Dear Younger Me

On a day when my head was loosely wrapped around a lesson at best, I prayed for inspiration, and what evolved was a beautiful thing! After playing “Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe for my students, they were highly engaged in brainstorming and writing insightful letters to their younger selves. I felt compelled to join them. This is my first draft.

Dear Younger Me,

Your love of language will intrigue you, entertain you, and, at times, sustain you. It will lead you down two career paths—first, as a journalist; second, as an English teacher. The words of others will bring you to your knees and help you stand tall—from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to William Paul Young; from Mary Oliver to Robert Frost; from Jane Austin and Kate Chopin to Stan Lee and J.R.R. Tolkien. Furthermore, your own words will heal you in ways you never imagined.

One of the greatest lessons you will learn is echoed in Aragorn’s exclamation to Frodo and his fellow Hobbits near the end of The Return of the King: “My friends, you bow to no man.” You will spend years bowing to men. It will ensure your survival while you are young, and it will prove perhaps your biggest challenge in life to overcome.

Rest assured, you will overcome it, sweet girl. You will realize and ultimately internalize some simple truths. You have far more courage than you ever imagined. You need bow to nothing of this world—only to your Maker, who loves you unconditionally in ways you cannot fathom, and who is always by your side.

You are not responsible for the suffering you endured as a child. You are, however, responsible for the suffering you will seek out obliviously as an adult, because it is familiar. What’s more, you will continue to put yourself through it until you finally understand your own worth and consciously decide daily to follow God’s will and treat yourself as the treasure you are. All of this is a process, and God will place people in your path along the way who will prove instrumental in your journey.

These people, little one, are the most important part. Some will be a positive force in your life, and some will be negative; but, they all present opportunities for growth. Therefore, they all offer reasons to be thankful. Love them all. Set boundaries to protect yourself as necessary, and spend time with those who treat you with respect. But, love every one of them the way God loves you, and your heart and soul will soar all the more for it.

Forgive, let go, live for the moment, be grateful, and be of service to others. For gratitude is an attitude all who are willing can embrace, no matter their circumstances. And, a grateful heart is a happy, humble heart. Moreover, being of service to others is why we are here, whether it’s taking care of family, lending a helping hand to friends, providing a safe place for students, or volunteering locally or in a third world country.

When we find ways to seek God’s will and be of service with a happy, humble heart … that is when we truly live. And you, beautiful child, were born to live!

All my love,
Older Me

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