Dear Younger Me

Dear younger me, where do I start?
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you would be one step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running through my head
I wonder how much different things would be

- MercyMe

From the first time I joined the world of online communities, I was a counsellor. The more that people got to know me, the more they would share - anything and everything, even their most personal hell. Though I was not a particularly sheltered child, the weight of so many people's woes was still a heavy burden for me to carry. At the age of eighteen, I heard first-hand accounts of battles I never imagined existing in a Christian walk of life. I heard stuff and learnt things I was innocent of, and I spent many nights lying awake with what seemed the weight of the world pressing down on me. I prayed countless prayers, talked many things out with Mum, and cried in anguish for these precious souls who were struggling in ways a young person was never destined to. 

Though a difficult time, God used it to teach me much about counselling and exhorting others. I learnt discernment in spades, was honed in a spiritual awareness that showed me things about people before I was told; I came to recognize brokenness, to know when and how to use Scripture (a difficult lesson through which I did a shameful amount of Bible-bashing), and most importantly, how to cast the cares I received onto the Lord; to run to Him with all the heavy burdens I carried for others. I am infinitely grateful for how God used that time in my life.

As a result, I can recognize patterns. I've found that throughout the variety of people I speak to, I often repeat myself from person to person. So many people are fighting the same battles, and I am constantly aware that almost every young person I speak to needs the same exhortation. After a particularly trying time recently where I found myself repeating some of the same counsel yet again, I went for a walk to clear my head, thinking to myself exasperatedly, "I should write all my advice down in a single article and just copy it for people who need to hear it, including myself."

Dear younger me I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life?
Or do I go deep and try to change
The choices that you'll make, 'cause they're the choices that made me?
I wonder how much different things would be

As I followed this train of thought, I pondered, "Indeed, what about myself? I'm having a bit of a tough time at the moment with where I am in life and trying to figure stuff out. If I came to myself for counsel, what would I say? How would I counsel myself?" The thought struck me. Indeed, what would I say? If I could write to the younger me, and give myself advice; if I could tell myself what I know to be true, what would it be? If I had to summarize the most important things I could tell myself, my friends, anyone - if it were to be my final exhortation, what would it be? As a result of meditating on this the past few weeks, these are the words I would tell myself, and anyone else who would hear them.

Dear younger me,

My advice to you is...

1. Know Christ, and Him crucified.

And let that be all you know. In other words, get saved by all means, but don't leave it there. Surrender yourself - your control, your whole life - to the One who saved you. Come to the very end of yourself, and in exchange, come to intimately know Who you have been saved to. Don't let the knowledge of God stop at a get-out-of-hell-free card. Jesus did not suffer a criminal's death on a torturous cross just to get a nod from you. God wants to be intimately acquainted with everything that makes your heart ache, and wants you to be aware of His powerful presence in your life. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust". - 2 Peter 1:2-4 These aren't just some cute words. It is the key to a life of godliness full of grace and peace. Throw yourself into knowing God as well as He knows you. Allow His presence and Spirit total reign in every area of your life. Come to understand the goodness of God, and His grace towards you. Be persuaded of His love for you, that a life outside of His will and purpose is no life at all, and let His Word become your knee-jerk reaction to every circumstance that arises. Make Him your home. Abide in Him (Jn. 15:4).

2. Temet nosce.

Latin: know thyself. Once you know Christ, it only stands to reason that you should next know yourself, and that in the context of who you are in Christ. Sadly, knowing one's identity in Christ has become a quaint saying amongst Christians these days rather than a living reality. Don't sleep in the delusions Satan feeds you about what kind of person you are, what you've done in the past, what others have done to you or how you'll never amount to anything. Wake up to yourself! Renew your mind by the Word of God (Rom. 12:2) and be transformed into the powerful man/woman of God that you are! The world will tell you that you can do nothing, but in Christ all things are possible (Matt. 19:26). Get it into your heart, brainwash yourself, do whatever it takes to drive the truth about who you really are home. Come to the point where only what God says about you is a reality in your life. Don't stoop to man's opinion. Don't bow to accusation. Remember who you are, and live like the redeemed, ransomed, saved, whole, empowered, destined, planned, heir, ambassador and child of the King you truly are. Walk it out (2 Cor. 5:7).

3. Live free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5:1). Don't enslave yourself to anything, and live free from chains of addiction or bad habit. Make a decision by the grace of God not to enslave your spirit by your flesh in giving into its lusts; no matter what the temptation. I don't care if it's something as simple as a chocolate problem, or something as great as a sin problem. Be ruthless. Cut it out of your life. Feed your spirit by digging deep into the Word; saturate yourself in it. Hold fast to grace, and don't let go of God's mercy. Position yourself to turn your eyes upon Jesus so that the things of the earth will grow strangely dim. Seek God for who He is, and give yourself to prayer. Become accountable. Be assured that God's love for you is strong enough to overcome whatever your addiction is; He is better than anything this world can offer you. If that's hard for you to believe, you don't really know Him (go back to point #1). Do whatever it takes. Christ did not die for you to always struggle and continually fall to wallow in sin. He paid the price for your freedom so that you can walk in victory as an overcomer of every circumstance. Walk in the Spirit, because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). It takes fighting the good fight, and standing firm (Eph. 6:13), but He has promised you will be more than a conqueror in Him. Don't be a slave. Reign in your life (Rom. 5:17).

Oh, if I knew then what I know now
The condemnation would've had no power
My joy, my pain would've never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would've not been hard to figure out
What I would've changed if I had heard
'Dear younger me'

4. Honour your parents.

Esteem and value as precious your father and your mother, and be respectful to them—this is the first commandment with a promise—so that it may be well with you, and that you may have a long life on the earth (Eph. 6:2-3). We tend to forget that our parents were our age once, and that they lived through the same feelings, struggles, and trials that we do. The very fact that they're still alive is a testament to the experience they've gained over the years. Listen to them. Honour them. Seek out their wisdom, their perspective, their advice. Trust them, even when you don't understand. You will see what they mean some day. Humble yourself under them, and be teachable, allowing them to speak the truth to you, even if it hurts. Whilst I know that not everyone has loving, God-fearing parents, with the exception of abusiveness - honouring them despite how they treat you is a powerful and Christ-like witness. You can choose to be the better person by treating them with grace and love even if you never receive it back. As you walk with the Lord and continue to surrender to Him, He will empower you to do this. The most remarkable thing about doing so, is that though it may never make a difference to them, it will make a difference to you. It will set you free from bitterness and resentment. I'm not saying this is easy, but God will honour and reward you as you show honour and humility to your parents - regardless of circumstance (1 Peter 5:5-6).

5. Fewer friends, more mentors.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established (Prov. 15:22). Make Christ your "friend who sticks closer than a brother", and after Him, mentors. The crowd you surround yourself with reflects the person you will eventually become, so be choosy. Don't have an extensive friends list. Don't allow too many people inside your inner circle but those who will invest in you, challenge you, and exhort you in your walk with the Lord. When you need to seek counsel or wisdom, go to your mentors, and not to your peers. There is an account found in 1 Kings chapter 12, where a young king forsook the wise counsel of his father's mentors and ran with the advice of his childhood friends, and made a cruel decision based on their input that crippled his reign. Friends are great blessings. We all need them. Even Jesus had them. However when it comes to life choices, counsel, and Godly direction, seek it first from faithful older people who you can trust to give it to you straight; who care about you enough to tell you what you need to hear (Prov. 27:6).

6. Take risks.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is (Eph. 5:15-17). This piece of advice is not suggesting you throw caution to the wind and give yourself to every risky venture that comes along, but more an encouragement to boldness in seizing opportunity. Scripture consistently exhorts has to be bold in word and deed when it comes to living our lives, not just in sharing the Gospel with others. Be wise and discerning, by all means, but also make a conscious effort to do things that require risk. Start a difficult conversation with someone. Go somewhere you've never been before. Speak up about a cause you're passionate for. Apply for a job. Volunteer at a charity organization. Pursue a different hobby or career. Intentionally invest in a friend. Begin a relationship. Share the Gospel to a cashier. Not all of these endeavours will be a success in your eyes, but you will learn valuable lessons through them, the most important one being how to trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Your own understanding is limited, God's is infinite. Even if the risk you took flopped in your own estimation, allow God to work through it and bring good out of it (Rom. 8:28). Be wise, and use your God-given brain before you leap, but don't die without investing your talent, for to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away (Matt. 25:29).

7. Do not fear.

Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified, for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you (Deut. 20:3). This is a biggie. Goodness, as a young person there is so much to fear, and so little of it has any grounds. Fears of what to do with your life, what job, what car, what place to live, what calling, what career, what person to marry, what does God what want me to do with my life. There are inward fears, inner voices that chant to you over and over: what if you don't make it? What if it all comes to nothing? What if there is no God? What if there is no one out there for me? What if I fail? What if I'm really not good enough? What if I can't do it? What if I'm really everything they say about me? What if I can't shake this depression? What if I'm stuck here for the rest of my life? What if I hurt you? What if I hurt myself? The list is endless. Yet God's quiet, still, and small voice whispers deep down inside our spirits: do not fear. I am with you. Learn to hear that voice. Learn to believe it. When fear rises, you have a choice. You don't have to be a victim of it. Your heavenly Father loves you... more than words will ever express. He won't fail you. He is ever ready to make the best of whatever mess you cause, to bring goodness out of the worst scenario; to give beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning. When you live a life full of hopeful boldness, for every mountaintop experience there is a deep valley to pass through. Even if you strive with all that is in you to live free of risks and mistakes, pain will find you. And that's okay. Pain is an excellent teacher, if it's coupled with the grace of God. Some of the most worthwhile and rewarding things you do in life will come with some pain, and that will make the victory so much sweeter. Lean on the Lord. Trust in Him. Do not be afraid of what might happen, or what you may do, be that to yourself or to others. Trust God with your loved ones, so that when you hurt them, your confidence is in Him and not your mere human ability to fix it. You are no longer a slave to fear. You are a child of God. Live like one (2 Tim. 1:7).

Dear younger me
It's not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross

8. Remember you are not alone.

And lo, I am with you always, remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). Dear one... you, are not alone. Isn't it amazing what that simple phrase does to your heart? Whatever you have experienced in your past, whatever your present situation is, and no matter what your future looks like, God has been unfailingly by your side. God Himself has experienced grief, heartache, loneliness, betrayal, disappointment, hurt, trauma, despair, agony, frustration, anger, and trial. He is intimately acquainted with your heart, and knows you inside-out. He was tempted and tried in every way we are. No matter how lonely you feel, no matter who abandons you, no matter how many people "don't get you", or fail to understand you, no matter if you don't even know yourself, your heavenly Father does. Run to Him. Where people fail you, He will lift you. Where people laugh at you, He loves you. Where people leave you, He will be there for you. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man (Ps. 118:8).

9. Keep looking up.

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near (Lk. 21:28). We are not of this world. We can't be so engrossed in the here-and-now that we forget to lift our heads and watch the skies. This is not our home. We are destined for eternity, and earth is the practise ground. Be kingdom-minded. Remember that our days are short, and our time here is not long. We have work to do. Let the reminder of Jesus' imminent return urge us on. In times of despair or hopelessness, look up. Focus on Christ and the eternity to come, where the old things will pass away and everything will be made new (Rev. 21:1).

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart, a brand new heart
Oh, you are free indeed

10. Remember you are loved.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you (Jer. 31:3). You are a child chosen of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and He loved you enough to send His Son to die in your place. You are loved by the Creator, destined for His purpose - an eternal place in His kingdom, and in His heart. His love for you will endure forever, with patience and peace towards you. His love is always kind, always thoughtful and mindful of you. God's love is not jealous, or envious. It does not brag, and is not proud or arrogant towards you. God's love is not selfish, for He gave up His very own life for you. It is not provoked, it is not sensitive or easily angered. God's love does not even take into account the wrong done to it. He rejoices with you in times of righteous triumph and happiness. His love will bear all things for you... even the times you yell and scream at Him, He still suffers long. His love is always willing to look for the best in you, to believe in you and bolster you. His love is steadfast and enduring in the difficult times as well as the good times; it remains eternally firm, never weakening for you. He never doubts the decision He made in choosing you. His love for you is regardless of anything you do - it never fades, never fails, and never ends (see 1 Cor. 13 AMP). This is the God you serve. This is your Father in heaven. This is the one Who loves you. Let this truth be the anchor for your soul. Let it be the bedrock upon which you stand; the foundation for your life. Let it be your all in all. It will change your life. And now there remain: faith - abiding trust in God and His promises, hope - confident expectation of eternal salvation, love - unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me. But the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13).

This is my exhortation to myself, and to anyone else who would be challenged by it. May it continue to unfold in my life through His grace, and by His might alone. With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).

Every mountain, every valley
Through each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be
Dear younger me...

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  1. *curls up in this post and takes a deep breath* So much truth here. Thank you. <3

  2. Jasmine, this is incredible...... The truth in your words is overwhelming, it has left me speechless. A very timely post. Thankyou. xoxo

    1. I'm so very glad it blessed you, honey. I so appreciate the time you took to read. :) Love you. xo


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