Dear Catie…
I’m writing this on the day of your last volleyball game. Your coach predicts you might win this game, which is good news for your team. They seem tired of losing. You seem a little tired of losing. But really, you’re fine either way.
This is you, Catie. You’re just happy. You rarely pout. You don’t sulk. You never really hold grudges. You don’t take life too seriously. Life is always–always–for fun.
And love.
And hugs.
What a wonderful person to be, honey, this fun-loving, light-hearted, silly girl with so much happiness in her heart.
As you get older, that lightheartedness can drive some people crazy. They want you to take life more seriously. Focus more. Put on your game face.
You’re not really a game-face kind of person. You are a smiling kind of person.
The difference between those two–the tension between those two–is the struggle of life. Every situation is the balance between taking yourself too seriously and not taking yourself seriously enough. Your first volleyball season showed where you fall on the spectrum.
During games, you smiled and waved. You laughed a lot. You never got upset. Not when you served the ball into the net. Not when the ball fell at your feet. Not when your team lost every game. You skipped out of the gym afterwards and said, “That was FUN!”
This attitude means you rarely get frustrated. You are not the kid stomping to the car because you “just want to win!” You are, however, the kid posing for pictures during team meetings, while your coach is discussing strategies.
I don’t know much about playing sports, but I’m guessing doing that drives your coach a little crazy. Grown-ups like it when kids love something they love. We feel successful when kids take something really seriously that we also take really seriously.

When I was your age, I took reading very seriously. It was my absolute favorite way to spend a day. So, naturally, I kind of thought you would take reading very seriously. But that’s not you. You are full of energy, and your mind is usually going in six trillion different directions. Reading seems too slow for you, too passive for you.
As you’ve grown up this year, I’ve watched you take school more and more seriously. Every night when you do your homework, you put on a little more of your game face. When you study for a spelling test or memorize the books of the Bible, you scrunch up your face with a bit more concentration than I’ve seen before.
More than ever before, you want to do well in school. You are so excited when you ace a test. You’re even a little sad when you don’t do well. Your face kind of crumbles and you question (just a little bit) why you didn’t get an A.
But then, because you’re Catie, the shadow passes from your face. Your smile returns, and you shrug. And then, like always, you hug me and tell me you’re okay either way.
I love all this about you, Catie.
Especially your hugs.
You are discovering the balance between taking life seriously and having fun. You’ve already mastered the most important lessons on this Earth: to love Jesus and love others with your whole heart.
P.S.  I never did take volleyball very seriously. You’re already way better than I ever was.

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