It’s Future Natalie writing to say hello. Strange to receive a letter from yourself I’m sure, but hopefully also helpful and insightful in a way. So, here goes…
I’m writing to you as a new mom and almost 34-year-old. If you’re reading this, you’re probably curled up somewhere with a cozy cup of tea (newsflash: not much has changed on your beverage of choice), excited to receive a message (though handwritten would have been even better).
When I look back on my three decades thus far, my 20s really stands out. Most people think being a teen is a challenging time of life — and for some, it is! — but early adulthood is probably more difficult for you. Graduating college, starting your first job, finding your place in the world — living alone in an apartment, dating, socializing, all while keeping God the center of it all — it’s a lot to balance.
Let’s face it: you’re a perfectionist. And, to a degree, that’s not a bad thing. As a mom to a 15-month-old, I’ve learned to let a lot go — the laundry can wait another day; it’s alright that toys and books are covering the family room floor — and my advice to you is to try to do that a bit more. Yes, it’s a wonderful thing to get straight A’s in college or get married when you’re 23. But, it’s also OK if you get a B (don’t worry – you’ll still graduate and nobody ever asks you what your GPA was when applying for a job), and it’s also OK if you don’t meet the love of your life until later.
Many people think you need to live according to a timeline (and the perfectionist in you may think you need to do the same). Do such-and-such thing by age 25. Achieve such-and-such milestone by 30. But, that’s a bunch of hogwash. It’s true: life is short and we should choose to use our days serving the Lord to the best of our ability. But, we don’t serve a God who puts restrictions on us, either. He doesn’t shake His finger and say, “What? You aren’t married yet? I’m disappointed in you.” So, you shouldn’t feel that way, either. I’m telling you — skip the timeline.
A motto that has brought me through many tough times is “while we are waiting, God is working.” And it’s written that, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
You may have grand plans — but His are grander.
Don’t worry about the questions you get about where you are (or aren’t yet) in life, and don’t feel like a failure because of them. Most people have the best of intentions and just don’t realize their own ignorance when they ask things like, “You aren’t married yet?” or “Don’t you want a baby?” They care about you, but you don’t owe them explanations. You can simply reply with, “While I am waiting, God is working.”
You struggle with anxiety a lot — and unfortunately as you get older, from time to time, still will. But in those struggles, you’ve seen God move. The job you were worried you wouldn’t get? He provided. The house you weren’t sure would be yours? He provided. The relationships you lost and the broken hearts you experienced? He healed — and provided.
See the pattern?
He has so much prepared for you. Big things. Little things. Amazing things. Moments like walking down the aisle. Bearing witness to miracles in your family. Giving birth. Being a true friend. Understanding His word deeper. Following the prompting of His Spirit.
So hang in there. Wonderful days are ahead. You may feel behind, but you’re exactly where God wants you to be. Trust His timing. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. Enjoy the fact that yours is unique — just as God intended.
He’s already prepared the way.
What Would You Say to your younger self if you could? Leave a comment with your best advice for the younger-than-you set.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.
Awesome blog!! I am loving these letters to self because I think it shows that a lot of what our own concerns in life are the same concerns as others so as you are speaking to your younger self, it is like you are speaking to my younger self and even my older self if that makes sense. Had me in tears and so appreciating your message. God bless you much Sister Natalie.
I never thought I had a “life timeline” in my head until it got delayed! Then I realized what a perfectionist I really was, and I wish I could’ve learned the lesson you describe a little earlier. That way, I would’ve made peace with God’s timing and enjoyed the life He’d given me at that time and worked harder in the stage I was in. Great article, Sister Natalie!
Dear Sister…I would say exactly what you said, except, the younger me drank lots of coffee…the older me drinks tea…the younger me, mother of two, at 31, realized and accepted these truths, when still younger me at 36, became the mother of 4….beautiful twin boys! Now, the younger me, as a grandmother at 57 and primary care giver of my granddaughter, is so thankful to be reminded of these truths…its very easy for others, family, who have no understanding, nor want to take their own role, to make judgements from the bench. But, through this message, was the reassurance that I needed…and, yes, I SO recognize the pattern…lol…this blog is an incredible blessing!!!