The road to age 21 is a two-way street. You come and go. Even as the absences grow longer – there is always a coming back – your stuff parked haphazardly in your room; your things thrown in your closet; your head hitting your pillow.
The road away from age 21 turns one-way. After this milestone you’re headed toward a horizon of your own choosing. Never again will we be speaking of the same place when we say “home.” You may come to my home for a visit…but we’ll both be aware that you are on a timetable to get back to your home. So as you drive off one last time.
I find myself wanting to run after your car. Have I given you everything you need to live and love and succeed and dream and be happy? I feel a need to check to make sure you’ve packed everything for the journey. I think I’ve prepared you – but did anything slip out of your bag? Can we find room for one more thing in that trunk? Just a little space to squeeze in a few more words and warnings and advice and lessons?
Before you hit Highway 21…
Have I taught you to love God, to ask Him for directions? Have I shown by example imperfection and redemption? Have I modeled that you can’t run so far that you can’t come back? I learned that from Him – and I pass it on to you. Did I help you write a clear Constitution – the map of your soul by which you navigate decisions; by which you live and breathe and refuse to violate no matter the persuasion? Put it in the glove compartment – you’ll need it over and over again.
Always pay more than your toll. Be a giver. You’ll always win even when you lose. Don’t ever loan money. Give it away – then you’re never looking for a payback. Until you own the company – be the best employee. Money will be the least of your rewards – the satisfaction is in making someone else’s life better because of your efforts. Education is important, but the ability to get along, serve, and solve someone else’s problems will always result in a paycheck. (You’re good at this, by the way. And I’m so proud of you for it.)
Choose your traveling companions carefully. Don’t ride with people who criticize your driving at the expense of the scenery. Be a good friend. The best gift you can give to someone is to listen to them. You don’t need lots of friends. You only need a few good ones. Jesus had twelve He hung with, He had three He to whom He told His secrets, and One He allowed to speak into His life. That’s a good formula.
On you lifelong travel partner: Choose a man who knows you didn’t hang the moon – because he hung it for you. If you have to talk him into marrying you he’s not the one. If he values beauty over brains you’re smarter than he is. If you have to work to make him love you – he doesn’t love you. Confidence is very attractive.
Don’t pretend you’re stupid – it attracts stupid men. Sex is the final gift you give a man who has earned it by loving you and committing himself to you, not the first concession in hopes that he will. Give yourself away cheaply and you’ve set your value. Choose to love yourself even if it means being alone.
If people say your standards are too high, raise them. If they tell you your dreams are foolish, be foolish. Let their doubt fuel your determination. If they tell you your goals are impossible – prove them wrong and be gracious at the victory party. Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong – it gives permission for others to do the same. True humility opens the door for others to promote you.
Finally, one day you will know what every mother knows: that there haven’t yet been created words nor a poet profound enough to put in prose the love for our children. So let me simply say to my sweet Lindsay Leigh – you are my life and my joy, you are the soaring of my spirit and the ache of my heart. You are funny and wise, tender and tough. You can rule the world – but you’re smart enough to let someone else shoulder the burden. I love you my sweet girl, who today becomes a woman. And – while Highway 21 runs one way – I give you permission to drive the wrong way home at anytime.