To my children,
I love watching the excitement build as you get ready to go back to school. You’ve labeled your supplies and placed your colored pencils in rainbow order in your pencil box. For the moment your clothes fit perfectly, and your newish school shoes are still relatively shiny. Your lunch boxes don’t have that end-of-the-year grime, and your backpacks no longer have duck tape covering the holes where you dragged them to the car.
We ‘meet the teacher’ next week with anticipation of a new year and reconnecting with our friends. We will clip flowers and make the teacher a card. We will give hugs… a lot of hugs to all of our friends.
It is an exciting day, but I want to remind you of something.
There might be a new student in your class who doesn’t know what to expect. Remember how you felt when you were the new kid at church and didn’t know anybody? I want you to look for them and learn their name. Did you know a big smile can make a huge difference in their day?
Make a difference in somebody’s day.
When you look around, you might see a friend from last year with a broken smile. At some point that has been each of you. Maybe their smile is broken because they are nervous and uncomfortable. Maybe there’s a lot of yelling at home or their dog is sick.
I challenge you to notice them because everybody needs a friend.
That broken smile is sign they need one right now.
Be that friend.
To my middle schooler, you have a locker. You change classes. You are at an age where your friends care about hair and shoes and who is in class together. It is perfectly normal to want to be accepted and blend, but I want more for you.
My challenge to you whether you are feeling insecure, or confident, is to look beyond those immediately around you. Understand I DO want you connect with your friends, but I want your gaze to extend beyond that.
Amidst all the excited energy in the hallways, I challenge you to see the girl timidly standing by her locker not talking with anybody. Ask her about HER schedule. Invite her to walk with you (and your friends) to class.
Have room for more.
When lunchtime rolls around, intentionally notice if somebody is sitting alone or wandering awkwardly with their food. A simple invitation to eat together can make a potentially ‘horrible day’, one filled with hope.
Like I told your brothers, look for the girl with a broken smile.
Use yours to make hers whole, and in the process, yours will get a whole lot bigger too.
Have a great day!
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