Death is not something I usually spend time pondering. However, recent medical complications have forced me to face the reality that time on this Earth is not guaranteed. My three boys are still young; they are two, three and five. After receiving scary news from doctors, I have given myself permission to think about what I would want my children to know if I wasn’t around to teach them.
Here are five of the most crucial things that came to mind:
1. You are so deeply loved. Unconditionally.
Human beings lack the ability to show love perfectly, but that does not mean you aren’t loved perfectly. Perfect love is unconditional love. It’s constant and consistent love. It’s a love that doesn’t waver when feelings of anger or disappointment get on the way. Unconditional love is not something you earn based on what you do. It is freely given.
You were created out of unconditional love. The first breath you took was filled with perfect love and that love still lives inside of you. It will never leave you. You may not always feel it, but I promise it’s there. It’s a love that humans can’t define or explain. A love that’s infinitely deeper than our ability to comprehend.
Tap into that love, sweet child. Find where it lives and access it as much as possible. A life fueled by perfect love is a life you don’t want to miss out on. It will be a life that brings about incomprehensible joy and profound peace. Live that life, it was meant for you.
2. People are inherently good.
People are going to fail you. They are going to disappoint you. They are going to make mistakes and they will inevitably hurt you. People are human beings and human beings are flawed. But don’t let their fallible nature jade you. People are innately good, even when they try to prove otherwise.
We are all born into this world pure and innocent. Life experience and circumstance can cause people to act mean. Their actions are often a defense mechanism; it’s how they’ve learned to protect themselves. Hurting people hurt people. Those who are mean to you are deeply hurting and need your compassion. Be kind and trust that they are good. Be the one that restores their faith in humanity. If you look for the good in others, you will always find it. Sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper.
3. What you do does not define who you are.
What you do with your life doesn’t matter. You might grow up to be a world renown surgeon or you might struggle your whole life to find jobs that will pay the bills. Your job does not matter. But who you are while you’re doing your job matters. Who you are when people are watching and when they aren’t, matters. You matter. You are important. You are worthy of love and belonging. You are kind, considerate, and selfless.
You were created to matter. Show the world that you matter. Show other people that they matter. Every life matters. Each life should be cherished. Live like you matter. Love like others matter. Because at the end of the day, people won’t remember what you do, they’ll remember who you are.
4. Life was not meant to be lived alone; Let people in.
Human beings are wired for connection. We just are. Deep down in every single one of us is the desperate need to be seen, heard, and understood, all by-products of connection. That twinge of unease you feel when someone misunderstands you is that longing for connection. The ache in the pit of your stomach when you desperately want to be noticed is that longing for connection. The hurt you feel when you don’t get invited to the biggest party at school is that longing for connection.
And that longing for connection does not mean you are flawed. It does not mean there is something wrong with you. It means you are human. Trust that longing. Pay attention to your feelings. Follow your heart. And most of all, let people in. You are never alone, despite how lonely you may feel. Reach out, talk to others. Make yourself vulnerable. Two souls sharing a moment of connection is what life is about; Embrace those moments.
5. You are not exempt from the human experience. And the human experience is riddled with pain.
Humans are not guaranteed a pain free existence. In fact, quite the opposite. You will experience pain. You will grieve. You will experience heartache. Things will happen in your life, unexpected, unexplainable, excruciating things, that will leave you devastated and cause you to question everything you know to be true. That’s okay. It’s all part of the experience.
But hear this, sweet child: You did nothing wrong. The presence of pain in your life does not mean you are living a bad/immoral/unjust life. Pain is nothing other than part of the human experience. People will try to tell you that good deeds and sound faith can buy your way out of tragedy. That’s simply not true. Tragedy will happen in your life and it will not be your fault. It will not be deserved. But you can choose to handle it with grace, dignity, and a whole lot of faith because responding to tragedy in a way that inspires others will bring purpose into your pain.
Don’t let the world rob you of who you were created to be. Don’t let the people around you jade your perception of humanity. And don’t let your pain be your excuse to shut the world out. Hold tight to what you know. Believe in yourself. Love others, fiercely. Be the good you see in the world.