As I look in the mirror, reflecting on the previous year, I can create grand visions for what I can become by the end of the new year. But here we are, half way into January, when new year’s resolutions often take a relaxing slide into the rushing currents of life and get swept away. Even so, I still like resolving in the new year to be resolute in my vision for what is yet to come. And what I can become. So today I take-up a resolute spirit to pull those goals out of the muddy river and try again in the last half of Jan. But it all tends to ebb in Feb. And I usually lurch in March. Restart the drill in April. I may try in May. Fine tune in June…and so on. We all need encouragement along the way.
I do love encouraging kids. It’s my mission in visiting schools and my vision for writing. Yet one of the more difficult challenges of encouraging kids is guiding them to realize that they can and should reach for their dreams, believe in their hopes, and achieve the positive and powerful vision of their future. But the difficulty comes not in telling them that but in convincing them to persevere in it throughout their lifetime. It’s easy to teach kids to be resolute in their dreams. It’s another thing for all of us to actually do it in our own life. Kids learn best by their leader’s example.
So much of life is about the discipline of purpose inside the day-to-day, often mundane, steps of achievement. Circumstances often break down our hopes. While encouraging kids, we also must provide them training for what it’s really like. Life is hard work. It can be downright depressing at times. It will sucker punch you. At some point it will knock you flat. Life is often a battle for the dignity of those whom we love. It is a disciplined struggle to maintain our grace and strength in the face of cheating, foul-playing competitors. The difficulty of mentoring kids is not only encouraging them in their powerful future but also leading them through reality without discouraging them.
So how do we balance encouragement and reality? I struggle with it in my own life as I resolve in the new year to reach forward and keep reaching forward. God calls us to give encouragement. Every day. Everywhere. As family, friends, writers, teachers, and parents, we’re meant to encourage kids to realize who they can truly become. Let them know that they can look in the mirror and reach for that powerful adulthood. Kids are not delusional when they imagine themselves as a hero, a heroine of a greater story. Encouragement, the thoughtful, deep kind, is the greatest gift we can give in the New Year.
Although we should never hesitate to encourage, we should do so inside the backdrop that life isn’t without suffering. And, together, in faith, we can strengthen the fiber of our heart, our family, our friends, and our community in every step of hard work and in the far reach of a generous, loving soul. So we press forward, resolute in the New Year to go deeper in our encouragement.