Sometimes being 18 years old seems like so long ago...because for me it was! But today, it feels like I am only moments older.
It’s brilliant how our thoughts can move through scenes of the past and bring memories back to the forefront of our minds. It’s as if we are right back in that time. The scents of certain perfumes and the fog of hairspray… oh the hairspray of the late 80’s! Big hair and blush on our cheeks that looked similar to a roadside STOP sign were all the rage. Tight jeans with a big comb in our back pockets was where it was at! No cell phones and the newness of computers seemed to keep us young longer for so many reasons. But honestly, any “cool” memories of that era are bittersweet for me. And for some occasions, this occasion, it’s important for me to revisit that time of my life because those days have helped shape who I am today.
My parents had just ended a 25-year marriage and for the first time in my life my family was out of the ministry. These two factors threw me into the whirlwind of an identity crisis. I was about to graduate from high school with 780 strangers since the divorce forced us into the fifth move of my high school career. So, tired of life and scared of who I was and of what my future held now that my family was all split up, I felt lost.
Now that I’m a “few” years older and have lived through much of my life, what would I want to tell that scared 18-year old? Here is the letter I would write…
I feel an urgency to tell you something: your parent’s divorce was not your fault. The enemy will try to relentlessly haunt you with guilt every single day of your life if you don’t accept this truth. Being entrenched in the sadness of your family splitting up is going to take some time to walk through, but hurting yourself will not heal your brokenness. Remember God is with you! Let him break through the walls you have already put up in an attempt to protect yourself. He will stay with you and will not change just because everything else in your life feels like it is. Fix your eyes on Jesus.
Don’t let fear waste your time. Worry only makes the night longer, so choose rest.
You have so much to offer! So many precious things have happened in your first 18 years and God has gifted you to love others exceedingly! You have always been more concerned for others than yourself, but it’s okay to take care of you too. No matter how down or depressed you are, you’ve got to trust God has you and you need to do something that will only get more difficult if you aren’t so very careful: take one bite of food and then the next. Nourish yourself. Eat dessert often! Caring for your body will be harder than you imagine, but you can do “hard” things, girl.
In college, you are going to find new freedom in being able to stay in one place and not move. Let people get to know the real you, Stace. You are worth another’s time and attention. God is going to give you relationships there that will stand when you think they are going to fail.
Choose the blonde-haired, blue-eyed guy. His name is Doug and God is going to help him love you through so many challenges. He will help protect you for the rest of your life. He is from good people. Choose Doug!
Life is full of hills and valleys. Learn in both places. Root yourself in the unchanging hope of God’s word, not solely in what others think of you.
Claim the promise of Psalm 118.17, “I will not die but live and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” Stake your life on the truth that God has a plan for you! He gave you life so only he has the right to take it. Remember this in difficult times. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and when you can’t see the way, it’s okay. Remember you have always been and forever will be in His grip.
Before I close this first of my letters to you, I want to give you the words of hope that will one day help change your course in life: You, dear younger me, are worth saving. Choose to live in the truth that you are!
I love you,
I’m curious, what words would you say to your 18 year old self?
Meet the Author!
Lover of diet coke and long strolls at the mall, Stacee Goetzinger is an author, speaker, wife, mother, daughter and friend. Psalm 118:17, "I will not die but live, and proclaim what the Lord has done," is her life verse and describes her passion to allow God to use the pain of a lengthy battle with mental illness and an eating disorder to write and speak words of hope, courage and life.
Connect with Stacee at Speakoutloud.me.