My apologies for being away so long; I was in Vietnam for holiday. I’ll definitely be posting about that soon — Sapa is one of the most beautifully untouched places I’ve visited — but for now, I wanted to share something I wrote in (and have been editing and adding to since) 2015.
It started as a topic for my students, and I’d done one as an example. It turned into something so much more than that, however.
The topic was simple: write a letter to your past self, giving advice you wish you’d known back then. (Yes, it was inspired by the viral YouTube challenge titled #DearMe, and that is why it’s the title of the blog. I’ve never claimed to be original.) In any case, most of these were written in 2015, with some added in 2016 and some added this year. I’m not sure which anymore.
I remember sitting down to write it and adding to it as time went on, but I didn’t remember what I’d actually written, until I recently found it and reread it. It was originally written to thirteen-year-old me, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the God of time (that is to say, God, who is outside of Time itself) had me write it for me now, and quite possibly me in the future. (What is the future to Him except somewhere He currently is?)
In any case, here it is. My letter, although whether to my past me, my future me, or my now me, I am no longer sure.
Don’t be afraid of who you are. I know you may sometimes feel like you are lost, and that you wish you could just be like everybody else. Don’t conform to the patterns of this world (and yes, that is a Bible verse from Romans; look it up). Remember that you are made in the image of God and that He loves you as you are, now and forever. You are different. Yes, I know that is something that you have a problem with but let me tell you that there is nothing wrong with being unique. God made you different for a reason.
Life is hard. I’m not going to sugar coat anything for you. I can honestly say that things do not get easier as you get older; they get harder. But do not give up. Through it all He is with you, and He will be your guide when you can’t see. Take His hand and let yourself be led through the darkness and the insecurities of living. Only He has the master plan, and only He knows where you will end up; trust Him, for He is incapable of doing anything other than love you. The hurt, the pain, the long nights, He can and will use them all, you just can’t see it yet. Life does not get easier, but with Him, life has purpose.
Trust Him. There will be times you cannot see where He is, and you cannot feel Him. These will be the hardest, the darkest, and the scariest moments of your life, but know that He will always be there, and that He will never let you go, no matter what you say or do. Do not miss opportunities He has given you to talk about Him; it may seem scary and overwhelming at the time, but in the end, only His opinion matters. And remember: He will let things you cannot handle happen to you, so you learn to rely on Him and Him alone. You are not a god; you cannot do things by yourself. Put your trust in the One who is and was and will always be.
People will betray you, and belittle you, and hate you.
It. Doesn’t. Matter.
Never stop being kind, never stop giving, and never stop loving, even if you think they don’t deserve it, because nobody does. You did not deserve Perfect Love, and yet you have it; give because you have first received, and love because you were first loved. In due time, all the seeds that you have sowed will grow, even if you are not the one to water them. God will call different people for different jobs; do not try to be a one-man band, and do not grow disheartened if you do not see immediate reactions. He has His own perfect timing for and in everything.
Be patient. I am not going to tell you what happens, nor what God has planned for me – for us. You need to find that out yourself, and you need to find your worth and your value by yourself. There will be hard times ahead, but do not despair. He has you in His hands and He will never let go, ever. Wait and knock, and He will open in due time. Never give up on love, because Love Himself has not given up on you, nor will He ever.
This is a time of growth. I’m not going to rob you of your joy of growing by telling you what happens. It will hurt, yes, and there will be many tears, but it is a necessary pain, one that will mature you and strengthen your faith. Don’t turn away; don’t blame God. He is where He always is — next to you, holding you, in you.
Relax; enjoy your time now. I know that you have many questions and uncertainties, things you think that you’ll have figured out when you’re older — when you’re my age. That’s not going to happen. Many of the things you seek you will find aren’t important, and you won’t wonder about them anymore; these will be replaced by things of more weight that you still won’t have an answer to.
Enjoy your time as a child, unknowing and without worry. Being older doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing; in fact, I’m more uncertain now than I was before. There are more things — more vital things — to worry about. The only wisdom that comes from being older is the wisdom that comes from being older; there is no profound moment when you ‘get it’.
Keep running. I know sometimes you want to give up and give in; do not do this. You may feel like you are too tired to continue, and perhaps you may very well be exhausted — but this isn’t about you. It’s about God. It’s always been about God, so don’t give up because things seem difficult or you feel tired. Of course you’re tired; you’re trying to do things on your own strength! Learn to rely on Him and Him alone, and you will find strength you never knew could be felt and a passion that is unlike anything.
I promise you it is worth it. It is all worth it.