My Dear Rachel,
It’s me, your 20-year old self (and if you’ll notice the date, I’m about to turn 21! I remember when double-digits was the milestone to live for…it’ll come soon enough, and in the meantime almost-nine is pretty great too.). I didn’t realize how much I would miss you!
I do, though, so I’m back – here to offer some words of advice about faith, love, and Christ.
You still fall asleep praying, right? Keep doing that, you’re doing it right. “Pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us, and you’ve got it down. Don’t worry about getting on your knees or folding those hands – God hears you wherever you are, and praying is one sure-fire way to keep the bedbugs from biting. I know you worry about praying “right”, using the right words, the right tone of voice, at the right time of day, but you really don’t have to. God will listen no matter what. If you still feel self-conscious about praying though, pick up that “My Prayer Book” (you know, the little red one in the rolltop desk? It was Dad’s when he was little and he’ll let you use it) and flip through it. You’ll find some really cool ways to ask God for help.
Singing “Hide ‘Em in Your Heart” songs at the top of your lungs is a way to praise God – keep doing that! You’ll remember those songs for the rest of your life. And guess what? You don’t have to worry about having our many Hide ‘Em in Your Heart tapes changed into CDs for your future kids (don’t even roll your eyes, you’ve been worrying about that since you got your first CD!) – they will be online a long time before you have children of your own to share them with (and since I found them on Spotify, I’ve belted out my fair share of Galatians 5:22 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11; they never really left my heart).
Love your body. You have a beautiful young body, and don’t let Alex tell you otherwise in fourth grade (you’ll be in double-digits by then! Congrats!). Remember that God made you in His image and you are perfect just the way He made you, regardless of how fast you have to switch from a training bra to a real bra. Step away from that mirror, stop zeroing in on your pores, and get out and play!
Keep dancing and believing you will be a ballerina with all your heart. I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but just know that some day…some day your body won’t work as well as it used to. You’ll adapt, you’ll move on, and you’ll be just as happy, but take the time now to dance your heart out. Dance like no one is watching, Rach.
Actually, I take that back. Dance like only Jesus is watching, and let that comfort you all the way through your life.
On that note, it’s ok that sometimes being a Christian won’t be as comforting as everyone says. That doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human! It’s ok to ask hard questions about God and the Bible, and it’s ok to not believe everything Pastor Wendy says just because she’s the pastor. In fact (you’re going to love this), God wants us to ask questions and test out His Word for ourselves – it says so in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Proverbs 3:5 ends: “…never rely on what you think you know.” See? I’m telling you, you’re doing this Christian thing right. I know you do your best to abide by God’s commandments and I know that sometimes it’s harder to do the right thing than others, but God has given you a really good sense of right and wrong. Even when you feel as if you don’t belong, you are still a child of God. Jesus is watching over you and loves you. Just keep talking to God, listening, and reading His Word – stay curious! God will give you the answers, I promise.
Now if you do that, I’ll be in a different place, and I’m ok with that! I’ll let you in on a little secret: for a long time, I lost touch with Christ (oh, don’t worry – you’ll soon have a great Sunday School teacher who will explain the Trinity because you will raise your hand in front of the entire church and ask about the difference between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Don’t cry when people laugh! [but it’s ok to cry, even when you’re big!] They only laugh because they wondered about that too and remember how wonderful the answer is. You’re not alone.). I lost touch with Christ because I couldn’t get in touch with Him for one reason or another. You’ll soon discover that Mom and Dad are humans too, and that their faith is not as rock-hard as you thought, and that will send your world spiraling. Please try not to let that discourage you, and just keep reading your Bible and praying unceasingly – that would make me that happiest gal in the world (ok, that was a teensy spoiler, but it happens soon anyway).
I’ll make a long story short: college comes and you miss church, so you join the church choir and pour your heart out through song. Not long after that (a few weeks ago my time, actually), you’ll finally get back to praying until you fall asleep and God will speak to you in the most remarkable way. It makes my heart soar just thinking about it. And now I’m back, you’re back (because trusting God to guide you is a lot like being eight years old again – I am His child, after all!), and I’m truly, truly happy. I am blessed and guided and humbled.
One more very, very important thing: Turn all your worries over to God. He can handle them much better than you can, believe me, and it’ll save us both a lot of heartburn if you stop worrying in favor of letting God take over.
I miss you, but I’m remembering how to be like you more and more each day.