I recently messaged an old friend who lives overseas – and then looking back through the message history, realised that it had been five years since we last spoke. Reading through those messages was a pretty weird experience; I’d just moved to London, and life seemed pretty crazy. The messages from those times were hilariously long and over-wraught, with undercurrents of blind naivety/faith, and quite a bit of anxiety as well – because I guess we humans are complicated like that.
My friend’s responses to me were always brilliant, but they are five years old – so I decided to write a little note to myself as Christine, five years senior – and talk through some of the stuff my younger self was worrying about.
Hey, five-years-junior Christine!
Reading through those messages you sent from five years ago, I felt this incredible rush of emotion. There was the feeling of nostalgia for the easy conversation with this friend – conversations I haven’t since had with them, clearly – and a longing to re-establish connection.
But there was also another emotion. As I scrolled through the lines and lines of text that we’d sent each other at this critical point in our mid-20s – both of us having recently moved to new cities, both of us struggling with acclimation, making new friendships, keeping connections with old friends (we obviously didn’t take that one very seriously), and both of us facing a seemingly continual series of career and love crises – I’m struck by one thing in particular.
The thing that shocked me was that half of the problems and issues that are consuming you right now, I’ve completely forgotten about. There are literally people and situations you’re referring to who I cannot remember.
And you’re not just referring to them casually. True to form, you’re writing about this opportunity/situation/person in the most momentous, this-is-going-to-change-my-life language. But I just want to tell you: these things that you think are so all-consumingly difficult and challenging – these decisions that you’re agonising over, because they seem so monumentally important that they warranted a three-volume novel of an email – they actually turned out to be complete non-events. Sorry about that. I feel like that might be equal parts comforting and upsetting to you – I know you secretly love a bit of that drama!
The agonies over whether you should date this guy (the answer, in your case, is almost always “no”, by the way, although I’m glad you went ahead and did anyway), are mostly unnecessary. I say “mostly”, because unfortunately there’s still some heartbreak ahead of you. But I honestly wouldn’t change that. It’s not just that you’ve become more resilient or courageous as a result of heartbreak – although I’d like to think so – but those difficulties and the way that you’ve walked them have literally shaped your passions and dreams. One day, in the reality I’m living now, you will be so thankful for the way things have turned out.
And about these particular ventures (and adventures) you’re contemplating – don’t worry so much about making the wrong decision. Honestly, no matter what path you take on this, things are going to be ok. You have no idea just how incredibly and consistently God is going to show up for you. In fact, you should brace yourself because God performs miracles on your behalf over the next few years. There’s no other words for it.
I’ve often wondered, if I were to go back in the past and talk to you, if I would ruin things for you. I’ve wondered if knowing that particular things are going to happen would make you try and bring those about in your own way and in your own strength – which as we both know, would be a disaster. So, fro my vantage point of five years into the future, I’m not going to go into details. But I don’t think it would hurt to say once again, that it’s all going to be OK.
Because reading those messages and remembering your story – our story – for as far as you’ve lived it, makes me realise that the peace I wish you’d walked more in is the peace I’m being called to walk in now, with the fresh challenges and opportunities I’m facing, five years on. It’s the peace of knowing that I’m held, that I’m known, and that I’m loved by the most incredible, generous, and trustworthy Dad. So don’t worry too much about how it’s all going to pan out. You’re on a good journey.