Dear Younger Me… by Chrys Howard
I love this Mercy Me song. What would I say to my younger self?
So many “old folks” write about the things this new generation, your generation, will never see or hear: looking through the Sears catalog; watching American Bandstand; sitting on the kitchen floor talking softly to a boyfriend so the rest of your family doesn’t hear; laying on a blanket in the yard with a transistor radio for hours waiting for one certain song to come on; going to a drive-in movie wearing pajamas.
All of these things were a part of our generation’s life. But, not yours.
With each generation things change. Your cell phone was our TV. Parents worried about the dangers of TV. No, not the dangers you think about. They weren’t worried about what we might see or hear. There was nothing bad on TV (another thing our generation enjoyed). Our danger was in the TV itself. We were told the TV emitted radiation that could harm our eyes. So, every mother regularly yelled, “Don’t sit too close to the television. You’ll ruin your eyes.” Fortunately for all of us, that danger was short lived. As technology solved the problem, there was no need for the warning anymore.
So, what would I tell my younger self? What warnings would have been helpful? Would I want her to know that everything she would wish for in life would come true? That she will have a good husband who loves her unconditionally and children who make her proud and grandkids she adores. Or would it be better to leave the ending as a surprise?
I think it’s better to keep quiet about endings. Sometimes when we know the ending, the journey isn’t as much fun or we don’t work as hard, right?
But, I would tell her that the future is amazing and awesome and scary and exciting and fun and terrifying. I would tell her to learn everything she can learn and be ready for whatever God puts in her path. I would want her to know that God can use her even if she’s not ready, but the journey will be better if she’s prepared. So read the bible, go to Sunday school, listen to those older and wiser, attend summer camp--soak it all up. She will need every bit of it.
I would tell her to stay open to new ideas. There’s a new wave in the future where teenagers by the thousands get together and worship – sometimes in stadiums where football games are played. Her grandchildren will be able to turn on their radios and hear Christian music anytime of the day. So, she should keep singing Amazing Grace and The Old Rugged Cross because being grounded in her faith will help her children and grandchildren be grounded in theirs.
I would tell her to be brave so she can pave the way for those to follow. Be strong and courageous about following Jesus, joining the workforce, and raising a family. Tomorrow’s women will be brave and strong and vocal and she shouldn’t be afraid for her granddaughters. They will inherit an America that values women and embraces their powerful stories. Her granddaughters will do just fine speaking their mind and changing the world. They will have many opportunities to tell others about God and show the world how knowing God makes life better.
I would tell her to stop worrying that a car wreck or plane crash or disease will take her parents from her before she’s ready. I would tell her that God’s plan is always perfect and His love for His children includes protection from things unseen. And, even though she can’t imagine a world without them, God has a plan for her parents too. Stop worrying about what she can’t change.
I would tell her to stop stressing that she doesn’t measure up to others who seem smarter, cuter, better dressed, or funnier. I would tell her that God isn’t finished with her yet. She will be everything she desires to be. I would tell her to change her wish list to include brave, kind, strong, faithful, and loving. Forget cute, smart, better dressed and funny. Those things only get her so far in life. The rest of the journey is traveled best with the fruits of the spirit. I would tell her to look in the mirror and only see the princess God created – destined for His greatness, designed for His service.
I would want my younger self to know that a good husband isn’t about those things either. Cute, funny and smart are good traits, but they come way behind faithful, kind, loving, God-honoring, and patient. I would tell her to look in the right places for the right partner. Stay away from places where a good man wouldn’t go anyway. The future statistics are grim for divorce, so choose wisely. But, don’t look for perfection. The perfect man isn’t out there. I would tell her to find the one who serves a perfect God with all his heart, soul and mind.
I would remind her that family will always be important. That friends will come and go, and are valuable, but family will always be by her side. They will be the ones to show up when she moves or graduates or gets married or has babies or is sick or throws a party. Family will be her first source of comfort when times are tough and her first applause when times are joyful. Even though she might not like her siblings right now, I would tell her to love them always and cherish the times she has with them. I would tell her that her years with her siblings are short. Don’t waste them fighting and arguing over silly things, like who gets to sit in the front seat.
I would tell her that life will get hard. I want her to understand that it’s not for any reason, except life is hard. No one escapes tough times. Divorce, death, job loss, serious illness, children problems—all of these things are in her future in some way, but she will be okay. Better than okay. She will use each trial to grow closer to God. I would tell her to embrace the trial and look to God in every situation, because He is always there – not causing the pain, but there to absorb the pain. As God soaks in her pain, she will gain strength from Him. I would remind her of Deuteronomy 31:8 that tells her that the LORD himself goes before her and will never forsake her, so don’t be afraid or discouraged.
I would tell her to never give up. I would tell her that life can be overwhelming, but there is always a new day tomorrow. That job that seems too hard to do; that illness that seems too difficult to face; that relationship that seems too far gone to mend; that problem that seems too daunting to fix—all will look better after a good night’s sleep, a talk with Jesus, and the words and comfort of someone who loves her. I would tell her to never stop doing the right thing; always put one foot in front of the other and move forward, however slowly it is, move forward.
I would tell her to smile and be happy and enjoy life. I would tell her to run, dance, and play more. I would say kiss your husband, snuggle your babies, hug your siblings, wave to your neighbors, shake hands with strangers and laugh with everyone more. Life is way shorter than she can possibly imagine. Live it—more deliberately, more intentionally, more thankfully.
Hugs, “Older” Me