I loved my birthdays when I was a kid. I loved being the center of attention, the gifts, the games, and the friends.
My love for birthdays changed into something more like dread and disdain as an adult. They have a way of making one fully aware of lack. Lack of friends, lack of fun, lack of youth.
I found that with each passing birthday, the depression I experienced in and around that day increased with age. Last year, my 40th birthday pushed me right into mid-life crises mode. I began wondering what I had done with my life and why it felt so inconsequential. Actually, I knew why- I didn't feel like I had made any positive impact in this world.
One day, I woke up and decided that I wasn't going to accept this feeling of defeat any longer. My life was valuable enough to fight for. I made some big changes and followed God's leading to places I never imagined I'd go, all within just one year.
Still, as this birthday approached, I knew I needed to be pro-active so I wouldn't end up binge-watching Netflix with a box of tissues in one arm and a box of cookies in the other.
I decided to give myself a gift. I've seen people writing encouraging letters to their younger selves. I thought, that encouragement would be better served if we could read them right now, from our future self. So that's what I decided to do. I would write a letter to myself from the me that is twenty years older, in all of her wisdom. I asked God to guide me on this.
Let me start by saying- look how far you've come from just a year ago! It was on your last birthday that you weren't even sure if you had ever made a positive impact. You questioned whether your life was really all that important.
Let me assure you that even then it had been. Instead of wallowing in that feeling, you took the initiative to do something about it. You took some risks and did a lot of things that scared you in order to feel more alive and to better yourself. You totally messed up on a stage in front of a bunch of people and didn’t die from embarrassment. You worked with, and relied on, God every day to transform every part of you. And He did. And He'll continue to for the next 20 years and beyond.
I know you’d like me to tell you that you’ll be perfect at age 61. You’re not, but I can say that I don't think that's the point of it all anymore. I think it's actually the blunders, mistakes, and imperfections that allow us to see that we are one interlocking piece of a larger picture. Mistakes teach us humility and compassion. It’s through our imperfection that the best of our humanity shines, because it’s then that we must rely on God and others which binds and connects us to what we seek through perfectionism.
Your beauty is a gift, so enjoy it without looking for fault. When the time comes, you’ll see that as this gift fades, other very meaningful gifts will replace it. Be grateful for the ones you have in each moment. They are given to you when you need them so don’t try to hold onto the ones that grow faint- you’ll no longer require them to live fully.
Be kind to yourself. When you are, it won’t matter as much to you when others aren’t.
Step lightly in this life. Release yourself, others, and God from your expectations. Release the weight of this world and your past so that you can freely and easily move in every direction that God leads you. This way, even when you accidentally step on others, it won’t hurt them quite so much.
What you don’t achieve in this lifetime, you will in the next so instead focus on being present and fully live in each moment. The things that upset you will pass, so let them pass. You don’t have to try to be valuable. You already are.
There are a few things you can learn from your younger self too: play for no reason at all. Run without a destination. Laugh a lot. Build something you don’t need. Understand that it’s okay to fall down. Seek adventure often. Dream big dreams.
I’ll leave you with two final words: WELL DONE.
Find and follow my 100 Day Challenge to Find God in My Every Day at #IFoundGodIn