June fifteenth of this year marked my eighteenth birthday. By God’s grace, I’ve successfully circled the sun enough times that I’m considered an adult.
When I was twelve I was encouraged by the leader of my Bright Lights group to write a letter to my future self. It’s funny to see how dreams can change over the years. I wanted to share with you the letter I wrote, and a response I wrote to my twelve-year-old self. Sometimes it’s encouraging to look back and see that some things really do work out how you hoped. And at the same time, the things that don’t turn out how you want them to are God’s way of saying He has something else planned for you.
How is life? Did a career in the healthcare field come to be? As of now, you are 12 years old and have a cat named Christmas. You have four brothers, a sister, and two wonderful parents!
You are reading Sense and Sensibility. Next you plan on reading Mansfield Park.
By now I hope you have achieved the following: You have read the Bible at least once through. You have a jewelry business. You should be transitioning to wearing more skirts. Please tell me you are only 5’5” still!
How are ______? [Here I listed my six best friends of the time.] Are you driving? Is it scary? What is all of the family doing? Is your handwriting any better? Did you write your book? Did you use the original story? Does Christmas have kittens? How many?
Well, time to go! Don’t forget to smile!
Dear Twelve-Year-Old Me,
Life is very good. You never pursued healthcare as a career, but you have done a ton of research about herbs, essential oils, vitamins, and healthy eating. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you that you’re teaching piano lessons out of your basement and dance lessons at your childhood dance school.
Mansfield Park is still one of my favorite books. You’ve read it multiple times over the past six years. And even though your first run took you three years, you have indeed read the Bible straight through. A jewelry business was a short-lived dream. I don’t think I’ve thought about selling jewelry in years.
I’m sorry to say that clothes don’t get much less confusing as time goes on. You actually wear skirts less than you did at twelve, but you enjoy wearing them more when you do. I really don’t remember your motive for wanting to wear skirts all the time, except that maybe your beautiful mama has always been an exclusive skirt wearer and everyone could benefit from being more like her. Even though the never ending questions of fashion and modesty never get easier to answer, with age you gain the confidence to look in the mirror and say, “Lord this is the best I have today, If it doesn’t please you, show me how to do better tomorrow.”
I know you always wanted to be 5’3,” but 5’6” is lovely too. We all know the only reason you wanted to be short was so that you could have a tall boyfriend. Things worked out, so don’t worry. 😉
People change. You haven’t spoken to most of the girls on your “best friend” list in years. New people have come into your life, and the old ones have slipped out. It’s odd, and strange. I don’t think that at twelve you would ever understand this, but it’s just what happens.
Yes, I’m driving. Finally. It’s not scary, but it’s not my favorite thing ever; and that’s okay. There are a lot more things in this life than you imagined that are both good and undesirable at the same time. You can’t spend your life being afraid of everything. You have a lot of silly fears. More than I care to admit. But most of them are conquered by just doing the feared thing. I think it’s the unknown you’re afraid of. That and failing. Learning to fail with grace often comes in handy. Usually, it’s better to try and fail than to never know if you could have made it work.
The family is much as it was before. Your big brother is off at law school with his cute little wife, Christy. You have one more brother than before. He’s an adorable, ornery, four-year-old blessing. The other kids are nearly the same, just taller and gradually forming into the unique individuals they were always meant to be.
Your handwriting is fine. Not beautiful and flowy like grandma’s, but it gets the job done.
Book writing is not for you. I think that deep down you always knew that. Maybe it would have been nice to finish one of the books you started, but you would have been finishing for the sake of finishing, not because you had a real desire to share a story with the world.
Christmas had three kittens, and a few other cats have walked in and out over the years, but we’re back to just Christmas again. We’re a one cat family.
If I could go back in time and tell you one thing, I would tell you not be afraid.
I imagine you will struggle with fear, insecurity, and anxiety for the rest of your life. And that’s okay, as long as you don’t let it control you. You have the ability to be afraid of innocent, impossible, even good things. It is not fear itself that is the problem though; it’s how you deal with it. Try as you might, you can never just will yourself to not be afraid. There is great power in saying, “I am afraid, but I will carry on.” Only after you acknowledge you are afraid can you properly give your fears to Christ, and there you will find peace. Verse upon verse tells us to be bold and fearless, but the way to do that is not to say to yourself, “I have no fears,” but instead to say, “Because the Lord is with me, I will overcome my fears.”
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind..”(2 Timothy 1:7)
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Here’s a thought. . .
This was a fun and encouraging exercise to do! I love looking back over my life and seeing God’s plan more clearly than I could while I was in the midst of it. No age is too late to do this! Maybe you can write a letter to your twenty, thirty, or even forty-year-old self! Write some of your dreams and plans and look forward to seeing which dreams come to be and which dreams die to let a better dream live.