Dear Younger Me
I’m feeling nostalgic today.
A few weeks ago, I started running and working out consistently again after nearly two and a half years of only sporadic exercise. This morning, as I searched for workout clothes, I discovered that all of my usual go to athletic items are in the dirty clothes pile. But not working out, because I don’t have any clean workout clothes is not an option right now (it’s an excuse that I have used too frequently of late and I am DONE with excuses!) So I dug down deep into my dresser drawers and found a pair of sweatpants from my high school days—complete with “TVHS Bulldogs” printed on the leg. It seemed necessary to put on my “Seniors of ’93” t-shirt to wear with the pants.
It made me laugh! Twenty-five years later and so much of me is just an older, more experienced and heavier version of my eighteen year old self. I put my hair up in a pony tail and felt like the teenager I was all those years ago.
I’m not sure how she was able to take me seriously dressed as I was, but my fifteen year old daughter started a conversation about what she wants to do with her future. Dressed as my younger self and giving college and career advice was a weird combination, but it forced me to be introspective and contemplative. What would I tell my younger self if I had the opportunity to step back in time? Here’s what I think I would say…
Dear Younger Me,
It amazes me that you already know what you want to do with your life, but please don’t be embarrassed that it doesn’t feel well defined. You were not meant to be a teacher or a nurse and that is perfectly fine. You will be most fulfilled when you are seeking to be faithful to what God calls you to do. Don’t ever try to live up to expectations that people set for you if they are contrary to what you know God is leading you to do. But do listen to the advice of others who are seeking God’s glory. You don’t have to worry about not knowing the difference. You’ll just know.
You have had some people tell you that it’s not a good idea to take a gap year. They’re wrong! I’m so glad you know it. Taking a year off between high school and college will be one of the best decisions you will make.
You’ll be tempted to go to a different college because of young love. Don’t give in to that. Always, always, always seek to follow where God leads you and don’t follow a boy until you marry him (then definitely go wherever he goes!).
I know there are times when you read scripture and it doesn’t seem to be relevant. It will be easy to not be consistent in spending time in God’s Word. Do it anyway. The time that you spend poring over scripture and memorizing verses will be a blessing for the rest of your life. You will be amazed at how God will use that time you spend now at the most unexpected times later. There will come a day when you will truly understand the importance of saturating your life with truth, so keep reading and keep pursuing Jesus.
You don’t have to have all of the answers now. In fact, you shouldn’t. There are some things that can only be learned by going through different situations and experiences. Keep spending time with older and wiser women. Don’t ever stop learning from others, because you will never get to the place when you don’t have any more to learn. This is part of what makes life so exciting and abundant!
You think that you understand grace and humility. You don’t. You have so much to learn, but that’s okay. It’s going to be a lifelong journey of learning to depend completely on Christ. And it will only be through your recognition of the depths of your sin and failures that you will be able to see that grace IS amazing and humility is the only way anyone is able to stand. I’m excited for you to learn these lessons. There is a richness and joy that you have yet to experience.
You have already memorized Galatians 1:10 and you will want to only seek God’s approval, but you will continue to struggle with people-pleasing-probably for the rest of your life! The harder you try to win the approval of others, the more some will dislike you. This will be painful and gut-wrenching, but nothing else will make you cling more to Jesus than these relationship struggles. For this, you will be grateful. It will be a hard road, but you will learn that it is more important to please God than it is to win the approval of the masses (or that one person you just can’t seem to please!).
You will be surprised at where your passions lead you. Those seeds that have already been planted deep in your heart—your love for other cultures, for people, for children, for writing, for travel—God will take all of it and use it for His glory. And you will get to sit back and watch amazed at what He is able to accomplish through you. So allow Him to do what only He can do. Don’t worry about rushing it. His timing is always perfect. He is always faithful, so you never have to doubt!
The best advice I can give you is to love God with all of your heart and then love others out of the overflow of your love for God. Don’t get that mixed up. Your love for others can only be true and pure when you love God first.
You have your whole life ahead of you! It’s a good one. Enjoy the journey!
Your Older Self