If I teach you nothing else in this lifetime, let my legacy be that I taught you compassion.
As you grow up you will form your opinions. I hope they will be based on education and informed decision and not what you “think you should believe.” I do hope they’ll also come from all of the wonderful influences in your life. Specifically your Aunt with her life in ministry and her experiences in South Africa and your father, who spent a lot of time in prison ministry learning that there is a person behind every story.
What you do with these opinions can shape your life and the lives of others. Know this.
Words matter. They can comfort and they can hurt.
They can guide and they can alienate.
They should be chosen carefully and shared articulately.
Know this… you can have different opinions than people. They can be different from mine, your father’s, your sister and eventually your spouse.
You can discuss your opinions, even differing ones, with empathy. Learn to lead by example. Learn that shaming is not okay.
Choose to be the bigger person. Choose to connect with people, learn their stories and share with them.
Educate yourself first. And then educate them.
But do so kindly, without disdain or judgement. Because once you cross the line of educating and leading by example into judging and name calling you are no longer conveying a message. You are hurting a person. A person with feelings and circumstances.
So please, lead a life of compassion and you can never go wrong.