If I Could Write a Letter to My Twenty Year Old Self, Here’s What I’d Say.
June 9, 2014
Ten years ago, I walked the halls of Merritt Island High as my daughter took swim lessons in the pool out back. When I got home, I told my husband if it weren’t for the infant in the stroller I was pushing, I could still blend in with the high-schoolers.
He laughed. But I really meant it.
My, how time flies.
I turned thirty-nine on Sunday. I don’t think “blend in” is possible anymore – stroller or not.
As I reflected on another year gone by (and one closer to forty), I thought about what I would say to myself if I could go back twenty years and give myself some advice with the wisdom and life experience I have now.
I decided to write myself a letter.
Before I began, I was overwhelmed with emotion. It actually surprised even me. Tears streamed down my face, without having gotten even one word out. Some tears were of joy- because of the amazing life that I have today. Others were not so happy tears, as I remembered some of the more trying times the past twenty years have brought.
Today, I want to share with you that letter. As you read, I pray that you will see your story somewhere in the pages; that you will remember the times the Lord has walked you through trying circumstances and how you have grown in the process. And if you have not yet learned how to depend on Him, that through my words, you would grow one step closer.
Here’s my letter– to me:
How many times has your mom said, “You have the world at your fingertips?” Well… she was right.
You are about to embark on an amazing journey; one that turns out to be greater than you have imagined.
But, it is not for the reasons you think.
Right now, you think life is all about you.
But it isn’t.
Soon you will come to realize this. And in your realization, you will discover that while you have everything on earth you need to be happy, something is still missing in your life. On your quest to find happiness, you will discover how to have joy that is not based on who or what is happening to you. You will discover an amazing love; one rooted in Jesus Christ.
The decision to follow Him will change the course of your life. It is, by far, the best decision you will ever make.
For two years, you will be like a sponge, soaking in every detail of who God is. You will grow close to the Lord in ways you can’t fathom now. The Lord will birth dreams on the inside of you that you never would have imagined without turning your heart towards Him.
Many people will not understand the change that has taken place in you. Do not fret or shrink back because of the things others say. As you continue to trust in Him, the Lord will be faithful to you and the promises He has made you.
Before you see any of these dreams come to pass, though, your life will take some unexpected turns that will rock you to the core. Again, do not be afraid. It is through these times that you will grow into the woman you are today.Before they come, the Lord will prepare you with every tool you need to walk through these difficult years.
By your twenty-third birthday, the life you now know will not be the same. You will have met a man you thought you would marry. He will break your heart and you will be left with many unanswered questions. This pain will only be compounded by the fact that your “Leave it to Beaver” family will be devastated by your parent’s divorce. Your mother will move out of state. At the same time, your father will abandon you for a full year. You will take a job in a new city without the ties of a church, friends or family, as you work to overcome an eating disorder that has held you in bondage for years.
During these years, you will feel very alone. You will watch friend after friend get married and start their families. All the while, you will remain single for many years despite desperately longing to start a life with someone. There will be days you will question your new found faith and wonder if the Lord is really true to His promises. People will tell you that the life you are believing for doesn’t exist; that the husband you are praying for is only found in fairy tales; and that you will always have predispositions to an eating disorder- that this is one addiction you can never fully break.
I want to assure you…They are dead wrong!
The Lord is true to His promises.
The dreams on the inside of you were put there by the God of the Universe… because He wants to see your dreams come to pass more than you do. The naysayers in your life are only speaking from their own understanding. Let go of their words and hold fast to the Word of God. In it is truth; and the amazing life you long for.
You will spend many years “walking by faith” and “holding fast to your confession” as the Word says. It will take years of steadfastness, but in time, you will start reaping the results of your efforts and the Lord’s faithfulness.
You will overcome the eating disorder and be completely free of all predispositions to it. You will actually be happier with your body at 39 than you were at 25. Not because it looks so much better, but because you will be comfortable in your own skin. And know that your beauty is so much deeper than the number on the scale.
As for your father, remember hurting people hurt people. His actions stem from hurt. Forgive him quickly, before he ever asks. Trust God’s timing and wait patiently for Him. When the time is right, your relationship will pick right back up where you left off because you have not allowed roots of bitterness to get in the way.
Your broken heart will have mended, and while you may never fully understand it, you will be utterly grateful for it. After kissing many frogs, you will finally meet your prince – the man you have spent years praying for. Amy, he is everything you prayed for. Please, don’t worry about who and how and when you will meet him. He is kind, smart, handsome and most importantly, loves Jesus as much as you do- just like you prayed. Your relationship will flow the way it should- with ease. He will recognize you as the pearl you are.
Please. Please. Please. In the years ahead, don’t waste one minute doubting God’s plan for you. His plans are perfect. His timing is perfect. And, His love is perfect, too. He will not fail you. He will not leave you. Rather, He will walk with you down every one of life’s roads.
So, I encourage you… From this moment forward, live like you know how much you are loved and accepted. Embrace every moment. Refuse to settle. Love without expecting anything in return. Give exuberantly. Believe fully. Dream big. Laugh lots. And in every situation, hope.
Your life is what you make it.
With much love,
Your twenty years wiser self
In closing, I want to leave you with one last thought… As I wrote, I found myself wanting to encourage myself over and over not to be afraid. It reminded me of how often the scriptures warn us not to be afraid, as well. I believe there is a great deal of freedom in living fearlessly. Each time I wrote it and every time I thought it, but didn’t put it on the page, something deep resonated on the inside of me.
Today, I am reminded to live fearlessly; to be bolder and to trust more. I am encouraged not to waste one minute in worry about the future. He holds the Universe in His hands, surely He can take care of the next forty years of my life and yours.
I encourage you today… Whatever your future holds, refuse to give in to fear. He has a great plan for your life too!
Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”