Dear Alex, Anna and Thomas:
I remember riding in the car with your Uncle Steve the summer before I was heading to college. He looked at me, his naïve little sister, and said something important.
"When you get to college, there are going to be people who do things in front of you that will shock you. There will be people who admit to doing things that are against everything you believe in. It doesn't make them bad people. It just makes them people who've done things."
He proceeded to list some of the things he'd seen, some of the things he'd done, some of the things that people had told him. And then he told me something else. He said that when he got done with his first year of college he went home and thanked Mom and Dad, telling them, "I may not have always chosen to do the right thing, but at least I always knew right from wrong. That's a lot more than some other kids at college had."
Those two things impacted me more than I can tell you. Because I got out of that car knowing that I did know right from wrong and I could choose right regardless of what everyone else chose, and I knew that I could love people even when they chose wrong.
That they were more than their mistakes.
Just like you will always be more than your mistakes. You will always be loved by me for exactly who you are at any given moment. And I will always be a safe place to turn if you need one.
I have been blessed in my life to have friends from so many different walks of life. I have friends who are so like me I can't believe we're not twins, and I have friends who are so different from me that people don't understand how we can have any kind of relationship. And I love them all the same because every one of them has brought a richness to my life.
So I wanted to write this down as you three start college classes this week. I wanted a place where you could come and read the wise words your Uncle Hoody said to me, because it served me well in college and in all the years of relationships afterward.
Because that's what life is, guys... a series of relationships that shape us and others in profound ways.
Know that while you will learn a lot in college classes and you will shape your future and get your degree, some of the greatest lessons you'll learn in college boil down to this: Be who you are and don't compromise yourself for anyone. But don't shut anyone out just because they are different. Love them. Listen to them. Meet them where they are at and be who God meant you to be ... an extension of Him in the lives of those around you.
And have a lot fun while you do it.
And don't forget your Aunt Sara is here if you need her. For anything. Any time.
I love you. All the way around the world and back.