I am not prone to overt sentimentality. In fact, I think about 98% of the tearjerkers that get passed along by e-mail and through Facebook that are supposed to make you misty eyed are often times pretty goofy. Now I’m not hard-hearted but I just don’t really get into forced sentimentality and I don’t enjoy stories that purposefully pull at your heart-strings. But every now and then a special story comes along that bears repeating and should be shared. I know that sounds like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth but once you see this story I think you will agree.
An “Inspirational Message” on Today News (found Here) is one of those stories. It is genuinely sad because a young 12 year old girl named Taylor Smith died suddenly of pneumonia last year. I cannot imagine the pain of a parent who loses a child and every day I thank God that all three of mine are healthy. I pray every night that they stay that way and that they have the benefit of health and opportunity. That is why the stories of children dying or getting hurt are usually the ones I avoid at all cost. I have a very hard time thinking about the tragedy of the loss of young life and I ache for the parents who are living this grief. Because of this I am not going to belabor the death of this beautiful young girl. Instead I want you to consider what she did.
Taylor, at the age of 12, wrote a letter to herself and put instructions on the envelope that no one but her was to open it and that it should not be opened until April 13, 2023 – 10 years after the day it was written.
The letter is not significant for its prose nor its mastery of pen. It is significant because it is a letter of expectation and wonderment. It is significant because it is the thought process of a child who is looking towards the future and is wondering what life and opportunity awaits her. It is incredibly special because she writes from a place of innocence and a place of anticipation. She wants to know if she has been on a plane yet. She wants to know what her college major is and whether or not she has her own place yet. She wants to know how her relationship with God is and she evens orders herself to make sure her heart is given to her faith in Christ. The letter is followed by pictures of a precious young girl doing the things that make childhood special. There are photos of a Daddy-Daughter Dance, silly pictures with friends, and sweet pictures of her holding her newborn sister (you can read the letter and see the photos here.)
What is it that makes this letter and this story so special?
It is the reminder that kids still look forward to a future of possibilities and opportunities. Kids still are curious about what tomorrow will look like and they wonder what they will accomplish. Kids still believe that their place in the world will matter. Taylor wrote to herself and she opined about who she would become and what she would be doing. Sadly all of her curiosities were met with a reality that denied her expectations.
Thank goodness we live in a place and time where childhood dreams are seldom ended by illness and even death. Between vaccinations and preventative healthcare most kids will live to see a long life. But that doesn’t mean they won’t see their dreams and excitements and opportunities taken away.
Young children long for acceptance and will try to please mom and dad and teachers because their praise matters. As they grow they begin to long for the praise and acceptance of their peers and their community. As their circle of needed acceptance expands so does their vulnerability. Many kids are not met with acceptance and affection. Whether at home, at school, or with friends, many kids lose their fervor for life far too early because someone else has convinced them that they are not worthy of the dreams they once dreamed.
Harsh words and demeaning criticism can dim the light of a child’s self-faith quickly. Moms and Dads and teachers and those whom a child looks up to not only hold their physical health in their hands they hold their emotional and social stability and growth as well. Reprimands that go from necessary to personal and words that cross from discipline to meanness can snuff out a child’s sense of self-worth and belonging.
Today challenge yourself to find the kids who are around you that need to have that light of hope rekindled. Kind words and exhortations can help overcome some of the meanness. Reminders of importance and self-worth can help. Compliments and back-pats can help pick up a child whose confidence has been knocked down.
Some precious young souls like Taylor will not get the opportunity to see their potential because of illness or accident. Some will not live to see their opportunity fulfilled because they stop believing that they are worth of that opportunity. As sad as the loss of a young child’s life is the sadness of a young child’s hope bears the same burden of loss.
Rekindle a young child’s hope today by reminding them that the future is there for them.
Use a kind word and a compliment to affirm worth and remind kids that they really do matter.