In my previous blog I mentioned a writing prompt that could get you going on those “Morning Pages:” What would you say to your younger self? It was a question I tried to answer a few years ago when I looked back at a picture of my teenage self. It is a fantasy idea. We really don’t get a chance to “speak” into the life of our younger self. Maybe the title should be “What I wish I had known.” This is not meant to be a negative writing prompt; many of us would like a “do over” that we will never get. And yet, one thing of which I am thoroughly convinced is this: You can begin to create a new ending for your life. In other words, maybe your beginning was rocky. Maybe your middle was fuzzy. But at this moment in your life – you can choose to do things differently, if you want. The advice I would give to that younger me in the picture? – Well, some of that can begin right now.
Here were my spontaneous thoughts when a friend shared this picture with me. I no longer had a copy of the picture and I felt a great compassion and tenderness for that girl who had no idea what was ahead of her. These were some of my thoughts…
Our neighbor, a very young David Tremonte did a photoshoot for me at South Beach, on Hilton Head Island. HH was my hometown, but the beach was where I lived. It was a summer when my hopes were high, my tan was deep, and I thought that maybe this picture would encourage a young missionary in Africa to maybe like me! It didn't work. But the picture made me feel like anything could happen in my life. A lot had already happened, and a lot was to come.
What would I say to this young woman if had the chance?
I would say to her, you are more than the sum of your parts: don't give yourself away. You are valuable and worthy of the wait. Hold on to your highest, best dreams. I would whisper, You are already an artist - Don't wait until you are 40 to pursue what this means. Paint and do not look back. I would say, when the time comes to take that trip to Switzerland, You Go, girl! And don't put it off for some safe little job, no matter that the schoolhouse looked like little house on the prairie. I would say, backpack in Europe before you settle down. I would say, you are a firstborn girl: keep loving your parents- you will never meet any better; and those siblings of yours- be better to them and for them. You will regret when you let them down. I would say, girl, it will be a really hard road, you will make it quite a ways, you will weep, you will rage, you will know the highest joy and the deepest sorrow. (Get the meds earlier) but faith will not leave you, even if you want to leave it: Jesus Christ will make All The difference.
I would say, I will see you at 53, and I will sit down and remember, and I will be thankful that you made it.
I have shared that little bit of writing each year when the memory comes around on Facebook. And each year I am surprised at the number of people that have sweet comments about it. And each year when I read it, I get emotional. I have asked myself in recent days if I would add anything to the list. Mostly, I have tried to take my own advice.
Jesus Christ makes all the difference. Get to know Him. Love Him. Obey Him like your life depends on it – because it does – it really does… if we want the abundant life that He has for us. When I wanted something lesser, I got it. And it was very obviously “less.”
The hardest lesson: , Our suffering is tailor made.. Find a way to be thankful in the middle of it – it is producing something more precious than gold. (This is the most important lesson I could share with anyone. If you can get this, you can overcome anything.)
Family. Do the best you can. It is not always easy, but you won’t regret it when you have done all you can do. Love well and you will have no regrets. When I kiss my parents goodbye each day, I wonder if it is my last kiss – this will change you.
Make yourself keep taking the trips to faraway places. Sometimes it is hard to leave and you will miss home. That is a good thing. Enjoy all of God’s green earth that you can. Coming home is always sweeter.
Pray more and Hold your plans loosely. Holding onto dreams that may not be right for you can stunt your growth, your faith, your whole life. I have learned this the hard way. It is no fun. If there is ever a place to say “Let go and Let God,” this is the place.
Take your health more seriously. Conscious decisions about what goes into your body does make a difference.
Girlfriends. Make them. Cultivate them. And keep in mind that they will understand you best. It can make or break your marriage, your parenting, your work, your sanity. Never underestimate the power of a great friend. No one teaches this enough.
Smile. You will feel better when you do. And everyone around you will, too. I am amazed at how much better you can feel when you are kind and smiling, and treating others with grace.
Gratefulness will change your life. (Thank you Ann Voscamp) Counting the ”grace-gifts” of our lives each day brings joy. It creates the awareness of how much good we have in our lives even when we don’t feel like it.
I hope I have grown in the recent years. I am excited about this season of my life. Each day holds promise and the opportunity to grow some more. That young girl of 18 could have never imagined that turning 58 would be so thrilling.
Finding Joy in the Journey,