I had just turned 18 and was so excited to start my Freshman year of college at Crown in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota. It was the fall of 1993, and I was looking forward to starting my life as an adult. I was majoring in vocal music performance and taking challenging Bible classes and enjoyed the freedom that campus life provided. I went to school with my best friend and was making new friends from all across the country. I didn't know what was in store with this new adventure, but I knew that I was now in charge of making my own decisions and set out on an uncharted path.
All of these years later, I look back at this young woman who was all of 18, yet thought she possessed so much knowledge and wisdom. I see a girl whose smile was always painted in bright colors and who kissed a few too many expectant lips. I also see a girl who had a lot to learn.
A Letter To That Girl,
Girl, listen. And listen closely. I am you, 26 years older, and dare I say wiser. I want you to know a few important truths that might make life a bit easier.
There will be young men and even older gentlemen who pay you too much attention too soon. Walk away from all of them. Except that first one. That first important one, (you know who he is) is the one that will teach you about what love isn't and about what you should look for in a lasting relationship. That older gentleman will also hold your hand like he means it. Remember the warmth it brought and remember to always be the last one to let go. Whether it is a handhold or an embrace, hold firm. And when he tells you you were important to him and you will be missed, believe him. Know that your presence made a difference, even though it was only for a short time.
Work hard at school and then at work. Never cut corners, always put your best foot forward and be the person others can count on. Pay attention, take notes, commit everything you possibly can to memory. Be on time, stay late and be an example for others. I promise you, you will do well. You will apply for jobs that you are unqualified for, but because of your conversational skills and confidence you will be given a chance. And you will succeed many times over. Never doubt your abilities.
When you meet your future husband, remember that you are young and cover your relationship with a whole lot of grace. Love will hit you hard and fast and you will realize what true love is all about. Do not let your heartache over your own parent's divorce make you doubt your relationship. Your parent's relationship failed, yours will not. You will grow up together. You will be each other's best friend and you will seek each other out for comfort and encouragement. You will love your husband through many mountain highs and valley lows. But your love for each other will remain constant. Do not lose heart. Your desire to walk with the Lord as you walk side by side will be the focus in your marriage.
You will struggle with health issues and bizarre diagnoses. You will see many doctors. Some amazing, and some you will believe should have chosen a different profession. Those few amazing ones will set you on the right path, find medications that will help you long term and perform surgeries that will fix your broken and failing body. It will be anything but easy. You will suffer, but you will suffer well. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Remember, He is the author and perfecter of your faith. And your faith and dependence will grow during these trials.
You will be blessed with two amazing kids, but it will not be on your own timeline. You will wait for children. Do not let this waiting crush you. Spend time with your husband and enjoy each other's company. When they are born, you will feel ill equipped, because you are. Rely on your amazing mom and equally amazing mother-in-law. They will help you, love you and pray for you. Do not give up. Even when you feel completely depleted. Because the joy you will experience from being the mother to Zach and Lily, will overwhelm you. What a treasure these kids are. You will grow and mature as a parent and you will actually be the mom that others seek out for advice and prayer in parenting. (I know this is super hard to believe. But it is true.)
These are all big picture pieces of advice. But there are also a few small things you need to know.
It is okay if a friend walks away. Those friendships were only meant for a season. New friends will come into your life and you will hold them dear.
Hold his hand in public. Don't be afraid to tell him that you love him. Because at the time, you will.
Be the person that doesn't share secrets that were shared in confidence. You will become the woman that is often sought out because you know how to remain silent.
Write that book. Write all the books. Take every writing and editing gig that comes your way. Do it sooner than later.
Love your mom more even when she drives you crazy. She won't live a long life and it is up to you and your sister to make the time that you have with her absolutely amazing.
Stop at every house that has Christmas lights.
Be willing to get caught.
Your work can wait until your children go to bed.
You don't need 16 bins of Christmas decorations.
Always carry a blanket in the trunk of your car. There will be impromptu picnics and downpours. There will be splendor. Let me repeat. Always carry a blanket in the trunk of your car.
If someone compliments a belonging, give it to them as a gift. You will have too many things. You will have all the things. You won't need most of them.
The perfect brand of jeans is from the Kohl's. Sonoma brand. You won't find them until you are 38. Buy 6 pairs. They will fit you perfectly and you will be able to buy them off the rack. I know this sounds like a figment of my imagination, but believe me. You will try on every pair and never find a nicer pair of jeans.
Say no to clients when your calendar is too full. Put your family first. Refer clients elsewhere when you know it isn't a good fit. The money doesn't matter.
Try being less confident at times. You will be a bit overwhelming but do not change who you are.
You won't always get what you want. And 18 is when that starts becoming a reality.
Spend less money on things, and travel more.
Kiss your husband like it is the first time, every time.
And girl, read your Bible. Every. Single. Day.
Remember these things. And know that being 44 is just as amazing as being 18.
You from 2020
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