“Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business . . . even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought . . . unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy . . . What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort . . . than being able from time to time to stop that chatter . . . ”
― Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets
Dear 17 year old self who is about to commit to a life of faith,
I know that right now you are living away from your family because you have gotten into trouble. This 30 year old version of you remembers how scared you are, and is proud of you for doing what you’ve needed to to while living there. I know it feels like (all) your parents have easily rid themselves of the “headache” of you, but the truth is they are all hurting and broken people too. Not really knowing what to do with a wild daughter who keeps sneaking off in the night, doing drugs and breaking rules. They really don’t yet know how to comfort your hurts and pains the way you’re waiting for them to. They love you, but they are only human.
This is why the good news of the Gospel presented to you has rocked your world. This Jesus who has come calling, wooing you, becoming more and more real in your life…He is the real deal. Compelling you to see your life as a valued piece of a bigger picture. WHAT?! Yes, YOU. I know your mind is struck by the God of the universe, knowing your name! Caring for you, closer to you than your own breath. For the first time in your young life you realize you are not a nuisance, or accident, but beloved. That Jesus would willingly die in your place, to make a right relationship for you and your Heavenly Father. Willingly pay the price for the wrongs done to you and the wrongs you have done to others…mind blowing.
At this time “sin” is simple. You can pinpoint what sin in your life has looked like. It is obvious. The partying. The wanting to continue partying. The obvious things that seem sinful at 17. I know that the choice to turn away from this is huge for you and it seems at that point your life is changed and you are on the good road to being a good Christian.
This is where I want to warn you. Please don’t forget this wonder and romance you have felt in this time of meeting your faith face to face. The mundane of the churched life and a life before you of different ministries will start to chip away at the poetry of it all that beckoned you in the first place. God is a gentleman, He will not force or shout or MAKE you sit and spend time with him…He waits for you. The sin in your life is sneaky…it will ensnare you every time. You will have to turn away from it again and again and again, there is no ending point. You do not have the strength for it, you must ask for His help. There is no road to being a good Christian, there is no such thing. There is no ending point to your life being changed and transformed. It is constant. There is only surrender.
People are going to try and tell you who God is. What His plan is. What you should be doing. What the bible says and specifically what it means. What the consequences are. You will be confused. God will not seem like the one you’ve come to know. It will make you angry. Because people will let you down. All of them. Some worse than others. The dreadful truth is YOU will let them down too. You will make many mistakes and judgements. But I tell you, press forward! Learn from them. Be humble. Be quick to forgive and seek forgiveness. Be willing to own your mistakes. You are prone to hold grudges…get that Italian temper under control girl!
The things that seem really big, are not. God is who He says He is.
Do not let other humans rob you of the wonder you have found in your faith.
There are many joys and pains. The future will most certainly be wobbly sometimes but you have great things ahead, I promise. But, there will be many times when you choose to turn to empty things and/or people for comfort. Above all of it, always come back to this moment…this choice you’ve made. To jump into a new life. To embrace faith and wrap it around you like a warm blanket.
You’ll have to choose it again and again, so don’t become so bitter that you toss it off to the side. Just relax, and let God tend to His business.
Your 30 year old self