A Letter to My 20 year old Self – Part I

Over the last six or seven years, I’ve had the awesome privilege of mentoring a few young ladies in their early twenties. In doing so, I’ve used my life—the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly–as a lesson to them on how to navigate relationships, make career choices, etc. Recently, it occurred to me how much I wished I had someone in my life when I was in my twenties to share their wisdom about living and loving. So as an exercise, I’ve decided to take the advice I’ve been giving these young women and write a series of letters written to my 20 year old self. All I can say is…Wow! What a cathartic experience!
Dear Tracey:
You may not realize it now but you have so much to give. To those you love. To the world. To yourself.
Please do not spend this time focused on running away from childhood hurts and pursuing things that please people instead of the desires that you know God has given you. These two make an ugly combination. I know this because…well, I did just that.
You have this crazy thing going on…a mix of extreme ambition and an extreme lack of confidence. The only way I can describe it is… in the spirit you are running in circles; fighting yourself along the way. Doesn’t that feel strange to you? Don’t you wonder why the further away you think you are getting from the things that hurt you, the closer they seem? That’s what I mean by spiritually running in circles. And as the metaphor implies, you can’t get anywhere doing that. You will only end up where you started.
You are a scribe. Deep down you know this. Pursue writing. That is where your passion lies. There will certainly be other things that will need your attention. Your education. Your need to make a living. All of those things, while very important, are a means to an end. Everything you do should point toward aligning your gifts with your purpose which I…we…know now is to serve both God and mankind through the written word.
You can start by…re-dedicating your life to the God of your childhood. The One who wiped away your tears at eleven years old when you met. The One who saved your soul and your mind when you thought the former would be lost forever and the latter would break. Ask Him to take your life and your talent and use it as He pleases. I promise you…you will never be the same. You are a creator…so create! You are a writer…so write! You are a speaker…so speak! You are a servant…so serve! Don’t be afraid of any of it! Don’t get caught up so much in what these things will look like outwardly; how they will manifest. That will likely change year after year. Just know that these gifts are authentically yours. Be a good steward over them.
You will still mess up. Trust me that hasn’t changed in the almost 20 years that have passed between you and me. 🙂 But in this time, you will grow more confident. You will become clearer as you journey through these years. Everything that you learn, every experience that you have…the positive and negative…will be part of your process.
More advice to you:
Feel, heal, and deal with any unresolved pains from your past. They are there. Right below the surface. Hiding in your dreams. Waiting to commandeer your spirit totally. This is residue that will follow you for sure…but you want it to be as a testimony and not as repeated tests.
Hear God. It’s easy to get caught up with what parents or friends or even your flesh (desire for money, acceptance) want you to do particularly when it comes to your career or in relationships. But you need to hear God’s direction for your life for yourself. AND Trust Him. Even if it seems He is taking you off the beaten path. He is setting you up for kingdom greatness…and that often doesn’t look the way we think it should. (Prov. 3:5-6)
Take care of your health. Trust me, bad habits catch up with you in your thirties.
Accept that you are going to get it wrong sometimes. You will fail. You will miss God. You will sometimes not hear Him clearly. Don’t take it so hard. Remember that God’s grace and mercy is enough for you. The beautiful thing about our Father is that he loves us so much in spite of us. He works within our imperfections and still pulls the best out of us. So when you get off course, accept the lesson and press into him. Don’t let Satan condemn you. Don’t let him consume you with worry or shame or guilt.
Finally, have fun. It’s your twenties!! This is a time of discovery…internally and externally. Get to know yourself. Get comfortable with being with Tracey. Become okay with her and all of her idiosyncrasies. Travel the world. Challenge yourself. Loose fear forever and walk as the beautiful, child of a King you are.

Love you dearly,
36 years old


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