Tag Archives: Advice

Nothing Good Gets Away

steinbeck

 

I just discovered this letter. It took my breath away. I had to share.

John Steinbeck wrote it to his son.  His son was at boarding school and had written to his father to tell him he was falling in love.

This is so beautiful and tender and true.

It brings tears to my eyes because I had a father that wrote letters to me.  My dad wrote me once a week when I was in college…his beautiful handwriting on thick paper folded neatly into a matching envelope.  Always addressed, “Dearest Susan” and always ending with, “Love, Your Father”. He was gentle and kind. I miss him.  I’m so grateful he was mine.

All of this has me thinking about the things we tell our kids.  The advice we give and the way we shape their views through our responses.  Oh Lord I pray for the right words to tell my kids. I hope that I have offered (and will offer!) words that will give hope and encourage.

Here’s the letter.  Enjoy.

New York

November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second—There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind.
The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable.

The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply—of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it—and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa

I know. Take a moment. Reread. NOTHING GOOD GETS AWAY.

I’d love to read your comments. What advice did your parents give you that encouraged you?

©2016 Sue Bidstrup, All Rights Reserved, Great Big Yes™

You Get Wise, You Get to Church!

community october

 

My husband loves to quote movies. Thus, the title of this post.  Can anyone tell me who said it? Or what movie it’s from?

We get lots of advice from people, don’t we?  Solicited, Unsolicited…it doesn’t matter, some people just like to advise.  Let’s be honest, we have all been given some bad advice over the years.  If we are really honest, we have to admit we’ve likely also offered some bad advice.

Someone told me once that you should be careful who you hang around with because you will start to become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Hmmm…that got me thinking.

My husband and I are attending a class at church and one of the pastors explained it like this…We are all playing along, living our lives, grading ourselves on our holiness, assuming we are getting about a B.  If we are super prideful, we may actually believe we are getting an A.  We are following rules, we are “religious”, we are successful in the world’s eyes, we don’t see any overt sin in our lives (usually because we are avoiding seeing it).  We compare ourselves with others and we come out on top…”At least I’m not as bad as that guy!” We may give money to charitable causes and maybe we serve a little but out of duty.  Or maybe we do feel a passion to serve and we are doing and saying all the right things.  We go to church but we are not necessarily living transformed lives.  We look past that though and drift along, showing up in all the right places. We give ourselves high marks for things we think are “holy”.  We deem ourselves, “pretty good”, maybe a B- or a C plus.  Most of us know better than to say we are an A.  We may think it but we know we should be humble because we learned that in Sunday school, so we give ourselves a B while patting ourselves on the back for our humility.

Meanwhile, the Bible tells us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. The Bible says that keeping the law is not what’s important.  James 2:10 tells us “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” I don’t know about you but I know I’m not capable of keeping all of the Laws in the Bible.  I’m working on the Big 10.

So the pastor had written a bunch of grades on the board…A, B-, C…and then he put a slash through all of them and said, “Actually, we are all getting an F”. And there was a big red F on the board. Now for someone like me who is a rule follower, this does not sit well.  I have spent my life doing what I’m told, caring about rules, following God’s commandments, going to church, taking communion, praying, writing, speaking and yoga-ing for Jesus.  The sting of this truth revealed my heart.  I was trying to be “good enough” for God. I believed I was about a B. I was performing and striving and hoping and praying that my “works” would please Him.  Maybe you do this too? Maybe you’ve been fighting to be an A and when you feel like a C, despair sets in. Friends, that despair is not from the Lord.  The Lord offers hope.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.” – Romans 8:3

See, God knows us and loves us and sent His son to save us.  Picture that report card with an F on it.  When Jesus came, it miraculously changed into an A. He wiped our slate clean. This is the good news.  This is the Gospel.

The toughest part of this for some is not believing that Jesus came or that God loves us or that the sacrifice on the cross was for us…the toughest part for some of us is admitting that we cannot do it alone. We don’t believe the F.   It’s difficult to admit our own weakness and need for a Savior.  But it is necessary.  If you could do it alone, Jesus’s life and death would mean nothing.

Some people in our lives, some of our “teachers” will tell us we are a B, we are “doing great”, we should just work harder, do more, give more and then we will be enough. But the wise teachers will tell us about the one who hands out the A’s.  Our wise teachers will lead us the the only One who can give us a passing grade.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

I told someone once that I am a sinner saved by grace and she looked at me and said, “Yeah, right. What have you ever done wrong?”  Isn’t that just like us? We assume other people have it all together.  We look at our shortcomings but speculate that others have none. Y’all.  For real. We are all sinners. We can dress ourselves up and shellack the heck out of our lives but underneath, we all struggle with sin.

This is not fun to talk about.  That’s why we don’t. But once we get past this part…this conviction and repentance part…we get to grace.  Grace gives the A. Grace graduates us.

Surround yourself with truth tellers. People who will lead you to the Master Teacher.  People who will lovingly and tenderly call you out on your junk. Friends, we are all jacked up. You, me and all our neighbors, pastors, priests, teachers, politicians, leaders.  Don’t look to the right and left and think “they have no sin” or “I have no sin compared to them”. Jesus is the only one without sin.  As for us, we are all in the same boat…we are all castaways in need of rope.

Let Jesus be your teacher.  Spend time with Him.  Make Him the one you spend the most time with. As for your 5?  Hang around with people who point you to Him.

I look forward to seeing you all in our caps and gowns on graduation day…humbled and grateful for the way He handed out A’s.  All of us, incredulous at our good fortune, knowing the courses were tough and we could not have passed if not for Him.

©2015 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved

Clapping and Crying with all the other Moms

I always weep at endings.

The end of the school year slays me every time.

More than any other ending, it marks time for me. The slash on the calendar is dark blood red. This ending has been earned. Yet I don’t want it.

The door closing feels heavy and even though I know I have no power to stop it, I feel like running toward it, asking nicely if it could take it’s time…close slowly…tenderly…give us a few more days.

The slamming seems final. And it is.

Another year of lunches and rides and notes and homework…the cycles of sports and choir and band and art…the friends that hurt and the friends that helped us heal…the joy of newness and the scary stuff…the failing and fumbling and the tears.

All the laughing and running and playing is dying down over here.

No more Barbie Jeep, no more sparkly streamers hanging from handlebars.  No one wants to play on the slip and slide.  I remember days of baby pools and strollers and swing sets…the messiness…the laughter…the living.

Star Wars figures have taken their place on the shelf…dusty and alone.

I’m wandering around the house trying to look busy (to who? I don’t know? The busy police?)…trying to be busy to take my mind off the ending.  But I just wander…not really understanding how I feel.

I look at the bookshelf…a safe place to get lost for a while.  The books mark our journeys from Junie B. Jones to John Green and I can’t seem to part with any.  It’s like a living scrapbook of words that have fed our souls and kept us company.  We will never have too many books. They are our friends…constant and reliable.

I just saw a friend who is moving in a week.  She welcomed us when we moved into the neighborhood 11 years ago.  We have had many a cup of coffee and a glass of wine while the kids played and the years passed. I love her. She was boxing up things and I was in her empty house and I just couldn’t take it.  We both just stood there and cried. No words.

Another ending.

I always weep at endings.

The last of my kids finish up at elementary school this year.  The adorable, loving, little, everyone knows your name elementary school.  The place where they have taught and nurtured and loved my kids for 11 years.  Talk about the end of an era.

We “Clap out” our kids at the end of school.  All the parents line up and clap while the 5th graders march out.  I think they should call it the “Cry out” for me.  I’m anticipating weeping at that ending too.  Hey! We should call it the clap and cry out…clapping and crying at the same time pretty much sums up motherhood.

Weeping seems bad, right? Like I’m unhappy. But I’m not. I swear.

I’m just confused.

How did I go from eagerly anticipating my first baby to having three kids out of grade school (and two in high school!)?

How did I go from spoon feeding peas to worrying about drinking and driving and dating?

My son said the other day that he “hates change”.  He said, “Change is bad”.

Oh no I thought…I have to help him see change in a positive light…change is the only thing we know for sure will happen.  We have to get used to it.  We have to accept it.  It’s not bad…right?

Maybe he thinks it’s bad because I’m over here crying looking at baby pictures.  What have I done?

I specifically remember my mom talking to me about this.  Many times.  It’s an ending sure but it’s a beginning too…or it’s a beginning and it’s exciting and you are happy but the reason you are crying is because it’s an ending too…how many times over the years are we in that space…that in between…the ending and the beginning.

The sadness and the excitement…the saying good-bye and saying hello.  It doesn’t even matter how many times…I always weep at endings.

I remember once I was crying on the phone to my mom during the college years…I was distraught…things were changing…I just had a break up…I was down.  This is what she said to me…no joke…and it worked…”Honey, seriously, stop crying…wash your face, put on some lipstick, get a Diet Coke and Get out there.”

Diet Coke and lipstick…the cure all.

And now I’m the mom. I have to buck up and give the advice now.

Of course I can’t tell my son to put on lipstick.  What’s the equivalent for a boy?

And telling them to have a Diet Coke seems archaic like I didn’t get the memo…so do I say…have an organic green smoothie?  That doesn’t have the same ring to it.

How about this?

Change is part of life.  It’s difficult and it’s okay to cry.  When we cry, we know we are most alive because our heart is feeling things.  When we are sad to move on it means we have loved where we have been and that is a gift.  A treasure.  You are building your story and God is moving you along as you become who you are meant to be.  You take all of this with you.  All of the memories, the people, the experiences, the feelings, the knowledge, the wisdom…you are like a sponge and you absorb it all.  Things are changing yes and so are you – you are ready.  Be grateful. Take a minute.  Let the grateful tears fall…acknowledge that you are a little scared of something new…recognize that you were comfortable and that felt good.  But part of life is getting comfortable being uncomfortable.  Learning that you can do hard things.  Trusting that all will be well.  It’s time to move on now.  You do not go alone.  Dad and I are with you every step of the way.  And God is with you…he knows what you need and He can’t wait to give it to you.  Life is amazingly beautiful. Get out there.

Step joyfully into this new adventure

I will be stepping out with you…clapping and crying all the way.

graduation first step

©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved