Dear Younger Self,
We turned 22 on Friday. 22. Can you believe that? At 16, I never thought passed 18, and at 18, never passed 21, so 22 is really new to us. I wish I could go back and teach you and show you, my Younger Self, some things. I would teach you lessons on love and forgiveness and on kindness. I would teach you to take every moment captive. I would hug you hard and tight. I would heal all your hurts, even though they brought us here. I would give you a ground to stand on so that you are prepared for the life that is to come.
I would tell you, Younger Self, to notice all the little ways that the Lord is paving the road for you to meet Him – breaking your little life apart to make you depend on Him, ushering in just the right people to arrange the glorious meeting of you and Him, rising up biblical foundations (even though you wouldn’t call them that, you would call them your “good morals”) in your heart and giving you a care for the way your life goes. He was in all of those little moments. How precious it is to know that we were known long before we knew anything about it?
I would tell you, Younger Self, to take the Lord at His word. At 22, I chant “faithful You have been, faithful You will be.” It took promise answered after promise answered to get me to that chant, but I wish you could have known that and trusted that. I wish you could know that nothing is wasted, that He really does work all things for good. I wish you could have faith in His faithfulness.
I would tell you, Younger Self, to spend less time scrolling through social media and texting conversations that should not be texted. I would tell you to have adventures and get outside and see the world. I would tell you to stop believing the lie that you are ordinary, but to rather believe that your extraordinary is simply waiting to be found. I would tell you to grab life tight and to let it lead you. I would tell you that your petitions for control over the things that happen to you is so futile because things happen. But I would also tell you to make the most of all those things happened.
I would tell you, Younger Self, to seek people that pour into you well and that you can pour into well. Community will become our greatest treasure. Seek it, pursue it, utilize it, and adore it. I would tell you, Younger Self, to treasure the people in your corner – your mom, your sister, your very best friend. Treasure them so well because, over time, these relationships change and that will ache. But they last because you learn to treasure them. And that is worth more than gold.
I would tell you, Younger Self, to write it all. Write every little thought. Write all the feelings. Write every story and every tear and every laugh. Write down every boy that “breaks your heart” and every time our parents drive you nuts and every time you fall and fly and rise again and fall again. Write them all so that you can look back later and see how the Lord has been faithful. That too will be gold.
I would tell you, Younger Self, to definitely take off your makeup every night. Good skin is a dime, and you will appreciate it later that you did. I would also tell you to stop trying to fit into too small shorts and shirts and tank tops and dresses. I would tell you to embrace your body in all its curves and dips. I would tell you to embrace your size 11 feet and your too-wide hips. Someday, you will love this body and you will look back on the days that you hated it with regret.
I would tell you, Younger Self, OMG I would tell you to stop being so dang judgmental. I would tell you that you are no better than anyone else. I would knock you off your high horse because you do not deserve to be up there. I would tell you to strive for humility. I would give you a wake-up call lesson in how you are not the best at all the things you do.
I would prepare you, Younger Self, to ready yourself for your days ahead. There will be days that you trust the Lord so well that it surprises even you (think “I just graduated and I don’t have a job”). But there will also be days where your faith seems to be hidden under a rock and you cannot get to it. You keep holding on then – you do not succumb to the anxiety you feel or the hopelessness that surrounds you. You keep fighting and you crouch and crawl through the mud to get under the rock. You get under that rock, and you find your faith there. And you stay there until you can stand back up.
At 22, you will wake up from a dream where you went on a date with a precious guy. He loved you well and held the small of your back when you walked in front of him. He joked with you, bought your dinner, and didn’t make fun when you ordered chicken tenders, always. And you will wake up and realize it was only a dream and that’ll sting a little. But it will be nothing like the sting that the 16-year-old Brenna felt over being single. You wanted a guy to have fun one and one that would fill the void of Christ in your life. But 22-year-old you, oh, she will want a partner, someone to have and to hold in sickness and in health until death do them part. She wants someone to lead her and guide her into the Kingdom of God. So while the sting still remains, at 22, there is hope that the great, big God we adore adores us the same way and gives us good gifts. So, I would tell you, Younger Self, to not take the first guy that treats you somewhat well because it will waste your time. If he does not love you less than he loves the Lord, he cannot love you near the degree that you deserve. Hold fast because He who has promised is faithful.
And I would teach you, Younger Self, to fall in love with your life. It is nowhere near perfect, but it is beautiful and I would bend over backwards for you to see that. I would tell you to fall in love with what is happening and to carry that love with you – to help you, to sustain you, to encourage you.
Younger Self, know that love, grace, patience, kindness, and abundant life are coming and they are yours to have. The best really is yet to come, so hold on, Younger Self. Hold tight because life gets really, really good, and you’ll want to be able to see that.