Dear Beautiful Girl-
I’ve been writing to you for as long as I can remember. I used to dream you, see, as early as middle school, maybe before. I’ve been imagining your life for my whole life. And that life of yours? The one that’s wiggling around inside of me as I type this, dancing its tiny rumpumpum parade under stretched skin? It’s about to get started in a great big way.
Now that you’re real and not just a maybesomedayimagining of mine, I’ve been spending some time thinking about what Fave and I want to teach you. Somehow, I’ve convinced myself that if I meditate on these things you’ll emerge knowing them – spring forth from my loins full of supernatural wisdom and fully convinced of truths I’ve spent the last 30 years trying to believe. As though you can gestate knowledge as well as flesh. As though we have a temporary hive mind, you and I, and this is my chance to download your instructions in ways you’ll never be able to shake, save for some unforseen sci-fi future that, for your sake, hopefully involves Matt Damon.
If I could write ten things on your heart, Beautiful Girl of mine, I would write them as follows:
1. You are inherently, innately, unchangeably valuable. Your extraordinary value is a simple fact of your personhood – it is not alterable by action, it does not wane with your failures nor improve with your successes. You are valuable, so unbelievably preciously valuable, simply because you are. No movement or lack there of on your part will ever change this truth. You will remain as perfectly priceless every day of your life as you are in this perfect, untouched moment that is your current reality.
2. The only thing as unalterable as your value is the incredible way in which you are loved. Your daddy and I will do our best to love you as well as we possibly can, but even we will be unable to love you as perfectly as you are loved by your Creator, who planned you, formed you, sees you, and knows you – you will be mightily loved in every moment of your being. Loved because you are valuable. Loved because you are.
3. You can’t be anything and everything you want to be. Everyone has limits, everyone needs help, everyone falls short. You won’t always have all the tools you need, the skills you desire, or the somethings you covet. But you can, you will, be amazing. You can be the best version of yourself that you set your mind to being. You get to make choices. You get to set the bar high and meet it. You get to knock people’s socks off if you are willing to work at it. And you will always, always, have a whole posse of folks who believe in you and are hopelessly, embarrassingly proud of you, no matter what.
4. People are specific, individual, and worth seeing. You’re coming into a world that defaults to categorization. They’ll want you to choose a side. They’ll tell you which groups you belong to and which you don’t. They’ll try to define you by a single aspect of your person – your political affiliation, your religious belief, your sexual orientation. Hear me: it’s all bullsh*t. Don’t use that word. The moment you buy into these categories, you lose something beautiful. You lose your ability to learn from someone else, to see the world for all its colors and possibilities – you lose your credibility in an argument, and significantly worse, your ability to love people for who they are. Don’t be fooled. You’re smarter than that.
5. It doesn’t hurt to be kind. Kindness shouldn’t come before honesty, or before love, but it should follow them closely and be present in their application whenever possible. People aren’t worthy of your kindness – give it to them anyway. Love extravagantly. Love like you’re doing it for passionate vengeance. Love like the whole world is redeemed every time someone smiles. You’ll never regret loving others well, treating them kindly, giving something of yourself.
6. Silliness is an incredibly valuable currency in this household you’re about to enter. Your being silly will be encouraged, potentially demanded, and always cherished. This world is best handled with laughter and an ability to view one’s self lightly. You are beautiful always, Beautiful Girl. Don’t ever be afraid to look ridiculous. All the bravest and wisest people are the ones who boldly risk ridiculousness. Be among them.
7. You have the best grandparents, the best aunts and uncles, the best cousins and great grandparents and friends and community in all the world. Shower them with hugs and kisses. Learn what they have to teach you. Treasure them as they will treasure you. Also, life is best lived in the company of a dog.
8. It is okay to be pretty AND smart. You don’t have choose to be a princess or a politician. You get to be both. It’s your birthright as a woman. Don’t worry about it – just enjoy it.
9. God is. You will have to find Him in your own way, on your own time, but He’ll be there. We’ll give you the space you need to discover Him on your own terms. We will always believe that the two of you will find each other.
10. This list will change 1000x over the course of your great big life. I promise to build it. I promise to list the things you’ll teach me as I learn them, to feed them back to you, those bits of wisdom that are rightfully yours. Your parents don’t know much, but we know we love you. Shoot. I forgot to mention that sappy songs are fantastic fun. See? It’s starting already.
Here is the deepest secret nobody knows – here is the root of the root and the sky of the sky and the bud of the bud of a tree called life that grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide – and here is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart – You are the best of all things, Beautiful Girl, that God has given to your daddy and me. I carry your heart with me.
We can’t wait to meet you.
Italicized from i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart) by e.e.cummings