Dear Barby at twenty,
Hello, from twenty-six year old you.
We’re in a sunlit living room, sipping tea, a breeze flowing through your balcony on a lazy Saturday afternoon. This isn’t your parents’ home. There’s a man reading on the couch, and the sound of kids playing in the background. You’re married, with one mini me! :D AND YOU’RE PREGNANT WITH THE SECOND. Congratulations, momma!
This is you, by the way. We still look the same, except for the hair. Yay?
Before your imagination goes crazier, you can sigh with relief that you’re as single as the day you were born, except for some dates you’ve gone on (and had a good time). Kids are like short aliens, and you don’t have any of them. That nightmare with the royal blue wedding dress and Asian Keanu Reeves never happened, but you will meet some pretty fantastic people. Two of your mother’s side cousins have boyfriends btw! Anyway.
This is the first of three letters to us at different points in life. I chose to write you, because this is one of our darkest years. You’re anxious about the future, going crazy at home, trying to study abroad because you feel like it’s the perfect solution, angry, and self-destructive. You believe that studying elsewhere will guarantee you a path to creative success, maturity, and happiness. But you feel hopeless, ugly, and trapped, because of paperwork, insecurities, and the general unlikelihood of it all. You compare yourself to the people you read about in all your design research, and even to your close friends. You feel like you’ll always be at a disadvantage because everyone is moving ahead, whether getting a more well-rounded education abroad, or establishing connections online, while you’re stuck. There are days you feel like a waste of air, and might as well be swallowed up by the earth. You feel like once people know you, they’ll go away, because you secretly fear that you’re broken, unlovable, and unfixable.
Not going to ruin it with spoilers! But this is what I can say: it’s all going to be alright.
Before you get too excited, here’s the reality: some of the things that cause you so much pain right now won’t change much, even six years down the road. You won’t be extracted from the storms, and sometimes the desert will feel endless. Well… let yourself feel the anger, the sadness, the frustration, the pain. God doesn’t intend for you to be stoic. You can be honest, no point pretending otherwise. If you are mad, get some space (explain to mom/dad/Bea that it’s nothing personal and they didn’t do anything wrong), and BE MAD. Let it out to God. Break down and cry, if that’s where you are. It’s okay.
But here’s a promise: somewhere along the way, you will know that you are loved by a holy God, with a love that is real, and personal (i.e. directed at you, kid). You will taste the goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living, and laugh with His sense of humor. You’d never be able to guess how you get from there to here. But in a good way. Contrary to what you think, God wants you to get to know Him, and you will. And that He is patient, good, powerful, sovereign, and creativity in its purest and most intelligent? It’s all true.
You’re not made to malfunction, and you aren’t a hopeless case. There’s no need to continue punishing yourself. You’re actually a funny, lovable person, with a great hunger. Right now, joy is a flat word. But the day will come when you will understand joy, and learn to hope. He knows you, Barby, and He loves you, patiently. Even when you feel swallowed up by darkness, (including the actual kind when you hole yourself up in your despicably yellow room with the lights off, like a creep), God hasn’t left you alone to destroy yourself. He hasn’t given you up to the depravity you think you deserve. God is with you, and He guards you fiercely. You will have a relationship with Him, and get to know Him up close, as you battle the dragons in your life together. It’s the not-Lord-of-the-Rings adventure adventure, if you will, and you’ll be surprised at the kind of dragons you will encounter.
Now I don’t have my crap all together. You’re twenty six, you don’t have it all figured out, and you aren’t swimming in millions (HAHAHAHAHA), or taller. It may sound cliched, but it’s still worth saying though: God has a good plan for your life. He longs to bless you with His good things, and they are what you’ve been looking for. Today, you live in freedom, with a heart light enough, it can dance a jig. There are times when familiar feelings come back, but you’ve learned how to deal with them. You finally understand why the gospel is wonderful, and we’re only at the tip of the iceberg. The success/security of your future isn’t dependent on your ability/connections/good grades, and you have to stop worrying about screwing up your life. It’s actually beyond your control, my little nerd, and the most sensible thing to do is to enjoy it, one day at a time. Mistakes will happen along the way, but there’s no need to be afraid of failing. It helps to have a sense of humor, btw.
Read more books, sleep more and study less, ask for wisdom and discernment, enjoy the company of your friends and encourage them (they’re some of the best people you’ve ever known), be patient with dad and mom (we’re all growing up) and hug them for me, and be warned that you tend to… fall apart, when you take a break from God’s word. Bea knows you eat her chocolate, and even if she’s still not good in taking care of technology, she’s the best sister in the world.
I love you, Barby.
I praise God for your life… Our life, and that includes exactly where you are today.
Hug the little fuzz bum, Pizza, for me.