! Being a mean girl got me suspended and expelled. It even got me arrested! God blessed me with another chapter, but please do not take that path. What a waste! I think of how great it felt to tell someone off or to call people names and then I remember how quickly that great feeling left me. It didn’t fix anything. It didn’t make me feel like I had accomplished anything and usually it landed me in trouble or alone.
Be assertive and empowered and strong, but, please do yourself a favor and learn to do it the kind, productive way. I love you more than you can even possibly fathom. I want you to be expressive and authentic and honest. I also want you to be successful and inspiring and a leader. I don’t want you to leave this world with even a drop of potential left in you. Use it up, kid.
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Know that some things come with a price and some things cannot be taken back. It is never too late or too lame to apologize or to change. You are never too far that you can’t turn back. Being kind is never uncool. True story.
So, be mad. Be really, really outraged, but don’t cheapen who you really are with an explosion that changes nothing. Don’t sacrifice your heart, so that your anger or pride can win. None of the cool kids are doing it. I promise.
I love you.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.