Encouraging others normally comes pretty easily to me. It makes my heart glad to help others feel good about themselves and the work that God is doing in their lives. Why is it so hard to save some love and compassion for myself? I am a child of God, just like any of the people I’ve lent my ears and open arms to. Loved. Cherished. Redeemed. Just the same. It’s scary how quickly I forget that.
I read a devotional this morning that challenged me to offer words of comfort to my past self–the girl I don’t like to remember. I’ve always been on the quiet side, but as a girl I was painfully shy and terrified of rejection. I didn’t look like the other girls in my classes. My skin, my hair, and my body type were very different from those of my friends. I stood out when all I wanted to do was fit in and be like everyone else. Some people stand taller, proud of being so unique. I wanted to shrink and hide away. I didn’t have the confidence I wished for then.
There is still healing to be done from my past. Nonetheless, if I could write a letter to the old me, this is what I would say:
Dear Old Me,
You are beautiful. You are loved beyond words. Fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God himself. God sees you and what you are going through, and He wants you to know that He is here with you right now where you are. He has always been right here and He is not going anywhere. He’s not mad at you or punishing you. He’s refining you, and allowing the events of your life to shape you into the woman you were made to be. You don’t need to strive or chase after perfection. You don’t have to worry that you are enough, because He is already enough. All of the work you’ve been doing has already been done. Your future has already been written. He loves you right here, right now, in the mess. You can speak freely to God, without pretense. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy, depressed, angry, or anxious. He knows what you’re thinking anyway. I know you feel alone and you might not believe it– but you have been set apart.
If only you could fully understand just how loved you are, you would probably not feel so afraid. It’s okay to reach out for help. Everyone has struggles, and there are people around you waiting to be a blessing to someone else. You don’t have to bear your burdens alone. There is always a risk when you start a new friendship, but it’s better to take a chance than to stay at home to feel defeated and alone. Those friends who tossed you aside, the unrequited crushes, the missed opportunities and failed attempts and unrealized dreams… God can take those painful moments of unraveling and weave them into a beautiful tapestry, all while healing your weary, broken heart. Life won’t be perfect, but there is goodness to be found in every day.
Don’t let anyone steal your joy. You have been given a gift to share with the world. The hunger you feel constantly, deep within your gut is not for food. Your hunger feels physical, but your spirit is crying out. When you give it all to the Father–all of the hurt, pain, fear, disappointment, worry, anxiety, loneliness, expectation–and walk with Him, He will satisfy you so that you never have to feel hungry again. It will take time for the hunger to go away, but as you spend time with Him you will feel more satisfied each time. When you find yourself surrounded by darkness, remember how good it can feel to bless others. When you give all of your cares to Jesus, you will find more energy to serve and encourage others. The most important thing for you to know is that God loves you with a deep, fierce, everlasting love. Own your truth and walk in it, believing that the Truth will set you free.
Love, Future Me
What advice would you give to your younger self? Leave a comment!