Not too long ago, my husband was asked, “What advice would you, as a 48 year old, give your 25 year old self?” I thought it was a great question- one that caused me to reflect on what I have been learning over the past 20 years and sharpens my focus once again of who I am becoming. So on a recent trip to our favorite hiking spot, I had a weekend of reflection with God on this question and this is what came to me.
To my 25 year old self,
1. Discover the joy of being you and be confident in it. There are some that will not like you, or your strengths will make them uncomfortable. This doesn’t make you bad or wrong. Keep growing and walking in who God made you to be- humbly and confidently. Know your identity in Christ and your value as a woman made in His image. Do not let man or culture limit you.
2. Release anxiety to prayer- tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done (Phil 4:6-7). Make it a practice not to ruminate but to turn anxious thoughts (or overthinking) into prayers. There’s something comforting and reassuring about naming issues to the One who is far bigger than any of them. And as you thank Him for all He has done and what He will do, it reminds you of all the ways He’s carried you in the past, that He’s ever faithful and has it all under control.
3. Slow down in life and exude Christ’s peace- people need it. When we are continually hurried in life, it shows. Chaos is contagious- people feel it and it spreads. Our hurrying is reflected in our thinking, our actions, and in the way we treat people. Our capacity to enjoy the moment falls to the wayside and the well of emotional reserve helping us to respond rather than react, gradually runs dry. But when we are self-aware and choose to rest in Christ’s peace rather than harried emotion, people feel the difference. Calm is contagious.
4. The way you think determines the way you live, so dwell on truth. This truth is foundational. The way you think will be your growth and flourishing or your oppression. It’s your choice. You have to do the hard work of sorting through your “stuff”, the battling of retraining your thinking to reflect and focus on truth. And if you ever are battling with the lie of “not good enough” just remember that He is. It is finished (John 19:30). Be careful how you think, your life is shaped by your thoughts (Proverbs 4:23). Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent and praiseworthy. Think on these things (Phil. 4:8).
5. Love, even if you don’t agree, and continue to pray. There will come a day when you realize you can’t control things or people. But you can pray and entrust them to your loving and “above and beyond” Father who can do the impossible…whether that be transform the uncontrollable or transform you. When you hand things over (and sometimes repeatedly) control can give way to surrender, trust, and dependence. Your job is to love like Christ and continue to pray (Luke 18:1-8).
6. Take time to discern. Don’t be so quick to rush into things. Whether meaning well in order to fix/help, making a decision or because you’re looking for a new challenge, take time to collect information, hear from all sides, get counsel. Take time to pray and “sit in” things before making the call. Walking in wisdom leads to far less repair and regret.
7. Everyone is broken – don’t “hate” or elevate. When you get to know people, you see we all have hurts, areas to grow in, and insecurities. Don’t put people on a pedestal, it’s not fair to them and they didn’t ask to be there. Don’t hurt with your “hate”, jealousy or fear. Instead of distancing, reach out. When we take the time to get to know people and see them as valuable, we can be surprised to learn how much we have in common and appreciate them in a whole new way.
8. Cheer each other on and help others get ahead. Rather than be self-centered, territorial and insecure, take an interest in others by asking them questions and genuinely listening and caring to what they have to say. Be the first in line to celebrate with them. Give them opportunity if it’s in your power to do so. Connect them with others you know who may be a resource for them. Share with them what you know if it can help them. Invest. Pour into. You really will experience joy and fulfillment in coming underneath others and helping them get ahead.
9. The Faith Adventure is the road to take. In choosing to follow Jesus in faith, you will experience more than you could ever have imagined, you will grow to know, love, enjoy and trust in your faithful Father and you will develop more and more of Christ’s character along the way. If you follow Him on the faith adventure, you will have the ride of your life. The faith adventure isn’t always easy but it is the only road worth taking.
10. Be courageous in what Jesus is calling you to do. It’s going to be okay because He’s going first. Jesus will never call you where He isn’t leading the way (Matthew 16:13-19). Keep your heart and eyes on Him.
11. One step at a time. When you don’t know what you’re doing because you’ve never done it before, Jesus will guide you through one step at a time. You don’t have to be overwhelmed. Pray, ask questions, explore, take a step of courage and learn from it. Keep the vision as you move forward. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:14
Every day, receive His grace. Be available for the Holy Spirit and the people He entrusts to you. Don’t worry so much about your calling, just follow Jesus one day at a time and you will be smack dab in the center of His will.
Your 45 year old self