Letters To Me

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Life is so funny. One day you are great, the next you’re not. Seasons change in a split second. Sometimes they last a month, sometimes a year, and sometimes they never seem to end.

I’ve tried to figure it out, like there is some algorithm for which days are going to be good ones and which are going to be… not so good. I’ve been in the midst of a more difficult season of life for a while now, and I knew there was nothing I could do to make it better or fix things happening around me.

Those were lies I told myself for the past 138 days and believed—that I couldn’t change anything, because I did not have that power.

Back in July, while I was attending a writer’s conference, one of our instructors had us write letters to our future selves. She took them and told us she would mail them out in October.

October came and went and I waited for the letter; it never came. I forgot about it.

The past couple of weeks I have felt something inside of me telling me to keep going, despite the fact that it was hard, and despite the fact that I had given up on myself and despite the fact that I honestly didn’t care anymore. I saw the days unfold in front of me and I felt a new season, a season of change, approaching.

Thank God, I thought to myself.

I had been so anxious after having that initial feeling; I wanted a sign—I wanted to know I could trust my own intuition.

On a Tuesday evening, I walked into the kitchen and saw a letter with my name on it sitting on the table. It was in an ivory, card-sized envelope with no return address, a pink rose stamp, and a seal from a post office in Denver, Colorado.

As I picked it up, confused, I said aloud, “Who would send me a letter in Colorado?”

I looked at the handwriting on the address line, and it felt so familiar.

In a split second, I knew: it was mine.

This was the letter I had written to myself, the one I had waited expectantly for all October. But now that it was in my hands, I was filled with an overwhelming fear. I couldn’t open it. When I had written the letter, I was in a great season of life, and I remember having felt so joyous and peaceful as I took my pen to the paper—like I could achieve anything.

What if I had written goals, dreams, or aspirations that had long been left behind? What if I had failed myself? What if I let me down? I was so afraid of not meeting the expectations I had for myself 138 days ago; I put the envelope, unopened, in a book, closed it, placed it on my shelf and walked away.

Wednesday, I was sitting at my desk reading an article, and a quote on the page stabbed me in the heart, because I knew it was meant for me.

“Today, will you choose courage or comfort? You cannot have both. There is nothing comfortable about being brave with your life.”

Ugh. Brené Brown and her convicting words made me feel guilty

But I knew she was right.

I got up and went to the bookshelf, then (admittedly, somewhat reluctantly) opened the letter. To my surprise, I hadn’t written this letter to myself after all—I had written it to God.

This next part, I debated sharing, but decided that sacrificing my own vulnerability was necessary to claim a spirit of bravery and blatant honesty, and to tell a complete and true story.

The letter read:

Dear God,

I surrender my expectations. I surrender my thoughts and feelings on how the outcome should go. I know you are always working in the meanwhile. I give up trying to be perfect, because I am like you, but I am not you. I give up trying to plan out my future. I give up trying to write my own story; you have already written it for me, to me, and delivered my life, and I do not need to be the author of that story. I surrender control and I surrender laziness, I surrender sin and I surrender anger and frustration that comes from my own unmet expectations about college, money, love, writing, travel, family, and life. Help me to live in the story you wrote for me so long ago, because it is so much sweeter than the one I am trying (and struggling) to write. I am nothing—a blank page, waiting for the words to be typed and the story to form. I have hope because I know all you have to do is move a finger.

I was worried about expectations I had already surrendered. Those lies I told myself before seemed really silly, because I realized the only thing that had to change was my fearful, hopeless, bitter attitude. God would take care of the rest, because it was in His hands. I just got tired of the waiting, and gave up on what I thought He was going to do—what I thought He should do.

Waiting is excruciating. But God’s timing is perfect.

I wanted to be successful and I wanted to write this a long time ago, but I didn’t have all the pieces to do so. If I would have ignored that feeling to wait and done what I wanted, this story would be incomplete. Not knowing what is coming next, or why God makes us wait for things, like I waited for my letter, can be painfully hard, but I have learned to see the experience as more of a blind adventure, one where I am forced to rely on Him at every turn.

On the other side of my letter was a verse: Hebrews 12:1-2.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seared at the right hand of the throne of God.”

That verse brought to mind a few others—the verses that say “He is good”, and “Trust in the Lord”, or “Wait on the Lord”… and my personal favorite, “Be joyful through trials and tribulation”.

The thing is, when life is going good, it’s easy to say that He is good, and that you trust Him, and are patient and joyful. But when things aren’t so good, He may not seem so good, and we may not feel like trusting anymore or waiting for Him to fix things—and we (or least I) definitely did not feel like being joyful.

I have to remind myself daily that I trust a God who allows hurt. And if I only have patience and hope and joy in the good times, then I don’t really trust God. Part of me wishes I could forgo the hardest days of life, but another part of me loves to see how God takes all of these broken pieces and creates something new and holy, and beautiful.

Not long ago, I heard someone say that allowing God to break the thing you are clinging onto so tightly is the best thing you can do, because when something breaks, it multiplies. When we give things over to God, he is able to do more than we ever imagined, to multiply the gift.

Breaking hurts by nature, but letting God break my expectations, actually made it a lot easier for me to achieve the things I wanted, and to have a joyful mindset about it. I know that in the midst of hurt, rejection, depression, and tragedy, the last thing anyone wants to hear is that they just have to trust blindly.

It seems irrational, but that is exactly what faith is: trusting blindly. The important thing to remember is that even when we grow tired of being faithful to God, God is always going to be faithful to us, and he will show up, even if it isn’t in the way or time we expected. He will send your letter, so keep waiting—hopefully, joyfully, blindly… faithfully.

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