A Letter to My 18 and 1/2 Year Old Self: Part Four

Here we are again. Are you annoyed by these? You probably are only because you like to know everything all at once, as much information as someone is willing to give, and this is drawn out in weeks and frustrating to you to wait and be patient. Well let me tell you a secret: patience truly is a virtue. You will have a more peaceful spirit and a more enjoyable life if you can figure out what God's trying to teach you about patience. At 29 you're still lightyears from owning it, but God's working on you yet, girl. 

Don't forget you were a cute (and precocious and crazy) kid once yourself, too. You aren't too good for them.

Don't forget you were a cute (and precocious and crazy) kid once yourself, too. You aren't too good for them.

On Kids

At this point, you don't really have many thoughts on little kids. You have successfully avoided children's ministry up until this point, and you think you're out of the babysitting stage now (newsflash: you aren't. You will continue to have a complicated relationship with babysitting throughout the next decade...) Here's what I want you to know: kids will change your life, and they don't have to be yours to do it. They will teach you about the world: you'll get to see life through their eyes in ways you've never imagined, and their innocence and joy will renew something in you that you tried to suppress at such a young age. You didn't love being a kid, but you will learn the blessing of childlike faith by befriending families with kids. Don't feel like you're too good for it. Don't shy away from teaching Sunday School because they scare you. Kids are scary and wild and crazy-- but they're also way more grace-filled and kind that you are to yourself. Get to know them and learn a little more about what it means to give grace to others (and to you). 

On Friendships

Speaking of kids, it is the best thing in the world to become friends with families with kids. They will make you less self-absorbed, teach you so much about relationships and sacrifice and humility, and they will feed you food which is always a gift. But truly, befriending a whole family will change your life and it is so wonderful. One day there will be kids who share no blood or birthright with you, but by the grace of God, you look at them and know you are family, you will love them as your own. Build relationships with people of all life stages, because they have so much to teach and share with you, and you might just bring something to the table as well. People your age will always be self-absorbed in their own circumstances (at any age), so get out and see a broader perspective. Befriend people older and younger than you, with wild kids and silly dance parties and messy lives. You will be better for it.

I am putting this here to remind myself next week: we must discuss forks in your hair. 

I am putting this here to remind myself next week: we must discuss forks in your hair. 

On Worry

At 18.5 you have already perfected worry-- you could teach graduate-level courses on it. You worry about everything and walk around life as if landmines of your pre-conceived, anxious thoughts are around every corner. Girl, step out. Take some risks. Try things that you're petrified you might fail at-- sometimes you will. Do it anyway. You think that Jesus' command "do not be anxious" doesn't apply to you because you have clinical anxiety, but the truth is, it applies to you all the more. Your anxiety is a burden you bear, but it is the same as the thorn in Paul's side-- it is there that you might boast in Christ alone. God is so much better than you can ever perceive. Know that and chase after its truth with everything you have, because it will put the worry and anxiety in perspective. It is NOT easy-- like really, really, really not easy. Your worry and anxiety does not magically disappear. But don't let it become what holds you back from seeking God's kingdom. Listen to Jesus: 

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
— Matthew 6:25-33

On Seeking the Kingdom

Your biggest life fear at this point in life is that a) God will call you be a missionary in Africa living remotely and alone and away from everyone you love, or b) that God will call you into ministry. You'll fight it and reject it and make it clear to anyone who remotely asks that you never, ever want to be a pastor's wife. At 29, you are neither a missionary nor a pastor's wife, but you are slowly letting go of wrestling with God over His call on your life. You, sweet 18.5 year old, you would laugh and cringe with equal measure at your 29 year old self who wants nothing more than to spend your days serving the church and sharing the truth of Scripture with others. But here's what I would tell you: let go of the resistance sooner. God is persistent and He is faithful, and He figures out a way to your heart of stone, but oh that you could get one more day where you might see all of life as an opportunity to share the Gospel, the Good News of who Jesus is and what He has done and continues to do in your life. You will be awkward and imperfect and pressed by it all-- but it only allows God's grace to become more real and amazing to you. "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness". You will find a life you never wanted, and a joy you never conceived, and you'll never be the same.