Hey friendlings, we’re going to be doing something new here on the blog for the next wee while!
I friend of mine challenged us at the AIA winter retreat that I went to to stop praying just for ourselves, but to pray for and care for others. I didn’t think much of it at first but it really hit me recently. A lot of us are coming into seasons or are neck deep in seasons were we are serving younger people, whether that be at summer camps, church ministries, helping out at community events or coaching. With all of that in mind, I thought it would be super useful to take a trip down memory lane and remember what it was like to be younger, but also have a look into what it was like for other people to be younger. So I have asked people that I love to share a little something about or to their younger selves so that you don’t have to listen to my life story all over again.
Today we kick things off with one of the people that I love, respect and cherish most on the planet. She’s my personal angel, model, role model, baker, artist, listening ear and lifesaver. If you have had the privilege of meeting her and hearing her story, you know that she is a person of great character and strength. She shares bits of her struggle in moving to NZ right before starting school without knowing a word of English – the fact that she wrote such a beautiful piece in itself is testament to how far she has come! She is currently 21, just graduated college (whoop whoop!), is working and on her way to work at a summer camp in the US in May!
So, without further ado, my sister ladies and gentlemen…
Dear Younger Me
Welkom in Nieu-Seeland.
Life will have been looking, and sounding, very different to you lately. You probably have not realised it yet but this wet, green country is home now. These strangers who sing different songs and don’t always where their school uniform are to be your people.
I know you are very lonely and confused and that you miss all that you have left behind, but do not be discouraged. There is actually far more to love about this new place than to despise. In time you came me to see this and to find your own niche among kiwis, though you are unable to envision it now.
Let me reassure you; someday this-terrible-English will not be so terrible. Someday you will understand your classmates, your teachers and the strange behaviour of the general populace. Someday you will find that you can in fact do the work assigned to you and do it very well. But I caution you not to allow the opinions and standard of others to others to determine your view of yourself: whether good or bad. You are hard enough a taskmaster that criticism will crush you and constant praise will become an addiction. On that note; learn to be teachable. You do not know everything because you read it in a book and you learn better from demonstration anyway.
As you can see, I know you very well. That is experience talking. It is the greatest of teachers but requires you to make peace with occasional mistakes. Remember that failing does not make you a failure and that steel must be tempered to be strengthened. This trial you are going through will teach you compassion for the lost and courage in the face of confusion. Just like Paul, learn to treasure adversity. Remember also that you view the world through a different lens and that it will not always understand or accept your perspective. As Pappa says; different is special and special is good. Do not wish away a part of yourself in order to gain what another has. God did not make any mistakes in the making of you.
I promise that you will come through this, and with barely a scar to show for it, as the most important parts of your previous life came with you. Your ever-supportive family and all-loving Abba will never abandon you. You already know that God has not given you a spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind; next you need to learn that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. So have courage. Eventually you will know that He never puts you through beyond what you can bear and that He works all things to the good of those who fear Him. Abba’s got this, but that’s not something you will realise for at least another thirteen years.
So just continue to marvel at the ‘glittery’ streets, the beach that’s just down the road, the chocolate croissants at the corner bakery and that your chest is ever less constricted. Enjoy being young enough to attend the Christian Men’s Network breakfasts and eating more than your share of the bacon. There will be a time when that will be frowned upon. Play outrageously and at every opportunity. Do not let the risk of dirt or humiliation keep you from enjoying every day that you are given. Laugh from the depths of your being, that your joy may be shared and have an open heart that you may be welcomed.
One who has seen a little more of the bigger picture.
PS: Make friends with the little girl in your class with the soft smile and long, pale curls. You will not regret the time invested.