Dear Sam (on your first day of Eighth Grade)…

Dear Sam…

Whew! Welcome to your last year of Middle School. It’s been such a weird ride… Moving. Trying all the sports. Navigating friendships. COVID! Zoom classes. Quarantine. So much loss, learning, and adjusting.

Through it all, I’ve seen you mature a bit more every week. Sometimes more than a bit. Lately, it seems like I’m watching a movie montage of you growing into a proper teenager.

Here is the long-awaited growth spurt! Here is the newfound strength to run three miles every day! Here is your compassion to help the vulnerable! Here is your patience to sit with the impossible Algebra homework for hours every night!

Yet, even as you grow up, you are not losing the part of you that is essentially Sam. You question everything. You say the thing everyone is thinking. You crave authenticity and connection all the time. You are endlessly curious. You feel everything so deeply.

Mostly, you are tenacious. As I’m writing this, I got an email from you. You thanked me for bringing your forgotten computer up to school. You were frustrated and admitted, “This is not my week.” Maybe not, because this week has been rough. But here is what I know about you, Sam. You keep showing up. Over and over again, you keep trying. You hate hard days and you are still here for all of them.

Mostly, Sam, I love your faith. You feel God with you in the hard times. You know you are never truly alone. Your tenacity and curiosity and sensitive soul are all part of your faith. You always turn to God in the toughest times.

And, really, that’s all you need, buddy to navigate this year, and high school, and the rest of your life.

I love the kid you are and the man you’re becoming…


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