I saw a billboard on the way to work today that had this in big, bold letters. Forgive, nothing else. The word is so simple, yet it is jam packed with emotion, with love, with action. No one is perfect in this world. People will hurt you and make you angry and disappoint you, but forgiveness never gets old. You will make mistakes and there will be times when you will need someone to forgive you. Anger and hurt never breed something good. Be at peace; just forgive.
2. Never hold a grudge.
This of course goes along with the Forgiveness portion, but it bears repeating. Holding a grudge only eats away at one's soul. It serves no purpose.
3. Treat others the way you would want to be treated.
This seems so cliche of course, but there is nothing that better describes a call to action more than this. It's started now when Cole and I talk about something like, "How does it make you feel when someone yells at you?" He always replies that it doesn't make him feel good and that is how we discuss a situation when I do not like his behaviour. I will always have these discussions with him even when he is 20, but of course in a more grown up fashion.
4. If someone believes something different than you, have a conversation and respect them.
I cannot be angry at someone just because they believe differently than me. It's not for me to judge what they believe. I have strong beliefs, founded in Christianity, and those are my beliefs. If someone else has something else to believe, I can explain why I believe what I do, but for me to judge or otherwise is not my place. I want Cole and Charlotte to respect others as well. Likewise I want them to be strong and confident in their beliefs.
5. Say I Love You often.
This is something that Brendan taught me from day one. It sounds cheesy (remember, I love that kind of stuff!), but whether you are saying good-night, good-bye, or going to the next room, why not tell people that you love them? I say this a million times to Cole and Charlotte (and Brendan) and I want them growing up thinking the same way...even if they go through teenager years of thinking it is uncool! : )
6. To that point, I want them to love their family....all of them.
By marriage or by blood, your family is your family. Love them, cherish them, respect them, and tell them that you do!!
7. Smile and smile often.
I used to be painfully shy. I'm better now but still am overwhelmed by crowds, new people, and different situations. Smiling is key in all of this. It makes you happy and it shows to people that otherwise might not know you are shy and may think you are snobby!
8. Be kind, emphatic, and compassionate even when others are not.
Don't engage in verbal "war of words". Say kind things to people even when they are not kind to you. Listen to what people are saying and don't just start thinking of what you are going to say next.
I could go on and on. I've made so many mistakes that I have really learned a great deal in my short time as an adult. I hope Cole and Charlotte learn these things and most importantly I hope they learn these things because they see me (and Brendan) being examples. That is the greatest piece of it all.