Dear Future Self

by - March 12, 2020

Dear Future Self,

Man, what I'd give to be where you are. Before you even read this letter, look around you. Take a minute to take in your life. And don't take a single thing you see, feel, and know for granted.

Even if it's broken and scarred, I hope you see that it's beautiful.

I'm working so hard to be sure you end up safe, loved, and respected. I'm pretty sure you have these things from some amazing humans because you had them back then when you were me.

But I hope by now you are much better at giving these things to yourself. You used to be terrible at it.

You are where you are today because of me, your past self, at least in part.

I hope you look around your life and find health, peace, and joy. I hope you find Jesus, and family and friends.

I hope you find a bountiful dinner table and still find joy in feeding the ones you love. I hope laughter and deep conversations find you and yours lingering long over engaging ideas and wrestled faith, while a glass of good wine swirls in your hand, the dishwasher whirs in the background, and the night grows long.

I hope you talk about the books you're reading and never stop learning and growing. I hope you still run and have finally learned how to build a fire in the backyard without a starter log.

I hope you always say yes when someone asks you to go for a walk with them. How many healing miles did we walk? Only God knows.

May you be kinder, gentler, and present for people when they are devastated, because you learned the hard way what kind of healing salve that is, and how those things have actual super powers to bring a person back to life.

May you carry yourself with dignity and not take yourself too seriously, both at the same time.

May you never stop having fun.

I hope you are proud of your life, and are mostly happy.

I hope you know intimately who you are and confidently accept — no, approve — of the woman you became. You know better than I do what finding yourself cost us both. And I hope and pray it was worth the price.

You were small for far too long.

Don't ever forget you owe a debt to words. There were so many words.

There were mantras and confessions. There were revelations and declarations shouted and whispered.

You filled journals with handwriting. You read stacks of books and articles.

There were countless counseling sessions with a compassionate and wise therapist, who either rattled you or rallied you in fifty minute segments, and was discerning enough to know which to employ when.

You spent hours texting and typing, and on phone calls that added up to months of your life.

You said so many words, so many times, to a small trusted circle you couldn't keep track of what you said to whom.

I hope all of those friends are still with you and are deeply trusted. I hope they have been with you for years now and that you've had a chance to return the exquisite gift of listening.

I hope there's an army of new friends, too. You were lonely for so long.

God's word and prayer served you so well. These were the best words. I'm sure your knees are worn because you can no longer live without either.

They fed you when food could not, and they became the only way you knew to process this fallen-down life on earth.

You still have problems, I know. But you are better equipped for them than I was. That came to you as a gift from the years between you and me.

Life is never without its problems. But I worked hard for you to have a sense of rest in your soul that anchors you because you survived a dark time and you didn't give up on yourself. I pray the wisdom you gained became a grace you now give to others.

Don't ever forget the tears you cried, the sleepless nights, or how proud you became of who your children grew up to be. I hope they still inspire you, teach you, challenge you, and are dear, dear friends. I can't imagine how proud you are of them based on how proud I already am now.

Don't ever forget any of these things. I suspect that, from your vantage point, they are the redeemed parts of the journey.

I love you so very much, Dawn. Don't ever lose track of that love ever again, you hear me?

You are the reason I do all the hard things these days. You are beautiful inside and out. We all are. You are strong, wise, and have a purpose.

Don't ever take for granted where you are, and all you have, including your challenges. Much of it was learned and earned the hard way, and some came as a gift of grace. But everything about who you are was forged in the fire, and if it lasted it's precious metal.

So you better be chasing your dreams hard, and not wasting a minute of your life. You better be wild and free, with equal measures of abandon and reverence in all you do. It better be freaking beautiful!

Man, what I'd give to be where you are, and know you in your fullness.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that as beautiful as it is where you are, getting there is going to be worth the journey and will be something you wouldn't have wanted to miss in the end. So I'll stay in the here and now, and work towards getting us there, even though I've asked God a million times, "Please, let's skip ahead to better days."

I promise I'll get up every morning and keep fighting for you. I won't let you down, because you're worth it.

I hope you know that you're worth it in your bones up there in our future together, because, right now, you're still learning that glorious truth, and you don't know it very well yet.

I can make you that promise to keep fighting for you, because when I get weary, I have a body of friends and family that love me, and carry me when I can't go on, and don't, won't, leave me.

I could never do this alone. I'm convinced we need people in our lives, a generous handful of beautiful, broken people who love unflinchingly. I have a hunch you became that kind of person.

Never discount the power of love, Dawn. And don't grow cynical.

Someday, if you find yourself in the middle of something you have no idea how to get through, stay there. Don't rush it. Relax into the hard middle and feel your way through. Stumble in awkward stammers if that's all you can manage in order to get to the other side. You already know from the past it's worth it. Keep going and never give up.

Until then, please know I can't wait to meet you. I'm pretty sure you're an amazing person. And I hope you smile ... a lot.

My all,
Your Former Self

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