I have seen so many of those articles or blogs about “What I Would Tell My 16 (or any younger age) Year Old Self.” I have always been intrigued by these and have halfway wondered what I would tell my younger, clueless, drifting, often downright lost, insecure, broken, super fun, skinny, but thought I was fat with an eating disorder, still trying to find myself and figure it all out 16 year old self. But most of the time, I would rather not rehash the past. Some things are just better left buried and dead where they belong. Make no mistake, I have wonderful memories of childhood and high school that could fit into any Lifetime movie of the week. But you will never hear me say, “those were the good ole days.”
Honestly, if I could, there is a lot I would say to that naive girl that was so desperately trying to find her way. For example;
“I know that you are making your brand. I know that telling people exactly how you feel without regard to any type of social norms or consideration for how they make others feel makes you feel liberated and strong. But in reality, it is incredibly immature and is not biblical or even ok. Basically it makes you uncaring and mean. (That’s a nice way of putting it, my mom reads these.)
Hey news alert…You aren’t going to marry him. You’re life isn’t over and it actually gets better.
Real friends are still there 20 years later. Gray hair and maybe a couple a wrinkles starting to form but nothing else has changed. Let the others go.
What you are doing right now DOES MATTER. Be a good friend, have the hard conversations, be a good listener, say ‘I love you’ but only if you mean it, go visit your grandparents every chance you get because they won’t be there forever, don’t date your friend’s ex-boyfriend even if she says it’s ok, don’t skip school more than once, ok for sure no more than twice, don’t put your happiness in that boy (you’ll need to remember this one for the rest of your life), pay more attention in church, read your bible more, don’t put on your makeup while you’re driving, and for the love STOP smoking. ”
Ok all of that is legit. That’s sound advice, right up there with “don’t eat yellow snow.” But if I could tell my younger self one thing. JUST. ONE. It would be to “love them anyway.”
You see, people are human. Duh, right? We all make mistakes. Some of the pain we endure in this lifetime is intentional, some not. The message is the same. Love them anyway. Harboring anger and resentment and bitterness is a cancer. The saying goes that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We were never promised a life without pain, without heartache, without loss, without injustice. To feel entitled to a life to the contrary doesn’t even make sense. What we were promised was direction for the lost, wisdom for the ones that seek knowledge, rest for the weary, peace in the midst of chaos, calm in the storm, strength for the weak, sure footing for the unsteady, comfort for the brokenhearted, and above all LOVE AND GRACE.
“That friend will stab you in the back, that boy will cheat, that family member will do something that, to this day, you won’t understand. Love them anyway. You will feel scammed, deceived, tricked, and bamboozled, by the most unlikely of sources. Your heart will be utterly broken. Love them anyway. You will be defiled and left and want to die. Love them anyway. Your marriage will one day come under such attack that surely it will not survive. You will lose not one, but two babies before you hold your first precious son. Love the man you chose anyway. Your mom with go through the fight of her life and it will be so difficult to even be in her presence, love…her…anyway. Your parents will go through a nasty and bitter divorce after almost 40 years of marriage and your loyalties will be torn. Love them anyway. Your friends will leave you. You will feel alone. Love them anyway. Love your enemies and look for ways to bless the ones that persecute you. Nothing puts out a fire faster than when you refuse to fight. Try it. You only live once, on earth at least. Our time is so finite but our ability to learn and stretch and grow and give and be a blessing is limitless. Look for ways to let that happen. Oh! And calm down! Seriously, if you think you’re stressed now, just wait until you’re in your 30’s! (I have never been much for pep talks;) ”
P.S. That senior ring you lost for years is behind Daddy’s dresser. You’re welcome.