#30ThankYous “Day 24”: Olivia.

Hey kiddo,

I’ve been looking forward to writing this one.

I know the last few years have been tough. High school and college are tough, anyway; having to learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can, so that you can make these really huge decisions about the direction of your life. No pressure, right?

On top of that common level of stress, you have had to deal with some really ugly situations and cruel people–people who used their words and actions to slash at your heart and try to cripple your joy. At times, I know the shadows have threatened to creep in at the edges, choking out the light and hope you cling to. Yet through it all, you have fought to keep your heart open. Instead of growing more cynical and defensive, you haven’t given up on looking for the best in others, offering them friendship and welcome.

Some might argue that this kind of attitude is naive and recklessly optimistic. But do you know what I think? I think compassion and empathy are your superpowers. 

But like super strength and flight and any other superpower, these must be used carefully. You have to train yourself to know when and how to use them wisely, for the ultimate good of others, and when to pull back a bit and recognize danger–sometimes love demands you do battle against the darkness. But I hope you never lock these qualities away completely. You are stronger than you realize. You are braver than you can even admit to yourself. Your love for people is how you make a difference. You can take the grace you have received and extend it to others.

Thank you for not giving in to cynicism, and for holding on to hope. You bring so much joy and light into my life and the life of my family. You matter, sis. You are seen and loved. And I am deeply proud of you. As far as I’m concerned, you’re an all-star.

–d.

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