Monday, 23 November 2015

first love (a letter to my former self)

Hello. I've gone a bit weird and written a letter to myself when I was at uni. 

These days, I'm so tired every day. I think everyone my age is constantly exhausted from dealing with babies and jobs and well mainly just the babies. I'm spiritually just....tired. 

I don't really get to listen to people talking about Jesus because I'm always with the kids at church. I'm the mum with the boy toddler who shrieks if he sees me even glance towards the door, especially if he can hear worship music in the other room. He knows. He knows I want to go, and he knows that I won't if he yells at me. Vexatious. So sermons, podcasts, worship sessions, even team prayer times are dominated by brrroooom cars and crackers and I can feel my brain powers being sucked out of my ears....

But I'm going to be ok, and this is why.

Dear former me,

hello from your future. Our next decade is a bit mental, in the best possible sense. You'll complete your first bucket list alarmingly quickly and then your life will get hijacked by some other stuff. Have fun with that. I know I did (this letter is weird).
The next decade after that one is shaping up to be a little bit intense - I'll let you know how it ends when I've got more of a clue.

You're so young! So casual and frivolous, you don't think you are but trust me honey, you're a tiny girl child playing at adulthood. I'm pretty proud of you but I know that you won't believe me. You've got so many wounds still and I know that life can feel really difficult sometimes, and here's some things that I wish you knew already....
- You're not fat. You never have been fat. Actually, you should think about wearing more slutty clothes. 

- People like you. They really do. They will continue to do so and those girls you're hanging out with? Do that more. They're brilliant.
- That boy you're hanging out with? Do that less.
- In fact, just forget about all the boys and all the silliness of why are all my friends engaged already angst etc (little clue: stop fancying people who don't also want to follow Jesus, it doesn't work and they know it even if you don't yet. Also stop toying with the notion of going out with boys who are absolutely terrified of your passion for God stuff and who basically want a kitchen wench.) Forget it, because in a few years you'll meet him and you'll be so, so grateful that nothing ever happened with the others. Oh, I know you don't believe me and I know you feel awkward and rejected, but just be a bit more patient and then....yum. Believe me. I know you don't believe me. Alright. Carry on. You'll see.

To the point. I'm writing to you to thank you. You're doing things that I am so grateful that you're doing. I know you're insecure and angry and you're going to have to work a lot of stuff out pretty soon but right now, keep doing what you're doing.
Keep falling in love with God.
Keep that anti religious thing you've got going on, 

that testing and searching,
keep praying in nightclubs and being the weirdo behind the bar (no, they will never let you serve drinks but that's ok because this will be a funny story in fifteen years) and slumping on the floor at the back in communion and challenging everything and making friends with everyone and oh, wow, yes. Just keep doing that.

Because - and don't be scared 'cos it's going to be ok - there's going to be some tough things in your future. When I'm writing this, one of the toughest things is how tired you are, how little of that passion you feel anymore. How little time you're going to have to read the Bible let alone go on theological retreats with your best friend. You're going to be giving out everything that you have to the people around you and you're not going to have time to refuel yourself.
Oh, and the religion. I'm so sorry that they're going to try to squish you.

Enjoy Brighton, my friend, because not everywhere is that scruffy or relaxed. Grownups will find you hard to handle and you will box yourself, squash yourself, please everyone but yourself in an effort to keep the damn boat still. Afloat.

You're going to work for fellow Christians for a really long time, paid and unpaid, and you're going to have to wear that badge too. Because you really are one but it's going to get a bit alien - conservatives and liberals and predestined free willed chosen random oh alllllll the labels. You will understand and empathise with so many different people, so much so that you will sometimes find it hard to know what you even think about the things headed 'theology'. Sometimes you're going to be a full time Christian with very little opportunity to hang out with Jesus.

But thank you.
Because you have no idea now, mainly because you're self involved (that's ok 'cos I am too) and spending most of your time prancing around thinking about boys and music....these years are beautiful. You're doing things, unintentionally and just for fun, that are the foundations of your ability to function later. I'm alright because of what you're up to. Thank you.
Do the 24/7 prayer week night shifts. Do the cell groups. Do the conversations and the dancing and the, of course, appalling poetry.
(Oh, and definitely go to Thailand with Ruth. You'll love her forever. God's gonna do some miracles as well, which is fun. Macedonia, too. The Meg girl is wearing the t-shirts with Christian slogans on them ironically, she's amazing and she'll be your first baby's Godmother and you're being an idiot.)

So when things get all heavy and boxed later on, you'll be ok. Because you'll know God as he is: Fun. Funny. Dynamic. Gentle. Honest. Kind. Relentless. Holy.
You'll have deep deep roots, an underground lake fathoms deep to draw on when you don't even know it because this falling in love with Jesus thing that's happening to you right now, it's huge and it's shaping who you're going to be. Keep going. He's doing ginormous stuff in your heart, real and solid. He's got you, He's drawing you in and I am so, so pleased that He is/ did.
There will be times when you will just need to remember the treasure of your past/ your now, and it will be enough to get you excited again. The people and ideas and beliefs that you're discovering now with bolster you, uphold you, keep you safe when you're doing some really hard things.
Now go and dance more. We should definitely dance more.

Love, most of the time, You. 



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