Yesterday I celebrated my 35th birthday, and in honor of occasion I decided to write a letter to the ten-years-ago me, telling myself things I wish I’d known back then.
Dear 25-year-old me,
I have a few things I want to tell you. I know you think I don’t understand, but I do. I’ve been where you are. And I remember.
Thing #1: You know that script you have for your life—that one where you offer God your suggestions about just what will happen in your life, and when? How you’ll meet Prince Charming by the end of the year, get married, move into the white-picket-fenced house, and start a family somewhere around 28? Well, can I tell you something, as gently as I can? Maybe you should crumple up that script and throw it away. As your friends get married one by one (four this year, as I recall), it’s going to be hard. God isn’t going to comply with your script. But you know what? That’s actually a good thing. He has something in mind for you that is way better than anything you could have dreamed up. But if you’re going to embrace the story he has for you, you’re going to have to trust him. And you’re going to have to get your butt out of the director’s chair.
Thing #2: For most of your life you have been swayed by (dare I say obsessed with?) numbers—whether it’s your GPA, the number on the bathroom scale, the balance in your checking account, the age you imagined you’d be when you reached various milestones. You may not be able to hear this now, but believe me when I say that numbers aren’t as important as you think they are. Yes, you should keep giving your best effort, but do so knowing that numbers can never define you. God doesn’t quantify your worth by any set of integers—good or bad. And when it comes to those daunting odds that send tremors of panic through your soul, let me remind you that God has a pretty good track record when it comes to defying statistics.
Thing #3: I know you sometimes feel like there’s something wrong with you, like you’re somehow not good enough, not worthy enough, not lovable enough, and maybe you need to change who you are so you’ll find the love and acceptance you’re longing for. Don’t buy it. God made you the way you are, quirky parts and all. Someday a man will see you for who you are and love you that way. Not just in spite of your quirks, but because of them.
Thing #4: You’ve always been a seasonal girl, captivated by the crunch of leaves underfoot in the fall, the first snowflake on the tip of your tongue, the whiff of a fresh spring rain, the lazy warmth of a summer evening. What you need to know is that this time you’re going through, it’s a season too. I know you feel like you’re stuck on a treadmill while everyone around you is moving forward, but God is at work, even when it seems like he’s stubbornly silent. The parts of this season that seem endless, threatening to trudge on without end—they will cease. And believe it or not, there are parts of this season you’ll miss one day. So take the time to savor this season while it’s here instead of wishing it away.
Your 35-year-old self
P.S. A few final tips:
Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Don’t be afraid of tears.
And by all means, buy the red couch.
As I write these things to my former self, I wonder what my 45-year-old self would say to me from a decade down the road—what I should stop worrying about, what I should embrace, what’s worth crying about, what deserves a good laugh.
I suppose there’s only one way to find out. So I’m going to jump into this year with both feet and try to become the person God meant me to be. One day at a time.