(an open letter I would write to my16 year old self, if I could.)
Oh, dear one, if you only knew…if you only knew all that is ahead. It’s probably best you don’t because the truths I would like to share with you probably wouldn’t be as meaningful if you knew them all ahead of time. However, let me share with you some important lessons I’ve learned since I was your age.
Let me start with ones that don’t seem so obvious now but to everyone else they’ll seem obvious later. For example:
- When it’s time to go shopping for a wedding dress for you, take your mom. She has looked forward to that your whole life. Don’t go pick a dress without her.
- Don’t turn on the jets in a bathtub when you’ve added bubble bath, you’ll have a big mess on your hands.
- When the light in your car comes on warning your car needs gas, just go get gas.
I know…but trust me these will be helpful.
Now in not too many years, you’ll hear a seminary professor (oh by the way, you’re going to seminary…cool, huh?) say,
“You will be the same person today in 20 years were it not for the people you meet, the experiences you have and the books you read.”
It’s true. People, experiences and books have shaped who I am, what I believe and how I view God. So here is the advice that I’d like to share with you from years down the road
1. Go out of your way to meet new people. It’s not always comfortable, but you have something to share with them and many have something to share with you. Some will enhance your life greatly, and others will teach you how NOT to live. Either way, people are important. It may be hard to imagine, but the people you have grown so close to during high school and in just a few years, college, will not always be there. That may sound harsh, but the reality is, some people are only in your life for a season. Learn from them.
2. Don’t rush to the next thing. I cringe when I hear high school or college students racing to finish and move on. Take your time. Enjoy the full benefit of those years. If I could, let me encourage you to use your summers during high school and college to have experiences you won’t have the opportunity to later. Go on mission trips, intern at a church, work at a camp. The Gap will want you for a summer. And you’ll get a really great discount, but you won’t make any money because you’ll spend it all in the store. So when they call, say “no.” Do something meaningful with that time.
3. Read books. All kinds of books, fiction, non-fiction, classics, but mainly your Bible. That’s the most important one. Fall in love with that book. That only happens by reading it. Take it with you so that you have it to read while you’re in a waiting room, at the car wash, getting a pedicure. Believe it or not, one day you’ll be able to have it on a phone that you’ll take with you everywhere! Crazy, I know!
4. There is only ONE that you need approval from. I know that you long for the approval of others, from Mom & Dad, your peers, your youth minister and your teachers. Over the next several years, you’ll wear yourself out working to be recognized and stroked for your achievements. I know that it feels good when they say nice things about you and appreciate how hard you work. However, there is only ONE place that should receive that much energy and it’s seeking to know God. Don’t worry, it won’t be wasted. If you seek God, you’ll have His approval. One day you’ll look for the approval of your husband, your boss, and your peers because it’s how you’re wired, but work to seek God’s approval.
I could share with you more little tidbits that could help you. Like write down the name Jared Allen. Word of wisdom: Don’t turn him down (at least not so adamantly) when he asks you out. You’ll just end up feeling silly when you eventually marry him. Yes…it really happened. Let me finish with just one more:
5. Sleep Now. I don’t want to freak you out but there will be the season when all you want is a restorative night of sleep and these little people that you actually gave birth to won’t allow it. I can’t stress enough…take full advantage of uninterrupted sleep.
Enjoy the ride and love deeply my child,
33-year Old You
Question: What advice would you give your younger self if you could? What important lessons have you learned from age and maturity? Leave your comment below.