Letter to My 26-Year-Old Self
Though you may feel as if you’ve been dealt the short straw when it comes to love, you were created for it.
By now you have discovered that life isn’t turning out exactly how you planned. Some of it is good — you’ve traveled to Russia, joined an improv comedy troupe, and run half a dozen races (without anyone chasing you!). Some of it is disappointing — you’re single, childless and pretty dateless through the past decade.
I’m proud of you, though. You are ambitious and quick to try new things (even when you don’t succeed). You give your heart and time freely, especially to the one without a friend. As a recovering “tasks before people” person, you now see the value of building relationships, whether that’s hours of sitting in a coffee shop or lengthy email exchanges with someone questioning their faith.
Though you don’t yet have many of the things you dreamed of when you were younger, such as a husband and family, you boldly walk through the doors that open to you. You truly live your reality, even though it’s different than the one you expected.
As you embark on your 27th year of life, here are a few things I want to tell you that may help you along in this journey.
You don’t have to be perfect.
I know you feel your imperfection. You’re not skinny enough. Not pretty enough. Not funny enough. You worry that your flaws are keeping you from some of the things you want in life — specifically finding a godly man, getting married and having a family. And while you imagine this feeling of not measuring up is somehow about your singleness, it’s not.
Let me say this as gently as possible: You are not enough. You will never be enough. In every season, you will see how you fail yourself and others and how desperately you need Jesus. Sometimes life is about making that discovery one tear-streaked day at a time.
Try not to obsess over your faults. God created you — imperfections and all. Some of the things you dislike about yourself are things God will use the most. I know you’ve heard it before, but sometimes it’s in your weakness His strength is most evident.
Always remember that your heavenly Father desires your imperfect love more than your perfect performance. You are His cherished child. He likes you. As you get to know Him better, you will learn that His yoke is light — even in the heaviest of circumstances. Walk in step with Him and you will discover who He has made you to be.
You are more beautiful than you know.
Someone once told us that the unanswered question of singleness is, “Am I desirable?” I know that question nags at you. It nags at you when that guy doesn’t ask you out on a second date. It nags at you when you hear a man describe his ideal woman, and you know you don’t fit the bill. It nags at you when yet another friend gets engaged.
The truth is: You are beautiful. One day, when you have the “mirror” of another human in your life, you’ll be able to see it more clearly. Like the self-doubting woman in Song of Solomon who proclaims, “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys” after her beloved praises her, you will grasp the beauty you possess more fully through your own beloved.
Until then, precious one, choose to believe what God says He sees in you. You are His beloved daughter created in His image. You are more beautiful to Him than you will ever know. Allow God to be your mirror and rest in the truth that He finds you beautiful and delights in your company.
Fight for purity.
I know you feel like an oddity among those of your generation for choosing to pursue purity in your thought life, the things you choose to watch and how you conduct your relationships. At times, it doesn’t feel like your sacrifice is paying off. But as an unmarried woman, a heart that longs to honor God in every way possible is your way of living a consecrated life. Each time you choose to honor God by being different, you proclaim that you believe God’s ways are right and true and best.
Purity goes so much deeper than one physical act. You must never view sexual purity as a trophy — except a trophy of God’s grace. You are not blameless. Not even close. But never let mistakes stop you from fighting for what God says is best for you. It is from this consecrated state that you can most fully receive His love and give it to others. Your purity is precious in His sight and He will bless it.
As you allow God to sanctify you and deepen your trust in Him, you make yourself more available to Him and the good works He has for you to do. The worth of those pursuits cannot be underestimated, but you must be connected to the “True Vine” to accomplish them.
Prepare for the future but enjoy the now.
You know those things you’re not sure you’ll ever have? A husband? Babies? A household of your own? Prepare for them anyway. Make a budget. Go to the grocery store. Use a coupon once in a while. Learn to cook.
One day, you will need to put healthy food on the table for yourself and four others, and soup and ice cream every night isn’t going to cut it. (Though “soup and ice cream night” may turn out to be a favorite family tradition.)
Bless your friends with hospitality. Being an excellent cook and knowing how to make a space homey are skills that will never go to waste. Use your talents to serve people and provide a comfortable, safe place for them. Cook delicious food for yourself and your friends. Some of your best memories of these years will involve bringing friends around your table for laughter, fellowship and good food.
Just because you are preparing for the days to come, doesn’t mean you have to put life on hold. Pay attention to money, but give generously while you have money to give. Take that trip to Hawaii with your girlfriends. Buy the town home, and turn it into a place for the sharing of dreams and laughter.
Though you may feel as if you’ve been dealt the short straw when it comes to love, you were created for it. In your singleness you are not exempt. You have so much love to give, and so many people around you desperately need love.
Love your friends. Offer them compassion and a sympathetic ear. Sharpen them as they sharpen you, through the sharing and emulsifying of ideas. Strive to believe in your friends and to bring out the best in them. They will make mistakes and so will you. Always choose to love.
Love your family. They are a gift. Look for simple ways to encourage your parents and siblings. Even when they challenge your love or seem heedless of it, keep trying.
Love your church. Be present and engaged whenever you go. Plug in and serve. Pray for your pastor. Be an example to other believers. Ask God to continue to develop your heart for His Church — that you would come to love it the way Jesus does.
The seeds of love, service and self-discipline that you are sowing now, will reap a great harvest in the years ahead. Without giving too much away, God’s plans for your future are so much greater than you can imagine. Your trust in Him is not unfounded. So stay the course, dear one. With Jesus by your side, you’re going to be just fine. In fact, you’re going to be more than fine – you will be blessed.
Your Future Self
Copyright 2016 Suzanne Gosselin. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor. She graduated from Multnomah University with a degree in journalism and biblical theology. She lives in California with her husband, Kevin, who is a family pastor, and her four young children: Josiah, Sadie, Amelia and Jackson. When she’s not hanging out with her kids, Suzanne loves a good cup of coffee, conversation with friends, musical theater and a trip to the beautiful California coast.