|When advice was readily received...|
If you read my last blog, you already know that my wife and I are getting ready for our oldest daughter to go off to school.
As with most parents, it's a bittersweet time. Bitter, in the sense that we're really going to miss her. She's our firstborn, the one who made us want to be better persons and, to a lesser extent, our family soundtrack, who constantly breaks into song at a drop of a hat.
And, sweet, in that, we realize we have done the best we can. She is growing up, has blossomed into a beautiful and smart young lady and is becoming her own woman. (Although I'll be honest, the sweet, as much as I want to convince myself, taste more like Minnie's famous chocolate poop pie in The Help!)
In any case, as I brace for her departure, inspired by a book I read several years ago by one of my favorite authors, Peter Kreeft, titled, Before I Go; Letters to Our Children About What Really Matters and, hoping to avoid sounding like Charles Ryder's father and giving her some "judicious advice," delivered at the right time, I put some thoughts together to pass along.
Some are things I have told her through the years. Others are things I want to make sure she knows before she leaves home.
In no particular order, my advice for her is:
- Go out and change the world, don't let the world change you.
- Don't ever compromise who you are to be what people want you to be.
- You are not defined by what you do in life or how many accomplishments you attain, but by who you are. Always be true to yourself.
- The moment you change what you believe, even if only for public consumption because of popularity, is the moment you compromise who you are.
- What matters most in life are relationships; not career, accomplishments or things.
- Don't ever be too busy for your family (or true friends).
- Men are not your enemies.
- Love is not a feeling, it's a choice; an action you take to put someone else's needs before your own.
- Never be afraid of swimming against the tide, even when you get criticized.
- Don't look for the easy way out. Look for the righteous way.
- Your dreams and what you think is important today may not be as important in the future.
- Be humble. Pride is the downfall of many.
- You don't know it all and that's OK. Never stop learning.
- Truth is One. Error many.
- Always go to Mass on Sunday. No exception.
- When you sin, repent and go to Confession. Remember, there is no sin that is greater than God's love for you.
- Work to live. Don't live to work. Nobody on their deathbed says they wished they had gotten that promotion, made more money or spent more time at the office.
- Avoid becoming complacent. Complacency is where dreams and passion die.
- Real friends are those who tell you the truth no matter how harsh it may sound, not those that tell you what you want to hear. Seek real friends.
- Don't give up on what you want because of setbacks. Setbacks are part of life. They make you stronger so you can try harder.
- Just because something is popular, doesn't make it right. And, just because something is rejected by most, doesn't make it wrong. Know the difference.
- Don't try to be everything to everyone. Be yourself to those you love.
- Never be overconfident. Overconfidence leads to silly mistakes.
- A man who doesn't respect you now, will never respect you.
- If a man really loves you, he's not going to force you to go against what you believe.
- Before you say "yes," ask yourself, 'Is this the man who is going to lead me and my children to heaven?' If not, you're wasting your time.
- Feelings are fleeting. Love lasts forever. Always choose to love before your feelings.
- Success is not born. It takes hard work.
- When you feel like giving up; don't. Things always get better, even when they feel like they're getting worse.
- You can't hide from God so don't even try.
- Don't waste you life waiting for "the right time." The right time is now.
- True love is a reflection Christ's love; sacrificial, self-giving and life-giving.
- Test everything you hear from your college professors. As smart and authoritative as they may seem, not everything they'll teach you is right or objective. To quote Fr. Robert Valle at your high school graduation Mass, "Be careful what you accept into your minds and hearts."
- When something is really troubling you, you're under stress or don't know where to turn, find an Adoration Chapel and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. You'll find no greater peace, consolation and clarity.
- Don't lower your moral bar because everyone else lowers theirs, or because the culture says it's OK. Sadly, in the throes of human nature, people want others to fail so they can feel better about their own inadequacies. The lower the bar, the easier for everyone to feel the same.
- Excuses are for those who fail to accomplish what they set out to do.
- Never put your career ahead of your family.
- Pray every night before you go to sleep. As we did every night while you were here, your sister, brother and I will be praying for you.
- If you dress like a piece of meat, you're going to be treated like a piece of meat.
- Don't follow the crowd. Lead your own.
- At the end of the day, you will not be measured by your career, how much money you made or how popular you are. You will be measured by the love you gave. Give it freely.
- You deserve nothing. Earn it.
- Mom and I are always here for you if you need anything.
Hopefully, my advice is more substantive than the one Charles Ryder got from his father or his father got from Cousin Alfred. Although, wearing a tall hat on Sundays is hard to top...