Dear Sam (on your first day of high school),

Here we are—fifteen years old, freshman in high school, and learning to drive. It feels exactly right for you to be tackling these milestones, and also a bit startling. To see you in the halls of high school, with boys who are 6’2 and girls who are ready for college, is exciting and a little unnerving.

And the driving? As it turns out, that’s the best metaphor for this season. I love your enthusiasm for life, Sam—but your excitement about learning to drive is my favorite.

You strap on your seatbelt, grin at me, and say, “Okay! Where should I take you?”

And I remind you of the same three rules … relax, stay focused, and be kind.

This is my best advice for high school, too.

First, remember to relax. The stakes are higher in high school—and they’re also not. You’re secure in who you are as God’s child and that’s enough, Sam. Making varsity or a 4.0 is great, but it’s not everything.

Second, stay focused. Sam, your mind is always churning with connections, creative ideas, and possible outcomes. It can be hard to stay in reality with so much happening in your brain. While driving, this means keeping your eyes on the road. In high school, this means not worrying about the “what ifs.” Instead, remember what you know to be true and then take your best, next step. Slow & steady.

Finally, be kind. Of course, keep waving at all the other cars because this is very much who you are. In high school, keep seeing the kids who are struggling. You’re so good at understanding people. Know how powerful your friendliness is. Never stop talking to everyone about everything. Your passion for life is a gift the world needs–especially those kids who feel invisible.

Mostly, keep being you, Sam. I’m so lucky to have a front seat view of your life.

I love you (and, please, drive very safely).


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