It’s the first day of school and I’m up before the sun, hours before any alarms go off, excited about your year ahead and praying for your year ahead.

Each year of school brings so many new milestones, from new kinds of math to discoveries about yourself to lessons about people and relationships. As your understanding grows, the world gets bigger and bigger – the number of people and things you impact gets bigger and the number of people and things that impact you gets bigger.

And so I pray for your growth, in height because I know that’s important to you and in knowledge, faith and spirit because that’s what’s most important to me.

I pray for your protection, from all forces and people that would harm you physically, mentally or spiritually. And I pray for your discernment to recognize those bad forces that you’ll undoubtedly encounter, and that you will steer clear of them.

I pray you’ll be intentional about your choices. That you won’t expect opportunities and jobs and friendships and relationships to just happen to you. Sometimes the things in your life that seem easy or seem to just fall in your lap are not right for you, and if you’re living intentionally you’ll see that they are distractions from your best choice and your best life.

I pray that you’ll be intentional about your thought patterns and your peace. That you make choices to discard negative thoughts about yourself and others, that you seek friendships that add to your peace and positivity and joy and happiness, that you set boundaries to enable peace to thrive in your life, and that you actively hold on to your peace.

I pray that you will not forget who you are and Whose you are. And that when you make choices that aren’t the best, that you never forget that you are always loved and forgiven.

I pray you will be kind, to others and to yourself. Everyone you encounter each day struggles in some way, and I pray you will have empathy and patience and that you will see what God wants you to see in each person and in yourself.

I pray that you will see you as God sees you.

I pray that in the big scheme of things you will put greater focus on how things look on the inside of you than how your hair and makeup and outfit make the outside of you appear.

I pray you will have fun. That you will enjoy your life, that you won’t take embarrassing things that happen too seriously, that you will find the funny in all things, and that you will make the fun when you or others are struggling to smile.

I pray that you will love learning, and not just the stuff you’re going to read in books or online resources. I pray for your passion – that as your knowledge of subjects grows you’ll want to know more and more, that as your knowledge of the world grows you’ll want to go out into it more and more, and that as your knowledge of injustice grows you’ll want to act more and more.

I pray you will surround yourselves with friends of all different kinds and perspectives. Kids who will introduce you to different kinds of thinking and music and art and play and faith. And I pray you will see the value in every single difference and person.

I pray that you will not give up. You will sometimes want to, after a long hour or day or week, or when you’re halfway through a project and realize you need to start over. At those moments you’ll feel frustrated and you’ll cry, and maybe you’ll scream inside or have an actual shouty tantrum. It’s OK to embrace all those feelings and even to get sucked into them for a little while, but then I pray you’ll shake it off and get back to the task at hand or to simply living.

I pray that wherever you are, you will always know that you can call me or text me to help you or to help your friends or to help your enemies. I pray that while you may fret that something will make me mad, that that fear will be overridden by the truth that I love you and I want what’s best for you. That the fear that something will make me disappointed will be overridden by the truth that nothing you do could make me not love you and that I have been in your shoes and have made the tough call you’re dreading to my own parents.

And finally, on your first day of school I pray for me. That I will have the courage to face my fears and let you fly further. That I will give you just the right amount of space and room to grow. That I will not do too many things for you and I will allow and encourage you to do more yourself. That I will remember that most people and kids are good, and that you are not actually in danger the vast majority of the time. And that I will successfully resist the urge to smother you with kisses at the bus stop.

I also pray that I will remember this day specifically. I’ll remember that Ella Facetimed with her best friend at 5:30 am so they could “get ready together.” I’ll remember that big-girl Audrey set out lipstick and perfume along with her shoes.

And I pray I’ll remember that as I walked around the house turning off all the lights before going to work, I realized that girl bathrooms don’t change much with the generations – countertops are covered with makeup and hairspray and devices that are absolutely required for us to look just right for the day.

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