It's strange. 21 seemed so far away just a couple years ago. When I was a young teenager, I always figured I'd be living on my own by now, with a great job, married or at least dating someone, finishing up school, and, of course, having a ton of fun hanging with my friends during my free time.
But here I sit, about to be 21 and I've got a minimum wage job as a waitress at a retirement home (a job that I am VERY grateful for but not the "great job" that I was aspiring towards). I still live at home with my parents. I busted my car and will probably be shelling out about $500 tomorrow to get it fixed. I am as single as you get (which I'm completely OK with but you know how it gets sometimes). I have very little free time (what's that?) and my friends have responsibilities too, which means that we can't just hang out whenever we want to. I'm in a constant battle to keep my bedroom and my car clean. I'm trying to workout regularly, eat healthy and put on some weight which means more time management to fit workouts into my schedule and staying aware as to what I'm putting in my mouth at what times. Oh and then there's sleeping, I never seem to get enough sleep lately.
Not exactly the ideal picture of what I thought the big 21 would look like and that was even leaving out the most important part. God. And that's why my idea is completely different than what my reality is. Because God had other plans.
I would like to include this letter that I wrote to myself. My 18 year old self. Because I would have made a lot better choices if I had been given this letter three years ago, saved myself a lot of regrets, kept myself from a lot of unnecessary pain. So I'm writing it now. So I don't forget what God's done in my life. I still need it just as much now as I did three years ago.
So you're 18 now. You just spent your Birthday in the hospital because of some crazy infection that made you feel like you were going to die but you made it through. You're still alive. And now you're back on your feet again, shaking it off and getting ready to finish high school once and for all.
I know what you're thinking. This is your year to grow up, to finish school and then learn to drive. Then you're going to get a job or go to college. You haven't decided yet but you know that whatever it is, you're gonna give it all you got because that's how you do everything that's important to you.
Just stop for moment though, and really look at your life. You think you know what you want but do you really? Would you just take some time and really think about what it would look like if you got that job or went to school? Are you doing the best you can to take care of yourself and keep yourself healthy?
Listen carefully to what I'm about to say. Remember, I'm you three years from now so I already know what's going to happen. I learned a lot of things that, if you can learn now, might keep you from making the same mistakes that I did. It's not going to change the storm that's coming, but it will help you remember that no matter how much the waves toss you around, you're still anchored to the One who will never let you go.
You have to give up your life to God. You can't hold on to these plans for your life that you think are from God when you really just filled in the blank spots yourself instead of trusting that He knows what He's doing. Because your life is going to shatter if you don't let it go. All your carefully written plans are going to go up in flames if you don't burn them now on the altar before God's feet and surrender your plans to Him.
These next three years are going to change everything about your life. Everything you thought you believed will be challenged. Everything you didn't care about will become important and everything that was important won't matter anymore. You have to be flexible, you have to roll with the punches, you have to accept and embrace the fact that you're not in control. It's hard. But that's the point. Because you can't be molded into perfection without the fire from furnace.
You're a fighter and that's a good thing. You have a purpose that God needs someone with a strong spirit to fulfill. But sometimes you fight the wrong person and that's not a good thing. When you fight against God, you can't win. Do you hear me? You can not win if you fight God. You'll make yourself miserable and your spirit will be broken and useless for anything except for maybe digging yourself deeper into that messy hole you created by your misplaced efforts. Fight for God when the world is calling your name, fight for the truth when all you hear are lies, fight for what's right when everything seems wrong and fight for the light when all you can see is darkness.
I want you to enjoy living your life. Laugh a lot. Don't take your health for granted, take care of yourself and be as healthy as you can. Wear those crazy, bright colors that you love so much and always wear the big, loud flowers and bows in your hair. Don't be like everybody else, be yourself. Keep strengthening those friendships because those girls will end up being as close to you as sisters and you need that support system in your life to encourage you in godliness when things are hard. Tone down the makeup a little, you don't need to paint your face to be beautiful because you are already beautiful. Read your Bible often and apply what it says to your life. Live in a way that you know God would be happy with. God loves you and He will never give up on this work-in-progress that was started the day you believed in Him Fight hard and don't ever give up. Ever.
You'll make it, babe. With His help and the people He's placed in your life, you'll make it.