I celebrated a birthday this week, a rather significant one. I won't mention numbers, but it's caused me to think about the past while also contemplating the future.
If I could give wisdom to my younger self, the little girl Cindy, the teenager Cindy, these might be some of the suggestions I'd offer to ease her into an unknown world...
1. Soak up every word your momma says. Watch the way she walks, while she can still walk. Memorize her face, her hands, and her voice. Listen to her wisdom and imitate her walk with Jesus.
2. Forgive those who hurt you...enough said.
3. Make sure you know the stories of your mom and dad's childhoods. Ask them to share in detail what it was like to grow up in the 40's and 50's. Listen to their love story over and over.
4. You are stronger than you think.
5. You are an introvert and there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean people don't like you, it means you are the one who holds back, not them. It's ok to be quiet and reserved. Don't be ashamed of who you are. One day you'll understand what it means to be an observer of people, and they will fascinate you.
6. Study more in school, you're smarter than you think. And in that same vein, finish your education.
7. Take heart, my sweet self, one day you will stop chewing your fingernails into the quick. They will grow like your mom's and she would be proud.
8. If you could see into the hearts of your friends and classmates, they have fears too. They have family drama, heartache, pain, and "stuff" they can't talk about. Be a friend, extend grace.
|Bus and Wilma Summers at my high school graduation|
(my mom's best friend)
9. Don't worry so much about popularity. It will fade with time. Care more about how you treat people. Care more about the choices you make and the influence you have on others.
10. And cheerleading...it is still the pinnacle of a girl's high school life. Can you believe it? Enjoy it and the friendships you make. You will love them until you're old enough to get an AARP card. You don't know what that is, and your grown up self refuses to own one.
11. You won't grieve your mom's death until she's been with Jesus thirty-eight years, but you'll find God teaches you more about Himself in the waiting. He is sovereign so you must trust His process.
12. Appreciate the beauty of your special relationship with your mom's best friend. She will become like your "other mother" and love you as such. She and her husband will show you what it means to, "do unto others."
13. Don't stop writing. You have a creative mind if you'll give it air to breathe.
14. You have some surprises along the way, many twists and turns. You'll marry young and he'll be a fine man. Two of your greatest blessings come from foreign soil. They will teach you about unconditional love. You will love like you never thought possible, and you will be loved.
15. Enjoy life and the journey. Learn to appreciate the unique way you were created. Most of all, follow your Creator; Seek after Him and study His Word.
I wish I could spare you the pain and hardship you'll face but just know there is One who is faithful and will never leave you...even in the darkest of days. He is there and one day, you will come to know His strength was made perfect in your weakness.
If only it were that easy to write back to our younger selves. Hindsight, right? We would still make mistakes and get it wrong.
|Text message gift from a dear friend|
Is there a younger one in your home who's struggling with some of these issues? Think about what you would say to your younger self, and then try to make a difference in the life of a child. We all have childhood memories we'd rather forget. Children today have the same struggles with a lot more stress heaped on them.
This may seem like a silly idea but maybe, like me, it helps you to recognize and appreciate the path your life has taken when you reminisce on where you've been and where you're going.
Birthdays are a celebration, a time to pause and remember. To my younger self I'd say, "You will be blessed with many people who will love you and those you will love...treasure them for they are gifts from God."
And then it's time to look ahead...