I just finished one of those epic, quintessentially beachy summertime reads, What Alice Forgot. The plot is simple: 39 year old Alice knocks herself out at spin class, and wakes up not only with concussion in tote, but with a complete loss of memory as to the prior 10 years. Her “29” year old mind then enters her present world, and is simultaneously appalled and amazed as to who she’s become …and as to what she’s forgotten and left behind.
Were I then to concuss my head at spin class – okay, let’s be honest: I haven’t done spin in a year and a half …were I then to concuss my head while slipping on Cancan’s old banana peel and the mess of Cheerios all over the floor, what would I then say to my 24 year old self? How would I react as to who I’ve become, and what I’ve forgotten and left behind?
(All credit to Leigh-friend for this intriguing question the other day regarding the book).
Dear 24 year old me,
Hello dear one. Dear one – do you believe that about yourself? Do you believe that you are so fully and wholly loved, just as you are, for the depths of your YOU-ness?
Embrace that. Run with it. Stop trying to be someone you’re not, and just be you.
You’re a high school English teacher – and I’d say that’s a pretty good fit for you, at least right now. But without telling you what you should or shouldn’t do vocationally in the future, follow your heart and stop freaking out about the future. Instead, be present. Breathe deeply. But be the best damn teacher you can be: let your youth be to your advantage, and know that it’s okay to admit that you’re not perfect, that you don’t have all the answers. So take that scowl off your face, and quit whining about all those papers you have to grade, and stay away from the politics and drama. It’ll be there. It’s a permeating part of every work place environment, but you don’t need to get sucked into all of that. And also, a head’s up: quit drinking so much Starbucks, sister.
You’re also a friend to many, and for the most part, that’s a good thing. But you’re not defined by your friends. You’re not defined by the number of social engagements you’re able to keep, and the amount of friends you have coffee dates with (…again, you might be a little over-caffeinated). So if what you need is permission, permission to take a break relationally and God forbid not have something booked every afternoon and evening, that’s okay. I give that to you.
K. Let’s talk turkey here: boys. You’re obsessed. It’s like the pinnacle point of every conversation you encounter. A surfer from the east side looks at you, and you go home and begin daydreaming about your wedding dress and bridesmaids that evening. It’s like you’re standing at the factory line conveyor belt picking daisy petals – he loves me, he loves me not – thinking that’s your full-time job. And more than that, you let these boys define your worth. Friend, you are worth more than the sum of the heap of petals you’ve piled around you. He will come, even if it’s not in the timing or the little wave-washed body you thought best. He will come.
Here’s my last little nugget for you: you are worth more than your performance. You really, really love Jesus right now, and people really, really see that in you (and you really, really like that they notice this about you). You speak at camps and you lead worship and you serve coffee and you give announcements at church, and frankly, you’re pretty good at loving Jesus. But I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: he doesn’t care. He doesn’t give a lick. In fact – Christian cuss alert – Jesus doesn’t give a rat’s ass about any of these things, because your worth and your value are not defined by how well you perform for him. To him, you are loved for simply being you. That’s it. That’s all it is.
So I’ll reiterate the main message of this letter to you, one more time: Cara, you are loved. You are loved – again and again and again – not for who you aren’t, but for who you are. So go. Go and rest, go and love, go and be.
You got this.
xo, your 34 year old me.
What about you? What would you say to your 10-years-ago self? What advice would you give?