Monday, June 8, 2015

Building Your Emotional Toolbox: A Letter to my Son


Arlo,

There are many lessons I want you to learn in life and many character traits that I think will be important in shaping you into an honorable man. You already have a dogged determination when pursuing a task and a hint of budding charisma that I think will combine to make you a person who can be quite persuasive! As I look into your bright, inquisitive, 16 month old eyes; I do not see a hint of prejudice or hatred. No stereotypes have swept in to cloud your judgement of another person's character. Today my heart is heavy because the world is not like you. The world is full of snap judgements and assumptions. I take one look at my newsfeed on any given day and see this harsh reality. Between friends posting photos of their babies, and cute YouTube videos, there is a constant negative stream of judgement. The world can be cruel and taunting and I now see that the heaviness of motherhood is knowing the reality of the world and wanting better for your children.

It's my job as your mother to help you build your emotional toolbox. These are the first three traits I want to add:

1) Kindness. I want you to have a friendly, generous, and considerate heart. Kindness breeds empathy, and if you can understand the feelings of others, you will be a better person for it. 

2) Tolerance. I want you to have a fair and objective view when it comes to those who may differ from you in their own opinions and beliefs. I want your heart to be free of bigotry. Just because you may not feel the same way as someone else, doesn't mean you should have condemnation or hatred towards them. Remember that you have not walked in their shoes.

3) Bravery. I want you to have a fearless heart. I want you to be unafraid to recognize injustice and inequality and speak up. I want you to feel freedom to love others without fear of persecution. 

These aren't ground-breaking ideals. This is all some pretty basic WWJD, love your neighbor as yourself stuff, but somehow it seems radical. I know you will learn by watching, so this means I need to do undertake some realigning myself:


  • I will work to model kindness for you. Even when dealing with a rude customer service provider, or being cut off in the parking lot. I will try to model kindness and realize that I don't know what could be going on in that person's life to spark that behavior. 
  • I will work to model tolerance for you. It's hard for me to understand the struggles of the transgendered because I haven't walked in those shoes, but I can be thankful that I do not have that burden, and treat them with love and grace.
  • I will work to model bravery for you. I will strive to publicly stand on the side of what is right and fearlessly show you that when Jesus said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" that he wasn't speaking figuratively, or only about a small group of Christians, but to all of us.
I won't always get it right, but I'll do my best. 


I love you so much, 

Mommy

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