My Sweet Babies,
There are a few things I need you to know. They're actually things that I hope you already know. I hope you've learned them by observing your mother. I hope you already know them because you've seen living proof in our home. But I want them to be clear. And I want you to be able to hold onto these truths as you grow up.
Every year when I send you off to school I get a bit nervous. A large part of me wants to shield you from all of the terrible aspects of life. I'd mostly prefer that you didn't know about those parts until you were old enough to understand them and combat them. Part of me wants to hold you close . . . where I know you are loved and I know you'll feel safe. But the other part of me beams at the thought that you could go out into the world and be the glimmer of hope that someone might need. So every year as you go, please remember these five things:
You're a child of God.
Maybe it hasn't happened yet, but it will. Someone, or maybe multiple someones, are going to tell you you're not good enough. They're going to judge you by your achievements or your clothes or your features or your personality. They're going to think you don't measure up. And they're going to tell you so. And they probably won't do it quietly or with any kind of delicacy. The worst part is, they're going to think that they're right.
But let me let you in on a secret. It's a secret that I wish every child that came into this world was told and made to understand. I wish it was written all over the hearts of every boy, girl, man and woman. Your worth was determined long before you ever got here. Your worth was decided before you were mine. You were created by a God who in His flawless divinity never makes mistakes. So kids, please, stamp it on your hearts. Know who you are and know that because of that lineage your worth exceeds what you may be capable of understanding. Your value is not determined by anyone around you . . . not even by your own mother. You are the prized sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who entrusted you to me. I'm humbled by His trust and His vote of confidence.
Stand tall. Walk straight. Keep your chin up and your eyes on the purpose and end of your creation. If you can do that, nothing contrary that is ever uttered by another will make its way in. You will never feel the sadness that those who aren't accepted feel. You will never be drug down to that place where hope dies and confidence wanes. You are loved and accepted in the only place that will ever truly matter.
You can choose kindness in any situation.
When you run into people that hurt and humiliate and degrade, you may feel the inclination common to us all to strike back. In a desire to defend yourself, you might feel tempted to inflict the same punishment. But don't. Always be kinder than what you see as necessary. Don't be the one who attempts to decide what another person deserves. Be the one that leaves that judgement where it belongs. They're God's children too. He loves them just as much as He loves you. He can mend hearts. Don't give Him a reason to have to try and mend yours. Instead be an example of kindness and hope and mercy.
You're going to run into kids, and maybe even adults, whose hearts don't yet hold the truth that yours do. There are multitudes of people walking around that know nothing of who they are. And when those people are hurt, something inside of them breaks. Handle those hearts carefully. Lift the hands that hang down and the knees that bend in despair. Be a friend. Be a smile. Don't ever be the reason that another child feels alone. Don't ever be the one who inflicts that kind of hurt. Instead be known for your kindness and compassion. You will never regret that distinction.
Selfishness, however, is a distinction that you will regret. It breeds ugliness and nothing positive comes from it. In fact, it creates misery and ruins lives. If you want to find happiness, if you want to feel peace within your soul, then extend kindness without limit. Give service. Give it graciously and frequently. As giving becomes a part of who you are, you'll quickly realize that it's where happiness is found. Self-fulfillment, contrary to what the world will teach you, does everything but fulfill. Work on building up everyone around you and your cup will run over. It will know no bounds. Be the answer to as many prayers as you can.
You can spend your time wisely.
Time is an interesting thing. It's one of the only things that we maintain complete control over. That fact alone makes it a precious gift. The way we spend our time clearly defines what our priorities are. You are going to be bombarded with a myriad of things and people demanding your time. Give that time carefully. Choose wisely.
Always remember to spend as much time as possible on your knees. There is no other relationship that is as deserving of your undivided attention. When you rise from your knees, work to solve your problems and answer others' prayers. Spend time in your scriptures. Build a relationship with your Father in Heaven. Come to know your brother, Jesus Christ. Don't shortchange Them. Ever. Spend time with your family. Develop those eternal relationships. Spend time learning and growing and working.
Have fun, but please avoid mindless fun. Choose activities that bring joy, build, inspire and lift.
Please, don't ever buy into feminism.
This last part I approach carefully, but boldly. Feminism was originally a good thing. In this country women were granted the right to vote and fought for economic, social and political equality. All good things. I believe in equality. Had I been alive then, I would've fought for my right to vote. I would've stood toe-to-toe and fought anyone who maintained that my gender made me inferior. Men and women are equal in every way. But equal does not mean same. Feminism, generally speaking, has taken a shift toward the radical. It now attempts to blur gender lines, eliminating any and all differences between men and women. Much of feminism seeks to make gender irrelevant.
My sweet, strong daughters, your gender is an essential part of who you are. The world is going to start telling you that being a woman isn't good enough. They're going to tell you that motherhood is inferior and that you need to fight for something better. First of all, there is nothing better. Motherhood has been the greatest gift and blessing I have ever received. Your womanhood was divinely appointed and you were created with characteristics that give you an amazing capacity to nurture and serve and lift. I've never understood women who fight to be viewed the same as men. That fight says that womanhood is inferior and we need to reach for something greater. That fight says that men are better and until we are viewed to be the same, we are being mistreated. I'm sorry. No. Your womanhood makes you different, not inferior. Embrace your femininity. Hold on to that essential part of your soul. Love womanhood and love motherhood. You will never be sorry. Ignore the voices that are telling you that motherhood is not enough. Motherhood is everything. And you'll be great at it. Being a woman is noble and divine. Marry a man whose own mother taught him that truth. Marry a man whose heart loves, honors, respects, and reveres women.
My kind, valiant sons, your gender is an essential part of who you are too. Your role is different than mine. You are hardwired to protect and provide. And I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for manhood and womanhood and the way that those roles complement each other. I'm grateful that you will hopefully one day hold the priesthood power of God and will be able to bless those around you. You and your wife will be perfectly suited to bless each other and your children. God designed it this way. Please understand one thing. I don't care if you are the last men standing who are willing to defend the importance of womanhood and motherhood, I want you to do it. Make sure any woman who crosses your paths knows that she is enough. Never degrade or mistreat any girl or woman. I think this is part of the reason that women fight so hard to be someone else. Mistreatment pushes women into a place where their womanhood makes them feel inferior. Never be the cause of any woman going to that place. That place fosters a lie that destroys all that is good about women. Her womanhood doesn't make her inferior. It makes her beautiful. It makes her your perfect match. Defend women. Defend mothers. Always behave in a way that is befitting of a son of God.
Kids, I hope you know that I miss you when you're not here. I hope you know that your Father in Heaven misses all of us when we're away from Him like we are now. And just as I hope you'll make excellent choices, He hopes that of us too. There's so much I want you to know. Most importantly I want you to know that Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, lives. I know it with a surety. And until you learn that for yourself, trust in me. Follow His example and you will never go wrong. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings light and life to the world and that will always be the case, regardless of how many fight against it. Be a force for good. Be a light.
Thank you for being my children. I can hardly fathom how I was so deserving of such great blessings. You are loved and each one of you will always be enough. I love you.
Forever and Always,