If you could write a letter to your former self, what would it say? Would it be things you wish you didn’t do or things you wish you did do?
Some of you may recognize the title “Dear Younger Me” as a Christian song by MercyMe. I’ve heard that song over and over and I hadn’t ever really thought about what it would look like if I had written a song or a letter to my younger self. However, I can definitely say I’ve learned and grown exponentially more in my upper 20’s then I have in the rest of my life. I definitely do wish I could have replaced the Maren I was back in college with the Maren I am now. Luckily, I’m so thankful for God’s grace and His ability to show me that He can refine me no matter how many times I make a fool of myself. This letter is proof that God can use every single one of us, amidst the filthiness and muck of our sins and use it for His glory. So, at 28 years old, here’s my letter to my younger self of what I’ve learned thus far.
As I look back throughout my 28 years on this Earth, I’m reminded of all the big life lessons I have been blessed enough to learn. I think the majority of who I’ve become today has been mostly due to the faithfulness of Jesus and His desire to never let me go. As I look back at my high school and college careers, I’m almost embarrassed to remember the Maren I used to be. I just wish I could take the Maren that thought she had it all figured out, give her a couple good shakes, sit her down and explain that God’s
plans for her life are immeasurably more important and fulfilling than any desire this world could ever provide. I’ve made a list of some of the most important things I’ve learned throughout the trials that Jesus graciously gave me to bring me closer to Him.
Love Others, in ALL Circumstances// It’s always easier to love someone that is similar to you or has the same beliefs as you. Even though you had friends that did not have your same beliefs, you found yourself conforming to their lifestyles to fit in but when those newfound lifestyles started to clash with values you knew you couldn’t give up, it became easy to call them out on their flaws, get in disagreements and allow those differences to sever your relationships. The love you intended to have for them turned to prideful judgement and caused a friendship to go down in flames. 1 John 4:7 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God” and John 15:12-13 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” These verses show that as believers and people who love Jesus, we are to love others (despite who they are and what they believe) for that love comes from Jesus. God’s love pours over into us so that those that don’t know Him may see Him through us. So, Maren, instead of convicting others for their differences, let’s love them and show them what it truly looks like to love Jesus.
Your Identity is Found in Christ ALONE// Finding and keeping good quality friends in high school and college were always a struggle for you. Often times, you’d introduce two of your friends to each other and then before you knew it, they were better friends with each other than they were with you and you would eventually become exiled from the group. Often times, your worth was measured through the amount of friends that you had and the amount of get-together’s you were invited to. One time in college, a friendship was severed due to miscommunications and differences in belief that left you broken and shattered. You thought your lack of friends meant that your worth had disintegrated right in front of you. How misled you were. You found your identity in your friendships and what others thought of you and instead, should have seen how worthy you were in God’s eyes. Things of this world, whether friendships or materialistic things, are fleeting and will never provide satisfaction, despite how much we think they will. The only thing we can anchor our hope and our identity in is God. He is the firm foundation when everything else is sinking sand. Colossians 3:3 says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” and Galatians 3:26 says, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” If our identity is found in things of this world, we will consistently find ourselves empty and worthless, but Maren, you are so worthy in God’s eyes, despite what friends may think or say. Remember to find your identity in Christ and not of anything else!
Emotions Lie// You grew up with a family that has struggled with depression and wore their hearts on their sleeves. You grew up thinking that your emotions were not meant to be controlled but expressed. You learned to let your emotions carry away your logic and trusted that they must be true if you were feeling them. You trusted entirely too much on what your emotions were telling you. Unfortunately, emotions lie. And despite this is one of the most difficult struggles to navigate, even today, don’t forget to believe biblical truth. God’s truth will never lead you astray. Even when your emotions want to listen to the devil’s attempts to pull you away from God, don’t give in. His truths will NEVER let you down.
Trust in God’s Plans, Not Yours// You’ve always been a planner. You like to have your life planned months in advance. You planned on getting married young, you planned on buying a house, planned on having a successful career and planned on having two children by the time you were 30. You even planned on having these plans work out the way you wanted them to. By God’s grace, most of the plans above actually came true, except for a few. After realizing that a job in the Animal Science industry doesn’t bring happiness and after spending over a year trying to get pregnant and not having success, it became apparent that your plans are NOT God’s plans. No matter how hard you tried to make them turn out the way you wanted, they somehow never satisfied your expectations. Even though the plans we have in our heads sound marvelous and well thought out, God’s already five steps ahead of you with an even better plan. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn this the hard way but once I have complied and learned to desire His will and plans for my life, it’s provided so much peace and freedom. God’s got this! He’s got your best interest in mind!
Give God ALL the Glory// The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is that God deserves all the glory. I remember always asking myself “what is your purpose in life?” So many young people try to navigate through their lives trying to determine what that very purpose is. Is it to be a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, a mom…? I’ve come to realize that we focus so much entirely on worldly success that we forget what the number one purpose is for why God put us on this planet. That very answer is found in the place we tend to skip over…the Bible. Matthew 28:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Our very purpose is to go out and make disciples of ALL nations. Our ONLY PURPOSE given by God is to make disciples and to give God ALL the glory in all we do. After all, He’s the only one that has authority over the Heavens and the Earth and deserves all of our praise. He loved us so much that He sent his ONLY son to die for us. The least we can do is give Him the glory in all we do and live our lives for His sake! So, Maren, don’t find your purpose in empty worldly things but instead, find your purpose in the eternal. After all, eternity is much longer than our time on this earth.
I hope you take these lessons of mine to heart and choose Jesus above all else. He is our firm foundation and if He is for us, what could be against us?! I sure wish I had known these things 10-15 years ago because I would have been saved from a bunch of wasted time and heartache. Always remember, though, that Jesus takes broken things (all of us) and does miraculous things with them. His purpose for you is so much better than the purpose you ever had for yourself! Run to Him and live for him!
Much love to you,
Future (2018) Maren