Dear 18 year old Clare,
You have just moved away from home. Your life is just beginning. The first thing I want to say to you is, take a deep breath. This time at university is going to fly by so fast. You’re going to have so much fun, and learn some hard realities as well. Enjoy the freedom that you have right now, and this unique season in life. Here are six lessons that I want to pass on to you, to help you to live these years most effectively.
- You do not have to have a plan. You can use this time to explore your passions. Have fun with those English courses, and even that Quantitative Statistics class! Be fully present in class. Find out what you are passionate about. You are going to discover that some of your dreams are going to change. Don’t beat yourself up for changing course. Rest in the sovereign purposes of God.
- Life will not pan out in your timing. You are going to want your dreams to unfold right away, but you will have to learn to be content in the waiting. Trust that God’s timing is best. And know that just because you will be waiting longer than anticipated, that God still loves you and has not forgotten you. He has a purpose for you, even in the waiting. Use this time to draw close to Him.There are going to be some tears and some wrestling, but ultimately the struggles will be used for great good. Be honest before God. He can take it.
- Please God, not people. God has given you dreams and passions that you are uniquely gifted to fulfill. They may not always make sense to those around you. Instead of seeking wisdom from the world, find your wisdom from the Word of God. Live for an audience of One, for God’s approval is all that really matters.
- Take yourself less seriously. You are going to make mistakes and mess up. It is a part of life. Acknowledge your mistakes and move on from them. They are in the past; try not to dredge them up again! Accept that you will probably always be a little awkward. Learn to laugh at yourself. Also, you are never going to live down the time you forgot your cellphone and it was rainy and dark and you got lost, and had to stop at a random person’s house to use their phone. Move on, and always take your phone when you drive anywhere. And rest assured that technology will improve soon, and it will make it harder for you to get lost… mostly.
- Learn to be vulnerable. This one is going to take some time, as you don’t open up to people easily, but you are going to find people that you can trust. Let them in, and don’t convince yourself that they secretly don’t like you. They want to get to know you. Learn to be honest with them, and let them see all of you, even the ugly parts. And even if you are rejected, you are accepted totally by God, not because of anything you can earn, but because of what Christ has done. Learn to walk in this reality.
- Prepare to be surprised. There is joy in your future. Answers to prayer are going to happen when you least expect them. God is going to give you gifts in the sweetest ways, and you will be blown away. Be expectant for how He is going to answer your prayers. And then offer the gifts back to Him in thankful praise.
Well, I hope these lessons are helpful. The years have flown by, and they seem to keep passing faster and faster. The world’s going to get crazier, but keep clinging to Christ, for He is your Rock and your sure foundation now and for the storms to come.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion; says my soul,
Therefore I hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:22-26, NKJV version
This is a different kind of post than I normally write, but it was helpful to reflect on some of the lessons I have learned, and the ways that God has grown me over the years. I hope that you can relate to some of them, and I encourage you to write the same letter to yourself! We will never cease to have need of His grace, but we rejoice in the fact that we are daily being made more and more into His likeness! He is faithful.