As the night winds down, I find myself looking through old family albums, and I happened to stumble upon the section filled with the portraits I had done throughout the years from school, ballet, and so forth, which sparked the overuse of the word “nostalgia.” The more I looked through the photos, it made me recollect on how fast the years have flown by for me as a young woman, and I vividly remember sitting at the lunch table in sixth grade saying, “It will take forever to become a grown up.”
I was wrong; sorely wrong, for the years flew by like rushing water upstream. I went to high school, graduated high school, went to college, and am almost finished with my degree. I even remember the first day of my freshman year of college. Oh, how I was afraid of getting lost, afraid of the class sizes, and I remember asking a guy from Switzerland if his favorite cheese was “Swizz.” The days grew short, and the older I get, the shorter they become.
However, I remember being a young girl who dreamed of being a princess, who played dress up, who cried when she was dropped off at Kindergarten, and who was the girl who sat to herself in the lunchroom. I remember how I would admire the “older kids,” and I would always tell my mom that I was going to grow up to be like this person or that person. Not to mention, I had the dream to marry Prince William when I was in first grade, so I had big dreams as a child.
Here I write during a horrid thunderstorm on a North Carolina night as a young woman reminiscing on her years, and I cannot help but wonder if the younger version of me would be happy with the way I turned out. Would younger me look at me and say, “I want to be like her?” Many of us fail to realize that our biggest inspiration is the younger us; the us who dreamed, the us who wished we could be anything, and the us who looked up and saw no limits. That is the ‘us” that we should remember as we grow older.
The little girl who played dress up is the girl I remember as I continue to seek God, for though that little girl may be grown up, I will one day have a daughter(s) of my own, and I want them to look at me and say that I am their role model. Most importantly, would I say to younger me if I had the chance to speak with her? What would I say to four year old Christina who’s only worry in the world was making sure her dad bought the right flavor of juice when he went to the store? What would I say if I was able to look at her and give my wisdom?
I would tell four year old me that it is okay to be girly, and no one should ever dim her sparkle.
The first thing I would tell her would be that it is okay to be girly, it is okay to be feminine, and it is okay to have everything in pink glitter, because being feminine and girly is something that is becoming less and less known in the world as we know it. I would tell the younger me to wear that dress to school, to wear her favorite hairband, and to bring her “little purse” to church each Sunday because mommy does.
I would tell her that she can sparkle as bright as she wants, for you can never sparkle “too bright.” When it comes to worth, I would remind my younger self that she is worth more than rubies, and no amount of exterior things can make an ugly heart pretty; therefore, I would tell her to make sure her heart sparkles with love and kindness, for a lovely heart is a heart that is worth more than any glitter a person can have.
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”” 1 Peter 3:3-4
I would remind her that true beauty comes from a gentle spirit who is humble, meek, and does not seek to always have to be seen, for God sees what man does not see, which is the heart. I would tell her to focus on her character, to make sure she is kind, and to make sure she smiles to each person she meets, for that is what people will remember a person by, not by what they wear or how they looked.
I would tell the younger me that adulthood isn’t going to Wal-Mart whenever she wanted
When I was a child, I told my mother that “being an adult means being able to go to Wal-Mart whenever you wanted,” and I was quite wrong. Adulthood has its challenges and burdens, but with Christ I have made it through them, and I would share that truth with my younger self. Adulthood is not a “fairy tale,” for it comes with bills, not knowing what will happen next, twists, turns, and even things that aren’t what we expected. However, I would also remind the younger me that adulthood does have some good things within them, and that she should always focus on the light at the end of the tunnel rather than the tunnel itself, for tunnels do not last forever, and with Christ, she can do all things.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Adulthood, in the eyes of my younger self, seemed “glamorous,” for I did not know any better than that, for I viewed things through rose colored glasses, or as Audrey Hepburn would say “La vie en rose,” so another note I would make worth telling her is that though adulthood may not be what we want it to be, she can still be joyful in the hardships, for with God in control, nothing is too big for Him to conquer.
I would tell my pre-teen self that the kids who bullied you end up asking for forgiveness as adults
It is true, many of my bullies have asked for forgiveness, to which I have forgiven them, for I understand that they were just children, and children mature into adults, but I know that the pre-teen I would believe that they were not capable of change. Many days were spent coming home crying to my mom as she consulted me while I was begging to be home-schooled. Being bullied is one of the many reasons why I am an advocate for homeschooling as a young woman now.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31
However, I would tell her that though she feels the pain of the insults, jabs, and hurtful words, she will learn to forgive. Though she feels as if these kids are heartless, she will one day learn that bullies are just broken people who feel the need to bully others to feel good about themselves, and it is more heartbreaking than it is offering, for they are hurting and have wounds.
I would tell my younger self to be the bigger person and show them kindness, to show them that though they hurt you, she will not hurt them back, and I would tell her that all things work together for our good, and God does not leave us in turmoil, but He places our feet on solid ground, and though I did not accept Christ until I was almost thirteen, I would tell her that she’s about to enter an amazing relationship that will not only save her soul, but it will bring her indescribable joy, hope, and peace.
To the pre-teen Christina that once was, I would tell her that she is not what those kids describe her, but she is more than that. She was made in God’s image, she is valued, she is loved, she will overcome the bullying, and she will become a young woman who is not defined by the bullying, but is defined by the good that is found in Jesus. To her, I would tell her to keep her head up, to keep a smile on her face, and to press on, for she will overcome, and she will be strong.
To the high school freshman I was, I would tell her to leave the perfectionism to God.
“As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;”” Romans 3:10
My freshman year of high school was a battle for me, for I was a perfectionist who had to make straight A’s, and if I did not make straight A’s, I would be highly disappointed with myself. I was the girl who would ask my teachers for extra credit even if I was making a 95 in the class, for I wanted to make an even better grade; therefore, I was a girl who wanted to be “perfect,” who was a “goodie two shoes,” who did everything by the book, and who did not dare do one thing wrong.
Yet, she was not perfect. My walk with Christ was still very new as a freshman in high school, and my perfectionism was something He began to convict me of right away, and thankfully, it was squashed very quickly, for I had realized that I do not have to be perfect, for Christ was the only perfect man.
To the me who cried in her room over studying too hard to where her brain was exploding, I would tell her to take a break and breathe. I would remind her to be still and know who is in control, and I would remind her that it is not her job to be perfect, for Christ did that when He bore the sins of the world on His shoulders. Christ died for our imperfections, He died for our flaws, and He does not want “perfect robots,” for a robot is incapable of love, but a flawed person is able to love recklessly.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”” Romans 5:8
It is okay to make a B on a test, it is okay to not know what is happening, and it is okay to mess up, for we learn the most in our failures and mess ups; therefore, to my younger, freshman self, I would remind her to find solitude in Christ, for He is the only one who is perfect, and she never will be, which is okay, for in her imperfection, Christ thought she was worth dying for.
To my sixteen year old self, it is okay if you do not have a boyfriend, for you only marry one man
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1
If the sixteen year old me were to know that her twenty-something year old self still hasn’t had an “official boyfriend,” she would probably assume that she would be an “old maid.” When I was a little girl, I had a timeline in my head about love. I wrote down that I would have my first kiss in the rain on my sixteenth birthday, I would marry a tall man at eighteen, and have a little girl by 19. Yes, four year old me had this plan, and though none of that has happened yet, it is okay.
Sure, I might be a single woman who has never officially dated, but I will only marry one man, so why worry, and I would tell my younger self the same thing. I would tell her that she was sixteen and not to worry about the boys around her, for she would not see them again after graduation. I would remind her to continue to grow in Jesus, to continue to fall in love with Jesus, and to continue finding out what godly dating is through books, sermons, and through the godly example placed before her in her parents.
I would also remind sixteen year old me that God is in control of our love stories, and it is on His timing that things come into place, not ours, so I would encourage her to not worry about how other girls are on their fourth boyfriends, for they will not last, for what is important is seeking Christ and seeking a godly relationship, and you cannot find that with everyone, so never settle for less, for we are worth more than rubies.
To my younger self, these are the things I would say as I sit here listening to the light tapping of rain against my window. My coffee induced brain has more words to say, but though there are many things we wish we could tell our younger selves, we will never be able to fully say all that we could, for we are constantly growing more into the person God wants us to be.
Growth takes time, and to flourish into the person God wants us to be takes both rain and sunshine to grow. In ten years from now, I am quite sure I will have things I would want to say to the woman I am now, and the trend can continue, but as I look through these photo albums, I cannot help but remember the girl I was throughout the years, and if I could go back and talk to her, I would, for the woman she is becoming, is a woman who seeks truth, who writes truth, and who reads truth, and so as I close the photo albums and end this post, I will not forget the feelings, thoughts, and memories of my younger days, for those some things brought me closer to God and taught me lessons that I am now writing here today, so to my younger self, it is all going to turn out okay, for God says it will.