This may sound crazy, but I’m already praying diligently for all of my kids to have godly grown-ups in their lives as teenagers. I desperately want them surrounded by other adults who love them, love Jesus and are willing to be invested in their lives. Essentially, I’m looking for mentors.
To me, this is absolutely critical.
Critical to their spiritual growth.
Critical to their mental and emotional health.
Critical to their character development.
Critical even to their physical safety and wellbeing.
Having other trusted grown-ups in tune with my children is such a gift. There are so many times when we might miss it as parents. We’re not always able to see our own kids clearly. Maybe because we’re busy and distracted. Perhaps because we just don’t want to see their faults. Or maybe because they can be really adept at hiding certain things.
There are also times when we see our kids with crystal clarity, but as we try to speak truth into their lives and circumstances, our advice and guidance falls on deaf ears. At times, our voice becomes white noise to our own children.
I want to be sure that in those times, I have the gaps ﬁlled.
I want my kids to be surrounded by Christ-following adults who can and will speak truth into their lives when I can’t.
I’ve played this role of “the gap-ﬁlling grown-up” as a small group leader for many girls as they came through our church youth group. My girls would seek my counsel on both the big things and the small things. The light and the heavy. Sometimes even just for a laugh or an “I see you.” And as a parent myself, I was SO happy to get to play that support role to all of their families.
Being a mom has indeed proven to be the most rewarding task in my entire life. However, it is also hands down the most difﬁcult. So basically, at any moment, on any day, I will literally JUMP at the offer for help in doing it well. The role these “gap-ﬁllers” play is the exact kind of help I desperately need and want.
I’m seriously already on my knees for them…
It seemed timely to include a copy of an “Open When…” letter I wrote to my graduating senior girls…
(The theme was “Open when you have trouble getting plugged in” in college)
Dear High School Graduate,
If you actually followed the rules and didn’t open this right when you got it, then I’m sure we’re all missing you like crazy by now!!! I wish I could give you a hug and have this conversation face to face. I hope you’ll call me after you’ve read this letter so I can tell you how much I miss you and how proud I am of you. I hope you’ve had tons of wonderful days in college so far, but if you’re reading this, then that probably means you’ve had a not-so-good one today.
Let me offer you some grace right where you are… hard days, even the worst of days, don’t mean that you’re failing at what you’re doing. Sometimes we just have tough days (or seasons) and we have to walk through those just like we walk through the good ones. I often hear people (old people like me) say to college students, “Man, those were the best days of my life! I wish I could go back!” and it makes me cringe. I could easily be one of those people who makes that comment when I think back on college. I honestly remember college very fondly as I step back and look at the big picture. It was so much fun, I made tons of wonderful friends, earned a degree, had some crazy fun adventures that make for great stories now, and learned a lot (or maybe a little) about how to be a grown-up. But when I pause the highlight reel and zoom in on certain days (especially during my freshman year!) there were some really tough ones. Some days when I felt lonely. Some days when I felt sad. Some days when I felt overwhelmed. Some days when I just missed home.
However, my most difﬁcult days were not focused on craving the familiarity of my old pre-college life. My greatest struggles were feelings of failure in my current college life. When I couldn’t ﬁgure out where I should be investing my time. When I was too scared or stubborn to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. When I couldn’t ﬁgure out who my new college best friends should be — the fun party girls from my dorm or the conservative Christian friends that I came expecting to meet. When I couldn’t ﬁgure out why I was frequently surrounded by drunk people. When I couldn’t seem to ﬁnd friends who believed the same thing I believed. When I was too lazy to get up for church on Sunday mornings. When I couldn’t ﬁgure out how I’d become so lukewarm in my faith. Those were my toughest days.
And if I’m totally honest with you, I could’ve done it better. I could’ve done college so much better.
So, I’ve been mulling it over to see if I can help you learn from my mistakes. If I got a do-over, this is how I’d do it knowing what I know now.
Here’s my top 10 list for how to get plugged in and do college well: