Dear Younger Me,
I don’t have many regrets in my life, but if I could live the last 30 years over, these are the things I would want to understand sooner and remember every day:
Don’t go through your life being worried or afraid and holding back — instead, be bold. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I know you are always wondering if you are doing God’s will, but remember that God cannot redirect you if you are standing still — go in the direction you feel called, and if its not right, He will let you know, but do something. You only get one life to live — make it count and make a difference! The power of God in you can do great things.
Don’t ever apologize for being yourself – we all need graceful sanctification, but God created you the way He did for a reason, don’t apologize for it or wish you were another way. You see things in a way that is uniquely you — use your views, your voice and your personality to minister to those around you. Wanting to be someone else is basically telling God He made a mistake making you the way that He did – you are His perfect handiwork, let that soak in. He thought the world needed a you, so go be you.
Immerse yourself in the gospel daily and live in the freedom that comes from God’s unconditional love and grace. Wrap God’s love around you and let Him truly be your Father – it will change your life if you live fully in that knowledge and that love. Sometimes its difficult, but just know that the more time you spend in relationship with God, the more you desire that relationship as an integral part of your life and the less seriously the things of this world affect you.
Don’t worry about having new and trendy clothes and being fashionable — be clean and neat and put together, but if you look people in they eye and show that you care for them sincerely, they will never remember what you were wearing at the time. Don’t waste your time chasing after the things that the world says are important — instead, invest your focus and your time on others and on pursuing God. As you talk with others, listen to understand and empathize, not to respond. If there is something you feel you need to say to someone, say it in love and filter it through grace, and it may change their life. Be more free with compliments and positive comments towards others. Be direct, be honest, and most of all, be kind.
Don’t be scared of people’s opinions of you or what you think they can do to you. Never be apologetic about your faith or make excuses for what you believe. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone, and you owe everything to the Father — don’t be ashamed of speaking about what He has done for you, even if no one else understands.
It’s ok to be silly sometimes, to laugh and enjoy life and to pursue things that make you happy – every moment of your life doesn’t have to be productive and every situation is not a moral dilemma. Take time to develop hobbies, invest in relationships and also to rest. It’s ok to rest — I’m going to say that again because I think you need to hear it — it’s ok to rest. Seek God in those quiet moments, and be at rest without guilt. Breathe, stretch and soak up the little moments — those little moments add up to a life, don’t miss them or wish them away by forcing yourself to be productive 24/7! You don’t earn anything more in heaven by being busy here on earth.
Set yourself up with good habits — they will help carry you through some hard days. Start your day with good coffee and the Word of God. Create your home the way you like it so you have a peaceful place to live in serenity. Wash your face before bed, change your sheets often and clean your jewelry so that it sparkles. Invest in a good pair of jeans that makes you feel like a million bucks. Buy quality once and then take care of what you have, and don’t buy more than you need. Besides water, nothing drowns more effectively than clutter.
Be smarter with your finances — invest, save and budget. There are things down the road you are going to wish you had planned better for, and there is no time like the present to start. You will have opportunities to give to God’s kingdom work, and it would be awesome if you could give more. (You also really love the beach, and a really good vacation every once in awhile wouldn’t go amiss!) Learn about things you don’t know very well, like the stock market, and always try to understand your world better, even if that means admitting you don’t know everything and asking someone to clarify. Knowledge is power and you’re never too old to learn something new!
Allow yourself to feel all of your emotions, just be sure to pray over them and be cautious before you act on them. There are things that you will wish you could take back, but you can’t ever really do that, so be more cautious. Think before you speak — just because you can say it doesn’t mean you should say it. Be kind to everyone you meet and befriend the people that sit alone. Be sure you have good manners in every situation — being polite never goes out of style, no matter what society says. Watch your language and what you say — as Granny Violet says on Downton Abbey “Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”
Be an integral part of a small body of believers and talk about the Word –it is hard to be vulnerable and I know you hesitate being in those situations, but it will make the Bible more clear to you when you are able to talk about it and see it filtered through other people’s experiences. Be creative and practice the things that you wish you were good at, like painting, until you are good at them. Push yourself at the gym – you haven’t even scratched the surface of what you are capable of and it would be good for you to push harder just to know that you can do it. God has healed you in so many ways, make sure you never forget that and don’t think for one minute that you are weak or incapable. Daydream about whatever strikes your fancy, just remember to not get ahead of yourself or lose sight of reality. Pray about EVERYTHING, even when you just need to talk to God like a friend.
Some hard days are coming — keep the faith, and know that God has a plan for it all. You may not understand, but that is what faith is for, walking into the unknown and not getting lost or falling down. Focus on what God has already done for you, and trust His hand to guide you.
Final thoughts — I know you love it, but maybe don’t play catcher in softball every season. Your knees will thank you later on! And it’s ok to like Jane Austen, don’t apologize; she was a wizard with words and Mr. Darcy is perfectly acceptable as a paragon of manhood.
You know, since I’m not dead yet, maybe I’ll make this a “Dear Future Me” letter, for the future starting right now. There is no time like the present to seize the day, live life to the fullest, and make a difference. Don’t get complacent, don’t get comfortable, and don’t settle — God created you to be more, and to do more through His power and strength. You get one life to live, so live it out loud, to the fullest and with absolutely no room for regret.