This past week a letter came in the mail to my youngest son who is about to graduate. The sender is what caught my attention. It was addressed both to and from himself. He told me his 7th grade English teacher had his class write a letter to themselves when they were in her class and here it was 6 yrs later and he was receiving it in the mail. It was fun for us to read both to see his transformation and also the distinct call God has had on his life all along. It was a great exercise for him to do then and an encouragement to receive and read it this many years later…boy does time seem to go by so fast!
After experiencing the significant impact of this letter I decided to write myself a letter but rather than addressing it to the future me… I decided to write to the younger me.
To my younger self,
There’s so many things I’ve wished I could tell you… we sure have come a long way by the Grace of God!
I write this as our youngest son is preparing to graduate High School.
Crazy as it may seem we’ve now spent 27 years raising boys and maybe what’s even more wild than this is….I’d choose it all over again!
Motherhood has been a gift and so worth the years we’ve given to them.
When it comes time for you to make this decision or if it falls unexpectedly upon you…don’t look at what you’ll be giving up by this seemingly overwhelming interruption instead what you’ll gain from it. For the gift of these little but mighty humans will far outweigh anything you expect. Sure there will be a lot of hard days, in fact seasons when you’ll wonder what you did. But those moments will strengthen the minor muscles of your heart.
The lessons you’ll learn and the love you’ll experience is like none other.
Parent from YOUR place of creativity and passion.
Don’t try to be someone else….Be you!
You’re an amazing Mom and will rock this thing by the grace of God!
Please don’t make the mistake of getting lost in the boys’ lives, it’s so easy to slowly drift your identity inside of theirs but these boys of ours need you to be the woman God created you to be so they will seek out woman of character and strength as their wives to walk through life beside.
Tell them you love them a whole lot and linger longer in their beds tucking them to sleep each night, you’ll hold onto those memories in the years to come. Show them God through and through and even when you mess up show them Jesus…let your hard shine through the broken glass of life for through its’ rays they will see Jesus even more clearly. These up close encounters with Him will turn their hearts towards Him in their own hard & holy moments.
Let God be your first…
A lot of things will fight for this spot but make Him your focus and everything else will fall in its rightful place. This doesn’t mean you won’t experience a lot of pain and heartache it just means God will be with you through it all.
Hold on tightly to the beautiful moments….Cherish, respect and honor your husband. And love him with all of you, he loves you dearly. He will be a living demonstration to you of Christ’s love for the Church. Although great storms will threaten your unity and love, cling to what you know is true.
Fight hard for your marriage and not against it.
Pride will threaten it from all sorts of places.
The brokenness you’ll carry into marriage will be what God uses to grow you the most. Don’t fear these splintered messes for God will meet you within the secret spaces of your heart and do some amazing healing here. And this my sweet one is what He will use to heal and minister to others.
You know all the times you thought you were too fat and not enough look past your criticisms when you’re older you’ll find your curves and the unique shape of who you were created to be is where your beauty really lies.
Those fears that keep rising telling you ‘you’ll never be good enough’ or ‘you’ll probably fail so don’t try’…don’t believe those lies you’re going to do things and go places you’ll never believe.
Those kids you’re so afraid of messing up well that doesn’t happen either because grace wins in the end and covers all of your mistakes and misgivings.
Yep and even all the times you mess up and say the wrong things well somehow those get redeemed too!
Younger self, your faith is what will hold you together.
Nothing else will fill you, guide you or bring you greater purpose.
The world will dangle its attempts but you’ll do yourself a huge favor to resist their offerings and only give yourself to things of God. The world will offer to numb and satisfy you but their empty offers will only create a greater need within you and a whole lot more of mess you’d have to clean up.
You’ll find the satisfaction for your soul lies within the pages of His Word…it has the power to transform your life and allow you to live free.
So, before you do anything every day no matter the importance of your day saturate yourself in Him!
Implant yourself deeply inside His word.
The wisdom of His Spirit will guide your household through all of its storms.
God’s word never gets broken down even when our lives are in the middle of its own brokenness.
The Church is full of brokenness and broken people including us.
Dismiss unrealistic and unbiblical expectations of God the Church and people this will guide you well. I fell into this trap far too many times early in our ministry years and when I finally found freedom from this thinking I was able to love the messines of Christ’s bride as God does.
Don’t be disillusioned into believing you are as valuable as your titles or the numbers on any measuring stick-
your identity comes from the Creator of our world.
Stay true to your desire to do Kingdom work, it will be full of some of your most rewarding and hardest work. But when you surrender your Kingdom work to God it will be less about what you will do for Him and more about all you’ll do with and through Him!
And young one, don’t get caught up in the bigness of ministry look for the small and unseen spaces of ministry…most of real life happens within these places.
Get forgotten for the Kingdom for it’s here God is seen.
There will come days when life is going to take your breath away and you’ll experience pain that runs deep…rest in the assurance that God is going to get you through it all!
He will never leave or abandon you.
For brokenness resides on this side of Heaven but one day when we join God in His heavenly realms all of our brokenness will find its once intended wholeness and healing.
Until then… we have the remembrance of all the times He’s brought us through the hard and holy moments of our life and will do it ever-so-faithfully again!
Words matter…they carry with them a reckoning force..ones that have the power to destroy or to revive lives.
Don’t waste your words on uselessness.
You have a tendency to get stuck on words, instead reserve your energy for the rebuilding and restoring of people to God.
The rest is only our missed opportunities that are wasted on pride.
Remember when you hid your young self underneath the dining room table from the embarrassing shame of not knowing your ABC’s?
Well, it all turns out good.
Letters and words actually become what God uses in your life to tell others about Himself.
Let your love for words fall upon the pages of your heart. God’s going to use them to speak into places you’ll never travel.
Our story is a bigger part of His story…you’ll find ‘story trading’ is a precious gift He’s entrusting you with as you share and collect stories all throughout life.
On the matter of relationships.…
Loneliness is a choice…
reach out and invest in others.
Don’t expect others to fill the emptiness that only God can fill.
People are worth it and community is a valuable commodity that is often exchanged for busyness.
Every hard is made easier inside of community!
Friends will be God’s hands and feet through your life to reach inside your heart and bring the healing it needs.
The abuse you suffered when you were four will find its healing too.
Don’t let its pain drive you into all sorts of corners striving for attention, instead cling to the healing God has for you!
It will blow you away what it feels like to be healed and healthy again.
Share your story again & again for it’s a driving force in your journey to find healing.
And as you walk into this new season of empty rooms fill them with the things and people of God. Let their emptiness become a vacuum for others to come and find rest in Him. Your heart will find healing as it has every time before. Our purpose never changes even in the midst of our circumstances changing…it’s here where God allows His purpose and our passions to collide, never becoming too settled for they’ll continually be changing!
Lastly, pray hard & never stop!
Prayer will sustain you, lead you and give you the grace to forgive.
Prayer will carry you further than any thing else!
Lean in deep to God in the quiet places of your soul, He can handle all you’re carrying and will lead you through your dependency upon Him.
Sweet girl, pray with a recklessness and vulnerability before God you’ll be amazed at His response to your transparency.
His grace wins every time!
I love you younger self even all the jagged edges that God’s grace will soften and use along the way!
…….Ruthann, another version of you!
P.S. Here’s the beautiful family we’ve been given!