The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. ~Anna Quindlen
Dear Future Self (or so I hope),
Over the years, whenever I thought of you, you’d always be doing different things. Writing a book. Tending a huge garden with lots of trees and all your favorite flowers. Counseling young people in your church or campus ministry. Hiking into the mountains to help the natives. Advocating environmental conservation. Watching the sunrise with the one you’ve been waiting for all your life. In every image, you’d be doing something meaningful, something that fulfills your potential and justifies the belief of the people you love. Something worthwhile.
But now I’m learning that there’s one thing more important than what you do — it’s who you are. And slowly, that picture is becoming clearer in my mind. I am gradually understanding the person I long to be — someone who is, in and of herself, worthwhile .
The first thing I see is that you are a woman of courage. Fear no longer keeps you from relishing life and all its possibilities, all its adventures. You are brave enough to take the greatest risk of all — the risk of letting yourself be known. By taking off the masks that you have worn for so long, you let others see who you really are, trusting, as you did when you were a child, that it is enough. Vulnerability is still terrifying, and rejection still hurts, but you understand something that I am not yet brave enough to accept: that anything is better than being a stranger among those you love. So you take the chance.
And you are passionate. You have a fire in your heart that nothing can quench — not even bipolar disorder — because you have learned to let it burn for things that are eternal. You seek God with zeal, you love others with abandon, and you live every moment as intensely as you can. You are someone who is fully, intensely alive.
Most of all, — oh, how I ache for this to come true — you are peaceful. Somewhere along the way, you have come to forgive yourself, as others have forgiven you, for all the times you were less than brave, less than passionate, less than strong. You have come to accept grace not just as a concept, but as a desperately needed and freely offered gift. Somehow, you have managed to wrap your head around the idea that grace really is for you — that you are not disqualified just because you have not lived up to expectations. Rather, it is because you have failed that grace is given, so that you no longer have to carry the burden of your failure. And this is where your peace comes from — from letting go of your guilt, your helplessness, and your pride. Somehow, you have learned to surrender.
Looking at myself now, I can see that I am still profoundly different from you. All the things you know by heart are still only in my mind — knowledge, not wisdom. I am still afraid, timid, and confused. And yet I deeply, painfully long to look in the mirror and see you there, see someone worthwhile. I wonder if it will happen. I wonder how long it will take.