Growing up, my answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, changed only a few times. As a 6-year-old I wanted nothing more than to be a lion tamer. It’s recorded in stone in my “All About Me” Dr. Seuss book (well, the disintegrating binding is clearly not made of stone; many loving fingers have turned the pages of that book over the years). As a 9-year-old my answer became, simply, “Happy”. My 11th year unveiled my ultimate dream: I wanted to be a veterinarian. This was, after all, the perfect combination of my previous goals…a life filled with slightly smaller, more domesticated “lions” would surely make me happy! 29 years later, here are
5 things I would suggest to my past self…
ABOVE ALL… A dialogue-style relationship with Jesus can begin at any age; the earlier, the better. Walk with Christ as your best friend, confidante, comforter, Big Brother, Daddy, heart healer, hand holder, Savior. Finding the profession and/or family of your dreams is great, but there is nothing more that God our Father wants than for us to have a close, personal dependency on Him. This relationship will carry you through SO MANY tough times, bringing you more joy and strength on the other side. No human can fully do this- neither parents, nor spouse, nor friends. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) Please, do not wait until you are 20 to realize this.
Speak your worries to God. He will wash them away. “Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank Him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your hearts and your thoughts quiet and at rest as you trust in Jesus Christ.” (Phillipians 4:6-7) I know this is more easily said than done, but trust me, it works! You have a tendency toward anxieties that results in insomnia torture on a regular basis…these sleepless nights are so unnecessary…speak your worries to Christ your confidante, and He will enfold you in His strong arms, bringing rest to your heart and mind.
Do not be jealous of others. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14) We are all made in God’s image, His perfect creations. This includes you, and everyone around you…and all of your perceived faults. We have the responsibility to care for the bodies we have been given in this world, but they do not define us. Nor does our skin, hairstyle, or athletic ability. Learn to recognize American media and worldly standards for what they are worth: nothing. Guard your heart with God’s truth, and revel in your beauty in His eyes.
Stay strong in your enjoyment of all things. This is a gift that you have, and it makes God smile; embrace it! It is not your path to perfect one talent…leave that to others. Your fascination with the new and different makes you, well, you. It is a talent that will serve you (and God’s mission) well in the future as you appreciate the complex beauty of nature, different countries, peoples, foods, and cultures. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) God has created amazing, endless variety in this world for us to explore and experience…do it without guilt!
Joy and peace are worth far more than “happiness”. This is a difficult yet important concept to grasp. Happy thoughts are beautiful but fleeting in this world…we are surrounded by far too many tragedies, struggles, sins, and sad stories for a state of constant “happiness” to be maintained. Cultivate heartfelt joy and peace in the knowledge that “God’s got it” instead. Seek to have joy and peace as constants in your heart; these Spirit fruits will shine in your soul despite the circumstances. You will have trials; your life will never be a breeze. God is refining you daily to become the woman He intended (this is a life-long process, never perfected). “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) You will have wisdom and strength at an early age…my prayer is that you would also find joy and peace sooner rather than later.