Apr 062013
 

 

I watched the news this morning. Got caught up on the basketball controversy, saw a clip from a documentary about school bullying, and heard some updates about global conflict. 

I think we’re all worried. We’re trying to figure out how to take better care of each other. That’s good. I really think that’s good. I feel a tide turning.

That tide is made up of a million women rising. Rising from their couches and rising above the rhetoric and saying this: I can’t fix it all, but I can do my part. And my part is this:

I’m going to be Kind and Brave. 

Because when the world becomes violent, we must be peaceful. When the world seems bad, we must be good. When the world seems brutal, we must be beautiful.

That is all and that is everything.

Here’s a little reminder from My Adam – who taught me what matters long, long ago.

Carry On, Love Warriors.

 G

 

 

originally published on august 28, 2011

 

Dear Chase,

When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.

Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.

And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.

I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he’d still remember me.

 

I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.

So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.

Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.

Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.

Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.

Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’s team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, baby. We will make a plan to help together.

 

When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Adam could have used a friend and I could have, too.

Chase – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.

We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.

We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.

Kind people are brave people. Brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.

Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.

Don’t try to be the best, honey.

Just be  kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.

Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap.

I love you so much that my heart might explode.

Enjoy and cherish your gifts.

And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.

 

Love,

Mama



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  53 Responses to “Just Be Kind and Brave.”

  1. This is just a big thank you for your inspirational letter that I adapted for my daughter and shared at the school where I teach. It touched my wife and I deeply as well as our broader school community at a time when kindness and bravery are so desperately needed.

  2. Tonight when I heard my 14 year olds voice change to a lower octave and tell his Dad that something at school made him really sad today, my neck stiffened like it always does – like I have to brace myself for the next sentence. Even though I was braced, I was still shocked. Shocked by my son’s kindness and gentleness and shocked that a young girl that roams the same halls as his own school must live such a desperate, lonely life. Our 8th Graders went to the high school campus today to get a glimpse of what High School is all about. During this visit, they did an activity with a ball of yarn. When it was handed to you, you had to think of a compliment for the next person you were handing it to. My son handed it to a girl who he said he noticed from classes, but didn’t really know. What made him so sad, was that all up and down her arms she had been “cut.” This profoundly affected him as he discussed it over and over tonight and even asked us why her parents didn’t notice. That’s the bomb I was hoping might not drop. Then, I remembered this post from G and I told my son I was incredibly touched by his kindness to this girl who obviously is showing signs of hurt that we may never experience, but to really be brave, he has to find it in himself to approach her and talk to her. He did mention he sat next to her at the assembly, but again, I told him he had to reach her and at least tell her she can talk with him if she would like. Being that my son is probably one of the many that all the girls want to talk to, I’m sure she would swell with pride anyway. I just want to say thanks G. You helped me see this and give some gentle advice to my son. He was on the right path – he was affected, but now he needs to be brave and take action. Thank you, Mom with a big, full heart!

  3. I just read this to my son. He said “That story almost made me cry.” I said “That means you have compassion.”
    Then he asked “How many freckles do you have?” I was confused at first. But then I realized. It was because he was REALLY looking at me. Maybe for the first time.

  4. Hi ummm…this is totally off the subject of this post but I need help! See, awhile ago I read a post on your blog that saved my life and also my littlies life because I was in a dark hole and I was scratching my way up and then I read this thing you wrote and it made sense. And i cried and pulled my little ol’ self up and out of that hole and finished the day off proud to be me. I wrote that thing down you wrote and carried it around. I would peek at it when I needed to remind myself of who I was and what I was doing. Then my best friend found herself in a dark hole. I tore that thing you wrote out of my notebook and sent it to her and she was able to get out of her hole that day too. The thing is, some days are hole days and you need a little pick me up and i thank you for that pick me up. Now i want to find that thing you wrote but it seems you have been writing for awhile now and I have what people call a touch of the dementia and I can’t find that thing you wrote!!!! Maybe you will know where i can find it, it was a conversation you had with god, where he tells you that he knows that those things you weren’t that good at were hard for you but it wasn’t those things that God cared about. He loved that you gave that woman the shopping cart at the store and stayed up all night with your sick child………and he loves you. Any of that ringing a bell? Sorry, now you know why i need it written down old school style in my hand so i can read it over and over cause my memory ain’t worth a dang. I know you are super busy so no worries. But seriously, I need it so umm yeah let me know.

  5. If you haven’t yet, check out the YA novel, Wonder. It is such a beautiful story about the power of kindness and how kids learn about kindness. My son and I both loved it.

  6. Today my daughter’s school is dedicating a “friendship chair” to her memory. I may say a few words and if I do an excerpt from this will be among them – hope you don’t mind me borrowing your wisdom.

  7. The timing of this could not have been more perfect for me. Last night my oldest son, Elijah, told me about a new boy in his 1st grade class who hardly speaks any English. He said the other kids in the class pepper this boy with questions because they know the only thing he knows to say in response is ‘no’. So they ask him ridiculous questions and laugh at the answer of ‘no’ every time. I got tears in my eyes when Elijah told me this. My heart hurts so much for this poor little boy who must feel so humiliated that these kids are speaking to him too quickly in a language he doesn’t understand and laughing at him. I asked Elijah if he ever joins in with the other kids, and he said he doesn’t. I asked him if he ever tells them to stop and he said he does, but they don’t listen to him. He said his teacher tells them to stop, but they do it when she’s not around. I went to sleep last night feeling like I missed an opportunity. I felt like I should’ve said more to him, but I didn’t know what to say. Now that I’ve found this, I think I’ll print it out and read it to him. Thank you for your beautiful words of love and wisdom. This is what my heart wanted to say, but my brain couldn’t verbalize. I hope when I share your words – that have now become our words – with my Elijah he will be inspired to be brave and reach out to this little boy in his class who needs a friend.

  8. I haven’t wept in forever. I wept reading this. You said exactly what my goals are for my children only so much lovelier then I ever could. Then I wept again when I read it aloud to my children. I’m glad it touched me so much because I want my kids to remember how much these words are my goals both for myself and them. Thank you Thank you!

  9. I just happened upon this yesterday and made my kids read it before school this morning. It’s what my husband and I try to instill in them as well…I remember my own “Adams” from childhood…how cruel we all were, even the “nice” kids! I just want my kids to do better than me, even just one time. One small act of kindness at a time, right?? Thanks Glennon. You always say things just perfectly.

  10. One of the most insightful reflections about one of the most common barriers to being kind. Letting go of our fear. Thank you for writing this!

  11. Wow!!!! Once in awhile something comes along and catches my attention to the point of shaking me to the very core! This is one of those times! These words are so moving and beautiful! I will save this and share it with my three children someday!! Thank you for the inspiration!! I only wish I had written it!! :) Much gratitude for your words of wisdom!

  12. I am one of those women….kind and brave. Trying to do my part in this world, sharing love and kindness.Thank you for sharing your life, your joys, your pain. You are inspiring others to march on, look for the good and saying it’s ok not to know everything right at this moment. All the best to you~
    White Ribbons of Peace (on facebook)

    Carrying On~

  13. This is the letter that went viral and got me connected with you! For that, I am grateful. I loved the message then, and I love it even more now.

    Thanks for putting out the positive to the world…we need every single bit and more. I’m working to do my part!

  14. I liked this letter a lot. And it is very timely too. As a parent we need to remind our children of this. It’s so important

  15. Your letter brought tears to my eyes.

  16. You’ve tackled something important today, and I’m thrilled to have read it. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say about an issue when you’re ambushed by it. Thank you for iterating this so beautifully. It’s especially important for us to be honest — “These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.”

  17. Your so right g- not easy but we all can choose to be kind & brave- & we know we can do hard things!:)

  18. Wow. That is all I can say. Wow. Thank you for re posting. This letter could have been written by me but it would not have been as beautiful. It is a message that I try to convey to my boys whenever possible despite the fact that they have been on the receiving end of bullying many times before. I love your blog!

  19. I’m a new Monkee, and I am so happy to have found my way here. I love this (re)post, and as someone who works in a school environment, the value of kindness can never be stressed enough. Thanks for sharing this again.

  20. This moves my heart each and every time I read it. Thank you for sharing you.

    PS. Book. Amazballs!

  21. I am especially moved by this as a former teacher and mother of three littles myself. YOU are a gift to so many. Carry on, love warrior!

  22. What a sweet and moving letter. My 9 yo and I recently discussed a young boy in her class who is the outcast…wears the same clothes almost every day, talkes a little funny, etc. Her sweet little heart aches for him. What we must remember and what I told her is that this little boy is Jesus. “What you do unto the least of these, you do also unto me.” If we can get our children to think like this now, the world will be a different place in a few years.

  23. Thank-you for this, I shared this with my kiddies…
    Their response: “Mama why are you crying & who is Chase & who is Adam?”
    Awesome post!

  24. I’ve read that letter several times, and every time it impacts me…thanks for sharing!

  25. Hi Glennon,
    I didn’t know where else to post the following info so I’m just gonna put it here, I hope it finds you. My friend sent this to a local radio station. It’s about a mutual friend from elementary school:

    Hello…
    With a very heavy heart, I am reaching out to you about a past winner of a minivan that you had a few months ago, Coleen Tagnolli. If you recall she is a mother of 3, who found out she had a very rare stage 4 cancer while breast feeding her newborn. Coleen is a RN at St Helena, a graduate of Healdsburg High School, and a Santa Rosa resident. The minivan has been a blessing in soooo many ways and has helped make her journey thus far a little easier since she had reliable transportation. Coleen has underwent 2 rounds of chemo since diagnosis in Feb 2012. In March 2013 it looked as if the margins were clear… Coleen, her family…. And everyone who loves Coleen… And there are sooooo many! Thought she was on the home stretch… But like so many adventures… There was a twist in the road and a very aggressive cancer was once again found in a lymph node. On Thursday her doctors informed her of a clinical trial in Houston, TX which is her best chance to beat this cancer… Coleen the warrior she is grasped on to this opportunity! And here is the next twist… She needs to come up with the 1st payment by Tuesday!!! Oh… Did I mention the payment is $21,000!!! Coleen and her husband are hard working people… Her husband has been supporting the family and proving emotional support, while helping take care of their very small child. Coleen returned back to work after her chemo treatments. At this time, her benefits have run out. Insurance will not cover because it is experimental. In 2 days her network has raised $3,000… But that is not close enough… Remember this is the 1st payment… AND… That does not include travel, lodging, food or childcare…
    This is where you come in… Is it possible to do a follow up with a past winner? Perhaps your listeners or sponsors can help out in any way… I can not think of a more deserving person, or family. In the grand scheme… This can not only change a life… But SAVE a life!!!
    There is a Team Coleen page on Facebook that is very active with updates… You can verify the legitimacy of my message… I am not in her inner circle, just one of the many people Coleen has touched for the better… Her friend Kelley and a few others, run her page and would be able to answer any and all questions.
    I am providing the link to her donation page https://www.wepay.com/donations/38717
    Thank you for taking the time to read my email. I realize this is an unusual request to ask you to reach out to your audience, and understand if you are not able to do so, but if you are… I can not think of a more amazing individual!!! Any donations are appreciated as are positive spiritual prayers for this amazing woman and family!!! http://www.facebook.com/TeamColeen?fref=ts
    Thank you so much again!
    Aqua Baron

  26. Thank you for yet another amazingly honest post! The unkindness I see in people every day nearly breaks me. When my daughter was in kindergarten and first told me kids wouldn’t play with her on the playground the brutality brought me to tears. They are 5 years old, where do they learn this?? When I was in elementary school I was very protective of a boy who suffered from extreme physical and mental disabilities. He passed when we were 12. I will never forget it, my teachers never forgot it, and my parents never forgot it. Many, many years later my mother is next-door neighbors with his parents in their retirement community. Its a constant reminder of my childhood. And a constant reminder that I hope to pass on to my daughters. Be a friend to all. Don’t be afraid of what is different. Be brave and kind.

  27. I have just finished reading your book. Thank you so, so much for writing it. I have the 3 extra copies I bought, here ready to give to the next people I meet who just… need something… you know? Even if they’re not sure what it is they need. Which is how I felt when I found your blog. So again, thank you. xx

  28. Your essay resonates so much with me, Glennon. Each morning when I drop my kids off at school I sign off with, “I love you! (Big smooch on the cheek) Be kind and brave!” I didn’t even realize it had become a ritual until the teacher opening car doors in the carpool line commented that she loves hearing it every day. My hope is that it impacts my children in the same way!

  29. Please publish this story in the form of a children’s book!!!!

  30. I shared this story in a Children’s sermon right before school started – I almost made it through without crying! It resonated with EVERYONE and I am hoping to do it annually. People loved it so much that you gained about 30 new Monkees!

  31. Thank you for reposting, had not read this before. I hope more than anything that our sons will be kind and brave. My five year old son just came in to the office while I was reading this, and I read the whole letter aloud to him. Inspired and inspiring. Hope the book tour is going well! You deserve all this and more.

  32. I love this. Thank you for sharing, I’ll be sharing this too! I’m a fairly new follower, and just sent you a snail mail letter. :)

    Maggie

  33. “These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.” – Perfectly said! I can’t imagine a better way to explain this to our children. Thank you for listening to God’s voice telling you to write this :)

  34. My favorite line “When the world seems brutal, we must be beautiful.” Thanks for reposting this one. I think of it often.

  35. Well said. I kind of believe each cell in our being has a heart, and there’s one for every soul on earth, and one heart breaks each time a soul suffers. Everyone has a purpose: Fighting for the Good. Being kind, being brave!

  36. I continue to love this post and the simple message to be kind and brave. If I can teach my daughter this, I will consider myself a successful parent.
    Speaking of my daughter (4 years old), she was watching me read the post and wanted to see your picture. We ended up watching your book video and she said, “Mommy, I really like your girl” (you, G!). I’m raising a little Monkee!

  37. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I just finished your book and I will probably pick it up and read it again and again. There are so many favorite things about your writing but the looking for God in every one – looking for the love he put inside of them – I hope that thousands and thousands of us begin to do that all together, all at once. I think if all do that all at once all together we could make the universe sigh. And you, you would have helped put that in motion.

  38. Just Beautiful! I have been having this conversation with my 10 year old son a lot these last few months. The playground can be such a difficult path to maneuver. Every day when I drop him off at school I say, “I Love You.” and my last words are “Be Kind”.

  39. I love your letter to Chase more than mere words can possibly express. As an elementary school teacher and mother of two high school man-boys, I am contemplating HARD how I might be able to use it to spread the message. Thank you from the top, middle, and bottom of my heart.

  40. I shared your letter to Chase with my 4th graders one day when we were having a discussion of bullying. It moved some of them to tears and created some amazing discussions between 9 and 10 year olds. Thank you for writing this and sharing!! We can make a difference and I need to keep telling myself this, everyday.

    • I LOVE this idea and will be doing the very same thing next week with my K-5th graders (as a gifted support teacher, I am fortunate enough to work with kids of all ages). THANK YOU!!!!

  41. No matter how many times you post this, I have to read it again and it brings me to tears. If only more of us listened to God when he fills our hearts with compassion, and acted on it, there’d be a lot less pain in the world. Love this and love you, G.

  42. Beautiful post! I recently discovered you and your tagline is echoing through my days, inspiring me to keep moving forward. I remember feeling that same compassion as a kid and not being brave enough to act on it. I hope my kids will be brave. Thank you for being brave and for encouraging me to do the same.

  43. <3 Just had a conversation with my almost 5 year old 'Middle' child about how we needed to be kinder to each other. It seems to have helped a bit.

  44. One of my fav posts from you, and Adam’s story is one I talk about with my kids often. Thanks for re-sharing this. No act of kindness is too small, and nothing goes unnoticed by everyone. I really believe that being kind to yourself is where it all begins. The bully inside is our biggest enemy that needs to be fought. I wrote a blog called “Put Good Things in There” last month about the bully inside. I’m a big believer in trying to be kind to yourself and kindness to others will follow. Thanks for spreading the message, Glennon. Carry On, Warrior Leader – hope the tour is going amazingly well !

  45. This still makes me cry every time I read it. Imagine if every parent taught this to every child……what a (much more) wonderful world this would be.

  46. If you’re able to accomplish *this* in parenting…history is changed for the better :).

    xo

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