I wish I could go back and talk to my younger self, take her by the hand and tell her things I’ve learned along the way. This is what I would say:
1. Think positively about yourself. Maybe it was because I was born way on behind my siblings (as they say in Pennsylvania Dutch country) but I never felt like I did things “right.” I felt like I was in the way. I still feel that way to some extent. When a driver rides my bumper, I feel I need to get out of the way. I have to tell myself, I have as much right to the road as any other driver.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
2. Accept your body as is. I towered over boys my age for most of my school days. I envied cute little gals who attracted admirers like flowers attract bees. I always wanted to be of “normal” height. But as I’ve aged, I’ve learned that being tall is not a handicap. In fact, I now feel good about standing tall. For one thing, everyone thinks I’m slender. Actually, it’s an optical illusion; I’m just tall.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
3. Laugh more. My family did not joke around. Our Pennsylvania Dutch heritage patterned communication: We said what we meant and meant what we said. So I at times think someone is being sarcastic when they’re only joking. If I had it to do over, I would lighten up, learn how to give and take, poke fun at myself.
A cheerful heart is good medicine. (Proverbs 17:22)
4. Savor the moment. I always anticipated something or other. I wanted to grow up. To graduate. To get a job. To get married. To have children. I’m still a bit like that. I can’t wait for a family get-together, for a speaking engagement, for a cold to clear. But the joy of living is in walking through life hand-in-hand with God, enjoying the journey. When you’re not feeling well, you can at least savor the warmth of a cup of tea. Rushing on only makes the journey end sooner, or at least it will seem to because you miss small blessings.
Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
5. Don’t expect perfection. Your cake will not look like the one in the cookbook. Your talk will not solve all the problems in the world. Your spouse will not always say the right thing. Your kids or your in-laws will not always make you happy. You will make mistakes. But it will not be the end of the world. Do the best you can, and let it go. Learn what you can from every experience and move on.
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
6. Don’t think of yourself too highly. Realize that you are dispensable. The world can go on without you. Quite well. So don’t feel that you must do this or that, be here or there, because it all depends on you. Rather, concentrate on being a blessing to others—to your family, your friends, your colleagues. Be generous. Be compassionate. You will better enjoy the journey and those around you will better enjoy being on the journey with you.
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment. (Romans 12:3)
If, as a young person, I had known these things, I would have worshiped more and worried less. I would have been more fun loving and less frustrated. As the Pennsylvania Dutch say: “We get too soon old and too late schmart.” But God is faithful in spite of it all, and I praise Him for walking with me on the journey--even when I’ve stumbled.
Enjoy your journey. And leave a comment telling us what you would say to your younger self. If you receive this by email, just scroll down and click on the link to comment.
February 1, 6 p.m. – Friends of the Heart at David’s Community Bible Church for “Tea with Friends.”
February 3, 11 a.m. – Friends of the Heart at Thompsontown U. M. for “Tea and Chocolate with Mary, Martha and their Psychologist.”