Yesterday I threw a dinner party for 10 guests. What a party that would be! Today I wrote a letter to myself as a child. Because I get the make up the rules, I am writing to a 10-12 year old version of myself.
A Letter to Myself As a Child
Dear Little Amy,
This is Grown Up Amy, and I’m writing today to give you a glimpse of your future and perhaps a little advice to steer you in this direction.
The first thing you must know about yourself – you live a charmed life and you have no idea. You have the ultimate privilege of being born in a small town in rural America. You have two working parents, you are white, you go to school every day, you have clothes, food, money for extras, and live in a nice home. You have parents that love you dearly, an extended family nearby, lots of friends, and a church. If you get sick, you just go to the clinic and get medicine. If you are hungry, you can buy candy at the dime store with the change in your pocket. If you want to ride your bike home from a friend’s house at 11 pm, darn it, you can do it because it’s safe.
You won’t see or understand divorce, racism, lack of education, hunger, homelessness, loneliness, violence, godlessness, crime or 3rd world living anytime soon. But when you do encounter social injustice, tuck it into your heart and figure out how to approach it with compassion.
I know, I know. You are saying, “How can I have a desire to end hunger when I’ve never gone hungry? How can I understand racism when I’ve never once in my life been called out for my race? Why would I give any of my hard-earned money to a homeless woman? She didn’t do anything to earn it. What could little old me do anyhow? Surely none of these big worldly problems affect anyone I know.”
Look outside of yourself. Way outside. Outside the warm house, outside the meal on the table, outside the bedtime hugs and kisses from Mom and Dad. There are people all around you, even your neighbors, who are in need. Look at everyone with compassion. You will never know the whole story, so the best approach all day long is love and kindness. Have courage to fill needs with time, money and talent. Don’t worry about the back story. It’s not important. After awhile, you’ll start to realize that your problems are nothing compared to the problems of others. Never, ever take your charmed life for granted.
If you let your love and compassion shine for all the world to see, the natural outcome will be to say it out loud. Take every opportunity to show kindness and gratitude in your words. Look people in the eye and tell them you love them. Give long, genuine hugs. You never know when you will lose a loved one. The fragility of life never ceases to amaze me. You are going to lose grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. You are going to watch close friends struggle through loss. You are going to stand slack-jawed staring at atrocity after atrocity on the television. Life is completely unfair.
Find the good in every situation. It keeps the negative away and makes the intolerable tolerable. Surround yourself with like-minded people and you will experience unbelievable joy. Sure, it won’t be perfect, but you will be equipped to handle the imperfect with grace, love, and patience.
One last thing – stop taking yourself so seriously. Good lord, is that annoying.
Grown Up Amy
Let’s take a break from the serious stuff and do something a little more light-hearted tomorrow: favorite children’s books.