Dear Teen Me,
Another Treasure Valley Youth Symphony concert came and went, and he didn’t show up again. I know you looked for him. From backstage, you peeked through the opening in the thick black velvet curtains to see if he sat in the audience. Then as you walked onto the stage, you scanned the shadowed faces of the people in the crowd. He wasn’t there. But you still hoped he’d arrive in time for your big solo. He didn’t. He missed it. His recurring absences have stung like personal rejections. Although you earned the coveted first chair of your section, you decided you weren’t good enough or deserving enough for your own dad to attend the concert and see you perform. Worse yet, this will not be the last time he fails to show up. You think no one else understands the loneliness in your heart. But I do. I get it. Because I know what happens. I know how things turn out in the end.
He’ll make more promises, and he’ll break those, too. You’ll come to believe that people usually break their word. You’ll doubt your husband. You’ll teach your kids to not rely on other people. But at the same time, you’ll do everything in your power to always keep your own promises … especially to your husband and to your children.
But the thing is … people make mistakes … and people die.
Dad. Dies. Too young. And you’ll be sad that he never sees your two sons ride their bicycles; he never sees your daughter born into this world.
So forgive him sooner.
People break promises all the time. Forgive them all … sooner.
And what can you do right now? Love Dad more. And tell him. Say the words, “Dad, I love you.” Do it. Sooner. Reach out and give him the first hug. Reach out and grab his hand. Don’t waste time or emotions waiting for him to make the first move. You do it. Sooner.
Spend more time with him. Call him. Ask him to go to lunch, go for a walk, or go to a BSU football game. Sooner.
Because you’ll miss him later. Especially on Father’s Day and his birthday and every BSU football game day.
Once you’ve gotten good at loving Dad more, then carry that compassionate attitude beyond him. Treat everyone with kindness, even lousy waiters, because you never know what battle they’re fighting. Maybe their dad just died. Maybe they’re dying. Behaving with benevolence will bring better results than behaving with hostility.
I know you have a lot to be angry about, but let it go. Those feelings of loneliness and rejection will heal more easily if you’ll forgive sooner. Love more. Hold on to the happy moments. Then later in life, you’ll be able to draw upon all those emotions, to help others and to write stories and to become a better person and to raise healthy children and to enjoy a vibrant marriage. But only if you’ll forgive sooner.
Choose joy … and I’ll see you in 30 years.