For the days leading up to my birthday, I wanted to do something different. Three letters. Letters addressed to myself at different points in my life. When life was different.
Today is letter three of three.
Dear Twenty Year Old Self:
I should have warned you. I should have told you what would happen to your daddy. I know you’re going to blame yourself but you couldn’t have changed it. He had too many health problems. His body was failing him. It was time for him to go home. God saw that he was suffering and called him home. He’s not suffering anymore. You’ll see him again. I know that nothing I say is going to make you feel better. I’m sorry.
I know you miss him and I know that no one understands. Everyone keeps telling you that it’ll get better and you think they’re crazy. Maybe you would have listened to your future self – it does get better. Birthdays and holidays aren’t nearly as hard as you dream that they’ll be. Well, Christmas is hard and I know you’ll spend all Christmas crying. On his birthday you’ll smile. As the years go on, these days get easier and even the anniversary of daddy’s death becomes more bearable. Soon it’s those ordinary days that hurt – those days when you want to share something with him or when you just feel you need him.
You’ve spent all summer crying. I didn’t know you had so many tears in you, but when the world starts crushing down around you, the tears start flowing. Let them flow. Let them all flow. Let them flow until you’re not sure if you can cry anymore. Then cry again. It’s okay to cry. Just don’t dwell on your tears. I promise, there is joy in your future.
You’re going to make the single greatest mistake of your life this year. You’re going to cry about this too. I want you to know that I forgive you for the mistake you made. I know you were very emotional and not thinking clearly when you did it. Don’t let it bring you down. Everything is going to work out okay. I forgive you. God forgives you. Now please forgive yourself.
Therapy is good for the soul. I know that you’ve joked about how you would end up in therapy one day and that day is close. You are about to dive into a thirteen month journey and learn more about yourself. You’ll discover things about yourself and your life that you never took the time to think about. You’ll come to terms with everything that happened over the summer. You’ll learn new tools that will help you the rest of your life. Don’t be scared to open up. You’re doing just fine.
It’s okay to be angry at God. He understands. When you cry out and yell at Him, you will feel His presence. He’s reminding you that He is still with you and He will never leave your side. Take all the time you need to be angry with Him. He understands. He knows you’re human. You’re His Child. You will find your way back to Him. I promise it’s okay to be angry with God, so please stop feeling guilty about it. The time will come when you apologize for the words said in anger. Know that God does not hold those words against you. He knows you said them in anger and He knows that you don’t mean them and that you love Him.
Trust God. You would be amazed to see how God is working in your life. I know you don’t understand it right now, but in a few years you’re going to be able to look back on your life and understand why everything had to happen. You’re still going to be discovering what God has in store for you too. I know there are even greater things out there that I have yet to discover. Hang on tight. Enjoy the ride. Trust God.
Remember that your daddy is always okay with anything you want to do. You will question this often. Remember those words he spoke to you. He is always okay with what you want to do. Always.
You’re still strong and stubborn. Not much has changed in this aspect. You’re still strong and stubborn like that five year old and fourteen year old. Your stubbornish and strength are about to be joined by another characteristic – independence. You’re transitioning from one part of your life to another and you will make it. You will never quit and even when the days seem long, you’re strength, stubbornness, and independence will see you through.
Your spirit is not broken. I know it feels that way, but you are not broken. You are a wonderful person who has just had a lot of challenges thrown at her. Your spirit is very much intact, even on those days when you don’t think it is. Remember to take time for yourself. Breathe deep. Life isn’t only about the hard times and I promise there are better times to come. Just breathe. You’re going to be okay and your spirit is anything but broken.
Family will go their separate ways for a while, but one day, you will find your ways back to each other. Your little brothers will come back. Then they’ll go away. Then they’ll come back. Then one day you’ll decide to remake that promise you made each other as kids – to never abandon each other no matter what life throws at you. Mom will come and go and come and go and this will continue. You’ll reach a point with her where you no longer care to argue and you never expect anything from her. This stops you from being disappointed all the time and allows you to just enjoy those moments when you can talk to her.
Maybe I should warn you now. However, I feel there is nothing left to warn you about. You faced the greatest pain you’ll know and you survived. Should I tell you about the friends that will become family? Should I tell you that life is going to work out in time? Should I tell you that you’re still going to be single in five years and you’re going to be at peace with it? Should I tell you about the great people who will enter your life? Should I tell you about how you’ll make your way back to God?
I don’t need to warn you about anything. God will take care of you. He always takes care of you. You are strong and stubborn and independent. Nothing has broken your spirit. You are going to do great things. When the day seems long, just remember – with God and daddy at your side, you’re going to be just fine. Your daddy will be with you forever. He’s your guardian angel now. God never left you – even when you felt alone. He was always there with you. He will always be with you.
Your Twenty-Five Year Old Self