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Some Wisdom for a Seven Year Old

August 23, 2012

It’s that time of year.  For the last two years, when our oldest daughter, Emily, turned five and six years old, I sat down and wrote a few words of wisdom for her to enjoy when she got older. Well, believe it or not, another year has come and gone and it’s time to go back to the well.  Thus and without further ado, here is my wisdom for a seven year old.

Dear Emily,

On the occasion of your seventh birthday I can’t help but marvel at how much things have changed in the past year, not to mention the seven years since you began making your indelible mark on our lives.  Writing you this note a year ago, your mom and I had made the decision to add another child to our already unruly clan, unbeknownst to you, your brother, sister or anyone else for that matter.  Now, I can’t even remember what it was like to live life without your newest sibling.  That’s the thing about change, it has a way of coming on fast and wiping out the memory of what life looked like before everything became different.

I start this note with my musing on change because now, more than ever before, I see you standing on the doorstep of change, blossoming from a little child into a young lady.  Although you still possess a particular flair for the dramatic, I see your rational mind taking shape, puzzling through the world around you and searching for significance in new ways.  And, in the interest of full disclosure, I see your internal struggle to stop this evolution.  This is not the last time that you’ll find yourself in this position.

The only constants in life are change and transition.  There are few rest stops along the way and few places to simply “be” who you are.  To be perfectly honest, the idea of “being” is probably more of a fabrication and a myth than we’d like it admit.  It assumes that the infinite variables of time, space and (perhaps most perplexing of all) human relationships don’t exist.  The truth is that time moving forward means change, growth, destruction and, hopefully, wisdom.  There simply isn’t time to “be” anything.

As life goes on, you’ll find yourself constantly between two states, of what/where/who you are and what/where/who you’d like to be.  You’ll find yourself torn and, often, frustrated cursing the circumstances that put you between these two realities and longing for the day when things just simply “are.”

If you’re lucky (or blessed), you’ll realize that your frustration isn’t actually related to the circumstances of your life, but the reality of your existence.  You’ll see that, in stumbling over the rocks of life, you’ve uncovered the treasure buried beneath – that all of this points back to your eternal nature, caught between heaven and earth, holiness and humanity.

But, that’s enough philosophizing.  Now on to the real “wisdom.”

Lying – Don’t ever lie.  Seriously, don’t do it.  First, because it’s not nice, it’s not right and it only gets you in more trouble.  Second, because you have the most obvious “tell” I’ve ever seen.  And, no, I will never tell you what your “tell” is.

Boys – I am going to tell you this with absolute confidence that my wisdom will fall on deaf ears: boys are, in every estimable capacity, the most useless creatures on earth… until they make up their minds to be otherwise.  If there was any way to get you to avoid inexhaustible abyss of stupid that is boys, I’d sign you up.  I’m afraid, however, that they’re one of the unfortunate realities of life.

The good news: there will come a time when you are emotionally prepared to make a choice between expending your energy on boys – who are solely focused on themselves, the temporary, the flashy and nothing that matters – and a boy-turned-man who has accepted the greatest purpose in life, to lay himself down for another and, only in so doing, is capable of love.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride between now and then.  Just know that mom and I are on the journey with you, and praying for you every step of the way.

Priorities- I shared this with you the other day and I’m sure you’ll hear me say it about a million more times in your lifetime: “we all have to do things we don’t want to do, we just have to try and be happy while doing them.”  As this annoying piece of wisdom was handed down to me, it is your birthright to receive as well.

It seems like now, more than ever before, people seem to think that, if they don’t want to do something, they shouldn’t have to do something.  I’m here to tell you that most of life is filled with things you’d never choose to do if the choice was yours. Banish the thought that undesirable activities are not worth your time and that, somehow, you’re special enough to be exempt from them.  You’re not because no one is.

There are two questions we all have to ask ourselves:

1) Can I find happiness, even joy, in the midst of the things I’m required to do or will I make these tasks miserable for myself and everyone around me?; and

2) Am I willing to make sacrifices to pursue the things I want to do in the midst of all the things I have to do?

The world is full of people who regret all the things they didn’t do because they were so busy doing the things they had to do.   Don’t be one of those people.  No matter how “hard” it is to make time for the things that make your soul come alive, make the sacrifice.  Trust me on this.

Until next year my dear.




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