I turn 45 today. Normally the birthdays that mark a decade are the big ones, but this year I am feeling reflective and thankful at 45. Sometimes it’s helpful to look back at where we have been in our lives as it can help inform us of where we are going next. Kind of like how we drive a route to a destination and learn things about the route each time we drive it. You learn about the traffic patterns, construction, and potential detours that can save you from wasted time or potential disaster. And likewise, the detours that can open up a whole new world that was just a street over that you had been missing out on all along.
If time travel were a thing, I might like to go back and give myself a few tips. Not necessarily to change the course, but to be a better informed traveler through life.
To my 15 year old self… do not buy the lie that you have to beautiful to be loved. God gave you outward beauty and health for a little while, but I promise you, it will fade. And the people who are most concerned with the outside will be the first people to go when times get hard. Spend more time on being beautiful on the inside. Be relentlessly kind and caring. Learn how to make other people feel good about themselves. Read more. It is ok to question all of the things that you were raised to believe. This is a necessary part of making the faith your parents taught you become your own. But don’t lie about it. Don’t try to live a double life- doing all of the church things you feel like you should be doing AND living the way you want to with your friends. Own your actions, and their consequences.
To my 25 year old self… laugh more. Forgive yourself for the things you did as a teenager, God has and you need to as well. You married young, but you picked a good man. A really good man. Good job on that. Let go of the fairy tale ideas you have about marriage. Real life is better. You had kids young too. You can do this. They turn out to be pretty great people. Laugh with them more and teach them to laugh at themselves. Make them try lots of different foods while they are young, and you try them too. Don’t be afraid to be still and quiet…cultivate it as a habit. Read more. Not just books to your kids, but read things that make you laugh and cry and see God in new ways. Say no to things. When you stay home with your kids, people will think you have endless amounts of time, you don’t. Call it intuition or maybe it’s the Holy Spirit within you, but that small voice or feeling you get about people or situations- good or bad- listen to it. It’s right.
To my 35 year old self… listen to your body. Doctors will dismiss you and tell you that things you are feeling are normal, but they don’t live inside your skin. Learn to speak up for yourself in the doctor’s office, sooner rather than later. Also, don’t stop doing the things you love. When you stop making pots, part of you dies inside. Contributing to the family income is important and helpful, but you do not have to deny who you are in pursuit of money. That is bad for your soul. Keep advocating for your kids, you are doing a good job there. They have issues and they need your voice to help them succeed in the public school system. Also, the church or should I say the people in church, will let you down. They will disappoint you because you hold them to a different standard. Don’t do that. They are just people, like you, who will mess up and do hurtful things. Don’t hold that against God. And don’t let it keep you from getting involved. You have things to offer. Your words will help people feel not alone. They will help people feel loved and understood and heard. All of those journals you have been writing in since college are a training ground for you. Hard times are ahead of you and writing will help you sort all of your stuff out with God. You are stronger than you think you are. Keep writing.
Me at 45