Today, I am 31. Thirty-One! How did that happen?
Only yesterday, I was in college. I was in high school the day before that. And I was in diapers hanging out with my grandma the day before that!
My Innermost Thoughts
Time seriously flies and there was a time in my life when I could not even imagine being in my thirties… pretty much up until I was 29! ~smile~ When I turned 29, it was like a countdown timer started. –tick, tick– … you are that much closer to 30, Heather… –tick, tick– … even closer… you are getting old … –tick, tick– … and there is nothing you can do about it!
My innermost thoughts can be mean, sometimes. For twelve months, I dreaded that dawning of 30. How could my twenties be over? They just started, didn’t they? But, when I turned 30, a wondrous thing happened… I felt great! Suddenly I felt free. I felt all grown up.
It was a strange sensation. It dawned on me that the world really does not care if I am all gussied up when I go to Wal-Mart. If I make a fool of myself during a game of Mad Gab, who cares? Once 30 came, I found that I had been dreading getting older for nothing. We females do not have to see aging as the enemy. In fact, the Bible praises aging. It is our American culture which degrades it.
So, in honor of my 31st birthday I decided to write a letter to my 21-year-old self… here goes…
A Letter to My Former Self
How’s college treating you? I know it seems hard, but believe it or not, you’re going to miss it. I know some of those classes seem purposeless. You’re thinking, “Why do I need a philosophy class?” You may never know the answer to that question, but try to learn all you can just the same.
Here’s a shocker for you… your grades don’t matter that much. I know, right?! Who knew?! Good grades are only exciting if they represent actual learning. Getting an “A” on a paper simply because you know how to work the system (i.e., make sure your paper is the proper length, use the right amount of references, and sound intelligent) is nothing to celebrate. Learn, Heather.
Don’t take this time for granted. Get good sleep so you can be alert in your classes. They are not just hoops to jump through to get that degree. Some of your professors are really wise – learn from them. Get to know them and let them mentor you. Spend less time worrying about your grade point average and more time learning the material. You may actually need to know it someday (and you’ll be annoyed that your husband knows everything you should know since you’ll go through the same graduate program. ~smile~).
I know going out with that guy who has been calling you seems tempting, but believe me, he’s not the last guy who will be interested. Don’t settle. I know it’s hard to stay in your dorm and watch movies on Friday night while everyone else is out on a date; but, don’t jump into a relationship just to have someone. God really will see you through. You don’t need to be afraid of living a single life. Only fear the life lived outside of God’s will and fear being with a man who does not love you as Christ loves the church.
Call Granny. She lives for your phone calls… and your cousins’ phone calls. You will probably never know how many times you’ve been protected by her prayers. She is a large reason you are who you are today. Cherish her. Even though you cannot imagine life without her now, the day will come when you can’t call her anymore and you’ll wish with all your might that you could dial her number and hear her excited voice on the other end. She’s worth your time… she is always worth your time.
You’re starting to figure this out now, but just to be sure you know, Mom and Dad are actually quite intelligent. ~smile~ Just because they don’t want you going out with every guy that comes your way does not mean they don’t want you to have any fun. They want you to have an amazing, abundant life. They don’t want you to get hurt. More than anything, they want you to fulfill the calling God has on your life. Listen to them. They have some years on you and they know you – like, really know you.
Be nicer to your friends. They’re human, Heather. Sometimes they are going to mess up, just like you do. Remember to treat them with grace because a true friend is worth more than any worldly possession. Stay in touch with your old friends and don’t neglect your new friends. Even if you are dating someone, balance your life. Spend time with your friends and your sweetheart. Don’t spend all your time with him and then regret missing out on special moments with your friends and family. You won’t get these years back, so don’t spend them wishing for the future.
Call your cousins. Even if they don’t respond to you, let them know you care. You can’t wait your whole life for others to reach out to you. You need to reach out to them. You love them… so much… so, tell them!
Hold your breath for this one… are you sitting down? Marriage will not solve all your problems. In fact, it comes with a whole new set of challenges. (Yay.) Some days, you will wake up and wonder why you decided to get married in the first place; however, most days you will just be thankful for your husband. He’s going to be a great one, girl! He will try your patience, but he will be loyal and trustworthy. He will be focused and driven to the point you’ll want to scream at times; yet, when the dust settles you will always be his priority. He won’t tell you that every minute of the day, but he loves you and your heart is safe with him. Wait for him, Heather. Don’t waste your time with counterfeits. Spend those hours living… really living. Don’t wallow. He’s coming. Just wait for him. (In fact, you already know him. Can you guess who it is?)
Last, but not least, pray. Pray and spend time with God as often as you can. Nothing matters without Him. If He’s not the center of your life, you are not really living. Your purpose is in Him. Your worth is in Him. Your salvation is in Him. He is your all in all… your everything. You can do nothing of worth apart from Him. Turn off the TV. Open your Bible. Pray when you’re tired, when you don’t know what to say, and when it feels awkward. Pray like your Granny Jones prays. Take the torch from her and keep the fire burning. You know He placed a passion for prayer inside of you even though you are running from it.
The next ten years is going to fly by! Soon, you’ll graduate from college. Graduate school will seem to take forever, but I promise you it will end and you will be glad you stuck it out. You’re going to get married soon! You don’t know it yet, but your single days are drawing to a close.
Marriage isn’t going to be what you expected. There will be more challenges than you expected and there will be more joys than you expected. Work through the hard times because it will be so worth it! And remember to be friends with him, not just husband and wife. And it may seem like you will never get a dog, but you will. She will be a big, furry, excitable, cuddly golden retriever… just like you always wanted.
The biggest challenge you will face in your twenties is your desperate desire for children. Your friends will have babies, your co-workers, your clients, and even kids you once babysat. The day will come when you cannot bring yourself to take a pregnancy test because you cannot bear to see one red line… again. You will have days when you feel bitter, forgotten, unworthy, and terrified, but you are not alone. Don’t push people away. Let them love you. And most of all, love God. Even if He never gives you a child, He’s still God. He’s still on the throne. He still has a purpose for your life. Love Him regardless of your circumstances, count your blessings daily, and learn to be content in whatever state you are in (Philippians 4:11-12).
Stop worrying so much. Smile more. Set small goals and achieve them. Enjoy your twenties! No matter what you’re going through right now, it will pass. And just remember… I’ll see you in ten years! ~smile~