I had a hard time figuring out what to say in this letter. I didn’t want it to be the typical “I love you and am very proud of you” letter most parents may write to their high school graduate. Of course, I love you and I’m proud of you. These are things that I tell you on a regular basis. I imagine many parents in my shoes would tell their child it seems like just yesterday they were little babies. I assume many might say they want to turn back the clocks to relive all those lost years. I’m sure most parents are able to list off numerous memories from their graduate’s childhood. But this isn’t the case for us.
Divorce changed many things in our life. Nothing from our past seems like just yesterday. It feels like centuries have passed since I was able to hold you or sit to watch a movie with you. It feels like a lifetime has passed since we were able to truly enjoy each other’s company. I’d prefer to look toward the future rather than turn back clocks, as our past contains some pretty painful moments, lost hopes and vanished dreams. We’ve sustained emotional scars, some of which we are still trying to heal. Frequently being away from each other has certainly changed many aspects of our relationship. Over the years, many of your needs went unmet and you lost sense of security. Your stability, at times, was replaced with the feeling of being abandoned by both of your parents. It’s been a long, hard road for you.
Obviously, being a child of divorce hasn’t been easy. However, because of your life experiences, you have character, you’re strong, and you’ve learned valuable lessons. You’ve proven yourself to be a person of integrity and have always been ready to accept the challenge of responsibility. You haven't allowed our family history to define you. You haven't allowed divorce to define our relationship.
By simply graduating high school with honorable grades, you’ve defeated many odds. You’ve made it to a place where you have earned your freedom. But, with freedom comes more responsibility…..a lot more responsibility. The most important part of your life is yet to come. This is a confusing time of old doors closing and new doors opening. You’ve gotten it all right so far. Since you’ve handled responsibility so gracefully, here are eight more things to be responsible for.
Success isn’t measured in cars or money. It’s most certainly not measured by what I, your father or your future spouse think of you. Success is measured by the type of person you are and how you choose to live your life. So be an honest person, live your life honestly and save your money.
2.Your Work Ethic
Take responsibility by ensuring that you have a good work ethic. Always put your heart into what you set out to do. Hold your morals high. Spend time building trusting relationships. Take personal responsibility for your mistakes. Finally, always arrive to your job and meetings 5 minutes early.
3.How You Treat Yourself
Treat yourself with respect. Others will follow your example. The world isn’t going to respect you unless you show them that you deserve it.
4.How You Treat Others
Ephesians 4:32 says be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as you have been forgiven. Be a good listener. Hear what others are trying to tell you. In conversation, hesitate to respond unless your response is kind and helpful. Treat others with respect.
5.Never take the easy way out
Know that you will have a difficult time amounting to anything and have an even harder time making yourself proud if you look for the easy way out. Instead take responsibility for yourself, your actions, and the energy you put out to the world. Be committed to doing your best work. Push yourself to your limits and outside your comfort zone. You’ll feel accomplished and be happy that you didn’t settle.
Eat good food. Drink lots of water and take your vitamins. Commit to a daily exercise regimen for stress management. Read books; a lot of them. Consider them healthy food for your brain. Sleep when you are tired. Take time to connect with people. Make a schedule so you don’t find yourself cramming for test or rushing to working.
Be giving of yourself as God has given himself to you. Relationships are not 50/50. I consider this bad math. Good, solid relationships are not built on give and take. Relationships are about giving 100% of you (yourself) and expecting nothing in return.
8.Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
It’s your responsibility to lighten up. Allow yourself to laugh. Life isn’t about totally surrendering, nor is it about retaining complete control. It’s about being in between, having a healthy balance. Remember, especially during the tough times, that everything is temporary. Realize that emotions will come and go, acknowledge them and allow them to pass. Allow yourself and others to just be human. Remember YOU choose your attitude to the circumstances YOU create in your life.
Be proud of yourself, not because I’m proud of you, but because you did this all on your own. You chose to be your best. I love you so much.