NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A TEENAGER!

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house that evening.

During Leave Nothing Unsaid letter-writing workshops, I ask if any participants are willing to share excerpts of what they have written during different segments of the letter writing process. A few brave souls are always willing to share, and their words inevitably inspire everyone in the room.

Recently, I was honored to lead several workshops at The Woodlands Methodist Church in Houston, TX. Both workshops had about 50 participants, and the audience was primarily middle-aged.

As we finished one section of writing, I asked if someone was willing to share what they had written. One courageous young woman quickly said: ‘I’ll share!” As her words resonated throughout the room, a hushed sense of awe came over the group. I had tears in my eyes and am sure if I could have seen through my own tears, I would have seen tears on every other face, too. (There’s a reason I ask my hosts to place a box of tissues on every table!)

The writer of this letter was a beautiful seventeen year old high school junior named Sophie Salinger. She explained that she was attending the workshop in her mother’s place because of a medical emergency with Sophie’s younger brother. 

No one would wish a teenager a broken arm. But, oh, am I thankful for Sophie’s presence and impact that night.

Sophie’s incredible letter was written to her mom, Susan, and her affirming words communicated sentiments that every mother would love to hear.

Here are a few excerpts:

“Being your daughter is a miracle from God. I love you more than words can write, more than the amount of hugs I give you, more than anything the world offers. I love you so deeply.”

“Your kindness for others, always being so welcoming and not letting anyone be a stranger, being so joyful and forgiving, loving others even in circumstances when they hurt you. You are always quick to listen and love. I love your welcoming and compassionate character.”

“People love you so much because you’re so genuine. You care about them and are there for them in their pain and in their moments of celebration.”

“I love how gracious you are with all my messes, whether its laundry or powdered sugar, you always seem to forgive so easy. I love your encouragement for my baking and my ministry.”

“You are a literal ray of sunshine. You bring life to things that were dead, you bring light into the darkest of rooms and show hope that even when storms take your light, that it will pass and you will shine again.”

The letter is an absolute treasure. Talk about fuel for a mother's tank!

 Later, I asked Sophie’s mom how she felt about receiving the letter, and she said (and Sophie confirmed!) that she bawled when she read it. As with any mother-daughter relationship, especially during the teenage years, they have their moments of conflict. (Find a mother-daughter who hasn’t!) Susan said that this letter was an enlightening testimony to her of how Sophie really feels about her and that she will treasure it forever.

Would’t every mother love to receive such affirmation from their child no matter what their age?

Recently, as I spoke with Sophie in preparation for writing this article. I asked for her feedback about the workshop and her reply is that it was “super awesome!” What surprised me was her answer to my next question. “Would your friends enjoy being part of a workshop like this?” Her response? “100%” In Sophie’s words: “It’s so good to thank your parents and recognize what they do for you.”

Can I get an “amen?”

This was a first. Over the last decade, I cannot recall a teenager ever participating in one of my workshops. Not once. Nor have I ever suggested it. Why, I have no clue. But I hereby repent of underestimating teenagers! After this delightful experience with Sophie,  I’ve begun to hope and pray that this message will reach a whole new generation!

If you live in The Woodlands, TX area, you’ll be pleased to know that Sophie has a baking business! Check out her Instagram @TheBakingSophie. Amazing!

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