there’s so much I would say if I could write to 12, 17, or even 20 year old me. Of course I have no way of telling the younger me the things I needed to hear, but maybe I’m not the only one who could have used the truths I know now a decade ago. And so as I turn a year older I write the truths I’ve learned. Not just to remind my own heart how far He has carried me, but to tell the world how He is faithful.
Dear younger me…
So today I turn 22 and honestly, I’m still having a hard time getting my brain around that one. Every year that I have a birthday I thank God for the gift of life, but this year I know even more deeply that my very breath is a lone from Him.
You’d have a hard time picturing me sitting in my 4 bedroom apartment, watching the flames dance in my fireplace and writing this post. I think we all know we will grow up and see the world, but when we’re kids it’s hard to imagine that it will actually ever come true.
Growing up and seeing the world never feels the way we thought it would though. In some ways it is so much better and in others, so much worse. Of all the things my few short years here have taught me though, these are some of the ones that stand out the most…
1. You are never alone.
Trust me, you will feel alone sometimes. You’ll feel like God has abandoned you and gone back on every promise He ever made. You’ll lie awake in bed dark night after dark night and wonder what all those quiet moments by the fountain with Him even meant. You’ll wonder if He ever heard and if He ever really cared. You’ll want to shout at Him with everything inside of you but somehow no words will come out. But even in those moments, He is holding you. You won’t know it at the time, but later you will see that He was working and that His plan never changed or failed. The closeness you experienced with Him as a teenager sitting on a sea wall watching the waves beneath you, or walking desert meadows everyday will feel like it has faded, but it hasn’t. Because in the valleys, He never leaves but simply draws even closer so that when the light shines again you’ll realize that He was there all along and that not one trembling step that you took was without His steadying arm around your shoulders.
2. You are not a failure.
Oh how I wish I could make you never forget this one. Yes, you may fail sometimes, but that does not define you as a person. He is what defines you. You are so much more than you ever dreamt you could be… because He has loved you during every breath you took. It’s really not about the things you can do and the battles you can win. You’ve spent so much of your time focusing on those, but in the end, it’s His arms you’ll learn to focus on. Because often, the very times you thought you were a failure were the times you won victories since you were out of your own strength and were forced to lean on His.
3. No one else’s opinion of you defines who you are.
Yeah, you’re gonna need this one. You want so much to please other people that sometimes you absorb their opinions about you and start to define yourself based on that. But you are not that. You are what He thinks of you. You are not useless just because someone didn’t consider you worth sticking with. You are not a messed up person just because someone tore you down with their words. You are priceless because He says so. You are loved because He holds you. You are everything He says you are. No matter what everyone else tells you. You may not learn to see that for awhile but as you do, you will find so much freedom and peace in accepting yourself as the person He made you to be and resting in the reality that He treasures you.
4. You were made to love other people.
This one makes me smile because every time you discover a little more of this truth it makes your heart sing a little louder. You were made to love people with every bit of your beating heart. To love when nothing is given back to you. To protect the ones who are hurting from the blows of others. To listen to endless tales from countless hearts and to wipe tears away when the story gets too hard to put into words. Every time you get scared of loving and retreat into your own little shell, a piece of you dies. But every time you step out and give yourself away, even in the face of rejection, you bloom just a little more. Because this is what you were created to do. This is what makes you happier than anything else. And this is where you will find the deepest satisfaction every day of your life. Open up that heart of yours and let the love inside make a million lives brighter.
5. Never let others usurp the spot of Captain of your ship.
You find it very hard to hurt others or stand up to their opinions but sometimes this causes you to fall short of the things God has in store for you. Remember that Jesus is the Captain of your ship and that His plans for you are always the best. Never let fear of what others will think stop you from living the life He has for you. Never give the control of your mind away to fellow human beings who fail. Be all His. Wherever you are, whatever you do, and in whoever you associate with.
6. Learn to let go and move on
You love deeply and sometimes you get stuck on one chapter of your life and can’t accept that the page is turning. Some people will come into your life and bless it for a season and then walk right back out again. It’ll hurt and you’ll have to heal, but when you’re willing to let go and move on, you will be ok. Nothing in this life is assured to last forever but Jesus. You’ll come back to this truth over and over again. Cling to it, because there will be times where it is all you have.
7. Pain can either make you selfless and caring or selfish and bitter.
You’ll see this lived out and as much as you want to be selfless, there will be times where pain stings you so deep that you’re tempted to go to the other extreme. Never give into that temptation. Sure, it’s easier to turn against the world when it seems like it has turned on you but you will never be happy there. Let the pain purge the deepest parts of your heart instead of locking them away. Use the dark nights as fuel to pour yourself into other hearts that are fighting similar battles. Don’t let the darkness hold you down, but let Jesus pull you back up every time and make you more beautiful and more powerful a tool in the business of loving other people. If you do this, nothing can stop you. Even the biggest obstacle the devil can hurl at you will only speed you forward.
8. Remember to step back and treasure the little moments.
You get so invested in making a difference and changing the world that sometimes all you can see is the things you have to do. Life is about so much more than just that. Savor the little moments to take a walk in nature and look at the flowers. Drink a cup of hot chocolate in front of your fireplace and pull out your Bible even in the middle of your crazy days. Count all the ways God is making your life beautiful when you are overwhelmed by all the things you need to do. Never think you’re too busy to praise Him and appreciate every blessing He puts in your path.
9. Don’t let the world distract you.
Today’s society is full of so much glitz and glamor and entertainment and it’s easy to spend your free time in front of a screen. Never let that take the place of your time with Jesus. Remember the moments you’ve spent with Him over the years, pouring out your heart and listening to His. Remember the pricelessness of telling Him every little thing and the way it bound your heart to His. As you look back, you will see that those were the best moments in your life. The times you were still and let His arms hold you without putting up a million walls were the moments He changed you. Don’t let the world distract you from that. Don’t let all the excitement around you turn your heart from what and Who you want most.
10. Never stop loving Jesus best.
Even in the times you think He has hurt you. This Jesus has never ever let you down. You are His treasure. Always have been, always will be. He is always there to whisper His heart to you and to remind you how deeply He wants you to be His friend. You’ll loose sight of Him sometimes and life will come in between you and your best Friend but never let that be permanent. Always go back to Him. Always pick up where you left off. Jesus is what has made every day of your life worth living so far, and He will be that till the very end. If there’s only one thing I can say, it’s this… never stop loving Him, because He loved you first and so much more than you can know.
Here’s to a new year. You’ll grow. You’ll hurt. You’ll question. You’ll smile. You’ll succeed. And you will love. But most of all, every breath you take— live like you’re His.
Because you are. Completely.