Dear younger self,
I have some things to tell you, not because I’ve really learned that much in the past 8 years, not because I’m sooooo wise now, but because some friends asked me to. And I love them so, okay okay, I’ll do it.
- Remember when your cat Gretel died in 3rd grade and you told mom that you wish you had never had a cat so that you didn’t have to be so sad? Mom said: “Then you would have never had the chance to love her and hold her and have all the happy times with her.” Don’t forget that when you move from place to place. It ought to hurt when you leave people. It should hurt because you took the time to invest your life in theirs. It should hurt because they came in and out of your home. You long for “stability” and physical stability is a good thing. But often stability at its core is simply about loving people: Being a family, living in a way that makes you present and available to people, and aching for friends who are far away.
- People don’t talk enough about how important self-awareness is. Learn how you react in family relationships and friendships. Understand your natural weaknesses in managing conflict. Recognize the ways you tend to hurt people. Ask for forgiveness quickly. Go to therapy! (Seriously, go to therapy.) It will change the kind of woman, friend, aunt, sister, wife, mom, grandma you will become. Did I say everyone should go to therapy? I meant it.
- Learn what you’re uniquely gifted to do. Know what you’re talented in, know how God has equipped you to serve, understand what you’re passionate about. Then do something with those things. The world is broken and you have the hope that so many are craving. Don’t waste your twenties (when you have the most time and energy you’ll ever have) focused on yourself. Always ask yourself what legacy you’re leaving.
- Have grace on yourself for not leaving the legacy you wanted to leave. Do what you can do in the season you’re in. Have goals but don’t forget that you have a whole life to live those goals out. Stop calling yourself a failure. Learn that you are not a horse and Jesus is not a carriage driver with a whip. (Thank you, Debby Bellingham.) Believe that Jesus loves you and values your rest.
- Forgiveness always feels almost impossible. That’s why we have Jesus. He’s almost impossible too but you still believe in him. To quote my friend Debby’s book, The Mentored Life, remember that you and the one who has hurt you both stand side by side at the foot of the cross, “under the mercy of God, in the liberty of forgiveness.” Bitterness binds you up and makes your jaw clench and your eye twitch. Forgiveness makes you free.
- If you ever get married, remember that your husband is not bound to the same guilt-inducers you are. Just because you feel bad about yourself when you take a nap, don’t begrudge him his naps. (For example.)
- Always hang out with people who are younger than you so you don’t forget who you used to be and so you don’t forget the vows you made to yourself, to God, to the people you love. (And so you don’t forget how to dress cute.)
- Just because you didn’t learn any world history in high school (seriously, why didn’t I take that class? Who let me graduate?) doesn’t mean you can’t learn it now. Read! Learn stuff!
- This is miraculous: If you use the gifts God has given you and someone praises you for it, you don’t have to imagine yourself Ms. Awesomeface or Ms. Worthless. You can actually recognize that God has made you into something good and you can love him more for it.
- A thankful life is the best kind of life.
I love you, Yoobsies…