|It's funny--I posted this letter and then found out about this link-up. :) God-thing, maybe?|
Dear 1980s Laurie,
Grandma H was right when she told you time goes faster, the older you are. I know you'll believe her when she says that, but I urge you to do more than just acknowledge what she says is true. No, I can tell you from experience, you must LIVE like you believe her with all your heart. It seems like yesterday that I was your age, but now here I am in my 40s! I remember when 30 seemed so old and far off. Now I'm more than a decade past that. Redeem the time!
So how can an old lady of 40-something have anything relevant to say to you? Well, because I am you.
Stop being so independent! Break that habit while it's still easy. Grab hold of wisdom wherever it's offered (true wisdom, of course) and seek it wherever it may be found. You have many wonderful people in your life--some that you see every day and others who pop up here and there. You may be well-behaved on the outside, but you have too much stubbornness, pride and rebellion in your heart, where it counts. Yes, dear, always remember that good actions with a rotten heart are as filthy rags--useless, disgusting and not actually helping anything/anyone.
Be more than polite to those dear elderly people at church who always seem to genuinely like you, despite the span of years between you. Do more than smile and thank them for their notes of encouragement--ask them what you need to know. When your parents are doing their best to instruct you in the ways of God, don't be a putz and rain on their parade. It's okay . . . no, it's necessary!. . . to have joy, even when your heart is breaking. Please pay attention to this, young lady, because this information is going to come in handy now, but even more so in several years: Joy is a choice!! Happiness is not always a choice. There are many factors affecting our happiness, or lack of it. Happiness is an emotion. Joy is an attitude! Joy is a choice! It's a matter of who/what you choose to rule over you: your emotions or the Lord. You will need to learn, as difficult as it is, that you can have the proper attitude of joy even when your world seems to be falling apart.
Why? Because it's not your world! It's not your life! You gave it to Jesus when you were six years old. At the moment you believed, He sent His Spirit to reside in you--don't quench this perfect gift! There are all kinds of reasons for sadness, but your feelings don't give you an excuse to rebel against God, or doubt His love for you, or retreat from life, or treat people rudely. Joy, a fruit of the very Spirit living in you, gives you the power, if you choose to use it, to wake up in the morning and declare to God: "I feel rotten today and I barely want to be here! That's how I feel! But I'm giving all I have to You for Your glory. I'm going to do the best I can do with what I've got to work with today. It might not seem like I've accomplished much at the end of today, but I'm going to do SOMETHING for You. 'Cuz it's all about You."
Now, let's talk about your hair. I hope I've caught you before you dyed it blond. Not that there's a thing wrong with blond hair but God did not give you bleach blond hair! If you still choose to dye it, there's nothing sinful about that. It's the discontent that concerns me. And the time you spend feathering it every morning, only to spray that Aqua Net on a style you're still discontent with. I wish I could tell you things have changed. But, at the age of 40-something, only the actual style and brand of hairspray has changed. Yes, it's good to look as nice as you can, but don't make it the main focus!
And, um, you may want to lay off the blush a little! :)
One "main focus" I want to warn you against is boy-craziness! Oh my goodness! I know you well enough to know that you'll go bananas over too many "cute"guys. You're too young! You don't have enough wisdom yet! No matter what the songs say, a kiss is NOT just a kiss. Save those kisses! It's so not worth it to waste them on toads disguised as Prince Charming. There's only one Prince Charming for you, and God will work wonders you can't even imagine in order to bring the two of you together. He isn't who you think he is, by the way. You think you're so sure, but you don't know ANYTHING yet! It's okay--just be so careful to guard your heart. Don't compromise! I'll say it again: Don't compromise!
A few side notes. Get those Michael Jackson posters of your walls! First, and most importantly, there really is no reason to have pictures of someone you don't even know hanging on your bedroom walls, feeding your idolatry (I know you're not worshiping MJ in the way you worship God, but your fascination with him would be much better spent on the Lord). Secondly, well, just wait until you see how his life turned out--and his nose. He had so much talent, but he wanted and enticed people to idolize him, and all he really ended up with was a shortened life. That seems to happen to a lot of people, famous and otherwise. Don't go down that path!
You know that blue and pink eyeshadow combo (from CoverGirl) that you love? Enjoy it while you can because you won't be able to find it in a year or two. It's never made a comeback. Nor have the headbands across the forehead. I've seen a few leg warmers and turned-up collars here and there in recent years, though.
Relax a little. Listen a lot. Be an example and don't be ashamed of what you believe! God does use you but He can use you even more if you'll fully surrender to Him. Learn to do that more now, so maybe it will be easier for you later. Surrender is so difficult. Trust is almost impossible at times. Again, that's a matter of your will. I wish I could say I've learned more in those areas by now. Help me out here! ha ha
Your parents--well, they're just people. You count on them for everything, but they aren't perfect. You will still be imperfect when you're their age. It's difficult sometimes, but don't harden your heart toward them when they're doing things right, because of the pain you feel from past imperfections. At your age, you need whatever Godly guidance they are offering you. I can't tell you, young lady, how many times I hear God talking to me through my own voice as I discipline and correct your future son. Your parents are learning right along with you. You're their first teenager, and it probably doesn't seem so long ago to them that they were teenagers themselves. They have a big responsibility. They're going to fail sometimes. But don't make it harder on them by nurturing a bratty heart.
You know what Mom keeps saying, about your sisters wanting to do everything you do, not because they're trying to bug you but because they look up to you? I know you don't believe that for a second right now. But I can tell you that it's true. I'm sure they don't consciously think, "Laurie is so cool (that's the timeless way to say 'totally gnarly') and I want to be just like her!" But they're watching and listening. They see and hear how you are. Be excellent for them! Don't talk down to them! Don't insult them! Stand up for them when they need an advocate, or just a helping hand. When your sophomore sister slips and falls on the floor at school, don't walk over her and continue on your way up to the Cool Seniors hallway. You're going to have to make a quick decision at that moment. Don't choose the way that will come back to haunt you and cause you sorrow for years to come. You will feel great regret for any mean thing you did or said to your sisters, who were looking to you to be a good big sister. You have mostly awesome times together with your family. Treasure this time you have living together. It doesn't last forever. Thankfully, your memories can!
Lastly, your friends. You might be surprised at who is still your friend at the age of 40, and who isn't. I'll leave that as a mostly-fun surprise, but there is one thing I want you to know. You will have many opportunities to make fun of other people and plenty of fuel for the fire, in terms of others thinking you're so funny or even you thinking you feel better about yourself at the expense of someone else. Don't buy into that lie! Talk about more haunting memories! Just don't even go there! God loves each and every person as much as He loves you. You have absolutely no right to treat anyone with anything less than respect and dignity.
Laurie, you have a decently bright mind and are generally easy to get along with. Be smart about your smarts! Study well! Study God's word! Study your academics! Study things like geography that don't get much emphasis in school. You can study things other than just what's required of you! And use your easy-to-get-along-with personality wisely. Sway people in God's direction, rather than allowing others to sway you. Don't be wishy-washy. Stand up for what's right!
I do so wish I could literally give you this letter. There's so much truth to the saying, "I wish I knew then what I know now." Not that you should know what events will happen in the future, but to have the wisdom . . . it's priceless! Maybe you wouldn't listen to the wisdom of this letter any more than you listen to all the wisdom already around you. That's the problem, isn't it? The wisdom is always there. I have to make a choice to embrace it.
Laurie of 2012