This evening I read a letter a friend wrote to her younger self. I sent her a note about it and she responded, encouraging me to write to my younger self too. I decided that was a good idea. Not because I actually know what I’m going to say, even at this very moment. But, because I’m curious. I’m hopeful. I want to see what thoughts I have about these last fifteen years. What insights I might have to offer myself. Most certainly not because I am insightful, though. Moreso, as I sit in a dark and quiet house, surrounded by boxes reminding me that in two days I will make my thirteenth move in only five years, I want to see if I can discover something that will show me it’s all been worth it. The struggle, the challenge, the tears, the miles on my soul. I guess I’m exploring the landscape of my recent past. Looking for answers I don’t even yet know are there.
When I think of you, it brings a smile to my face. And I haven’t smiled about myself in a long time. Oh my dear, you are brave. You are adventurous. You are loving. You are beautiful.
I think of you setting off, across the world, only months after graduating high school. Those year will be some of your best.
You will learn an independence that will serve you for a lifetime.
But please, remember that you don’t always have to do it alone. It’s ok to let others in and ask for help.
You will have a taste for adventure that will not really ever be tamed.
But, please, remember that it’s ok if life is quiet sometimes. Always looking to the next thing will leave you tired and unfulfilled.
You will learn to never settle with something being impossible. You will use this to exhaust all resources and be a great problem solver.
But, please, remember that there are times God will close a door and, because he is not a cliche, he will not open a window. Sometimes the Lord is giving you the answer but you are desperately seeking to find the way yourself. Just rest, sweet girl. Rest in the arms of your God who loves you and is taking care of you. You don’t have to try so hard to take care of yourself.
And you will learn the first lesson about friends breaking your heart. You will learn that never again in life will your friendships be as easy and as carefree as they were in your youth.
But, please, still let people in. Friendship offers a sweet kind of love. It can be fickle, but it can also be healing. It can change it’s mind, but it can also choose you. It can leave you lonely, but it can also warm your soul with it’s presence. Let friends in. Show them who you are.
And as you came home and felt confused and overwhelmed, you thought you had to have it all together. But the truth is that you’ve been falling apart all along. It feels like no one notices, or at least they don’t care. You’re afraid they’ll leave if they find out just how messed up you are. But no one has left you because of that so far.
So, please, let people in.
You will feel out of place and incredibly insecure. As an early twenty something, you will switch schools and travel and find new friendship and really be on your own. It will all feel like life is so big for such a small you.
But, please, be more patient with yourself. You don’t have to know it all right now. You don’t have to have all the answers. We all squirm and search in this season. Enjoy the search. And allow yourself to put down some roots for a little bit. In doing this, you’ll find out more about who you are and where you are going.
And then you’ll meet him. The one your heart has been waiting for. It will be fun and funny and a whirlwind. That’s pretty much how you like things to go, anyways. You’ll decide in just three months that this is the man you want to marry. And you will.
So remember that you chose him and he chose you. Not because it will be easy and always fun…though, so far, its always been a whirlwind. Remember you chose each other because you felt God in the midst of it. You grew and you changed and learned how to love more deeply than you ever had before. Lean into that love and let it heal your heart. He won’t know how to do it perfectly, but he loves you. And when you look over at him, it’ll feel like you are looking at a part of yourself.
Then a few short years later you’ll meet the little girl you’ve dreamt of for some time. And OH. MY. WORD. That little girl will be one of the most perfect things you are ever a part of. She will bring a joy to your life that has never existed before and by the time her sister and brother come along, you’ll be a different person. One who has learned so serve and love and rock and kiss little cheeks.
But remember, don’t get lost in it. You are a mamma now. But you are still you. You don’t have to fade into the background and lose yourself. Let yourself continue to have hopes and dreams and longings. And go out and make them happen.
Well, here I am. All caught up on life and looking back over it. I think the messages to my younger self are still ones I need to hear. Ones I need to lean into and let them wash over my soul in order to bring restoration:
Know others and let them know you, despite the heartbreaks.
You don’t have to have all the answers. It’s ok to wonder and question and flail. It’s in the journey that we find fellow sojourners and the hope our soul needs.
Love isn’t easy but it is a choice. And it’s worth it. It heals. It restores. It gives hope and joy. And it will indeed carry you when your own legs don’t have the strength to take a step.
Don’t get so lost in the season of motherhood that you can’t remember who you are. You are brave. You are adventurous. You are loving. You are beautiful.
You’re learning, sweet girl. About love and life. About God and people. You’ve come a long way and you’ve got a ways to go. Enjoy it. Laugh in it. Love in it. Smile. You got this.