Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

One Big Happy Family [Open Letter First Place]

Editor’s Note: This post is written by Heather Roberts , who won first place in the Open Letter Challenge writing contest. The following letter is a response to An Open Letter to You from the Rest of the World. You can connect with Heather on her blog where you can also read her original post .

Photo Credit Heather Roberts

Photo Credit Heather Roberts

Dear World-

Remember that time that I promised that I’d be one of The Ones?  You know, The Ones that would make a difference?  The Ones that leave a mark?  The Ones that make you, The World, better?  You know me: the best of intentions, but the shortest of attentions.

But my family has changed.  I have three kids now.  Each one beautiful and quirky in his and her own ways.  They have dreams that need to be fostered.  They have talents that need to be cultivated.  They have spirits that need direction.

Times have changed.  We no longer live in a world where being a good citizen, showing respect, and loving God is enough.  You World, need more intentionality than that.  Being a passively good person won’t cut it anymore.  You require more of me than you used to.

I have changed.  No longer is the young woman who could plead youth and ignorance.  She has been replaced by a woman with experience IN you, World, and, ashamedly, OF you.  I have seen poverty while living in India that made it hard to breathe.  A burden of mourning and sadness fill the streets of Sarajevo.  Two cities with two vastly different histories, people, cultures, and yet both have left scars on my heart that can no longer be hidden.  And those are just two of your cities, World.  Two.  My conclusion:  I know better, so I must be better.

Photo Credit Heather Roberts

Photo Credit Heather Roberts

I hear you calling me, World.  I can no longer sit idly by as you plead for me, and others just like me; those of us with first world problems will no longer use our voices for complaints, but rather action.  Am I likely to be an ambassador for human rights that is interviewed by the likes of Anderson Cooper?  Probably not.  Will a building be named after me for bringing awareness to a cause that changed the world?  I doubt it.  So what can I do, World?

On the surface, I don’t have much to offer.  I’m not rich.  My skills and talents might bring me joy, but aren’t worth a lot on paper.  My greatest achievements are peacefully sleeping upstairs as I write this letter to you.  But they are just babies.  New to you.  They are just blank slates, without prejudice, bias, or experiences.  They are blank slates.  Blank.  Slates.

Photo Credit Heather Roberts

Photo Credit Heather Roberts

I offer to you my children.  I resolve to raise children who are not so busy living IN you that they forget that they are part OF you.  I won’t toughen them up so they can withstand the storms of life.  I will teach them, no show them, that they can have spirits that calm storms.  I will make it my life’s mission to show them that they ARE ambassadors of goodwill, not only worthy of being interviewed by Anderson Cooper, but worthy of being called sons and daughters of a loving, living God.  I will give them life altering experiences and force them out of their comfort zones.  Show them simultaneously the utter despair of abject poverty and the brilliance of selfless love.  I will allow them to struggle so they value effort.  I will love them unconditionally, so they will always know the feeling and can mirror it to others.  I won’t allow them the excuse of not knowing better.

They are yours.  But know this, World.  I am not me without them.  So if you want them, you’ve got me too.  And I’m not me, without my God.  That’s right, you get Him too.  One big, happy family.  See you at the reunion.


[box]Thanks to everyone who participated in the Open Letter Challenge. I hope the process was as beneficial for you as it was for me. You can read all of the Open Letter entries here.[/box]


Open Letter Cover 2

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  • Heather,

    Thank you so much for sharing this letter and sharing your heart.

    This: ” I offer to you my children. I resolve to raise children who are not so busy living IN you that they forget that they are part OF you. ” I read it several times, the first few as your words, but repeating them over again as they became my promise, too!


  • Excellent choice for first place.

    I think many parents underestimate the impact and value of their “job” . It doesn’t help when so many people put the words “just a” in front of “stay-at-home-mom”. Making a difference in the world definitely starts at a home — it’s probably the most important place of nurturing and learning that will impact the rest of a person’s life and actions.

    Beautiful post and great message.

    • Josh

      As a father of four, I agree. My wife is a hero.