I’ve been thinking about what kind of a letter I would write to myself. Not to my past self, but to me as I am now. If I could compel myself with the truth I know but struggle to absorb; the truth I wish would sink deep into my heart. What would that letter say?
You used to think you knew yourself completely. Now you realize that the person you knew was actually the person other people want you to be. You did and said what everyone expected you to. And you believed in and cared about what people from church assumed you believed in and cared about.
There was a place neatly carved out for you in your circle, and you were all too happy to fill it. Your role was clear and you were good at staying there. You were looked up to and even praised for keeping to your lane.
But that’s not who you are anymore.
Now you’re allowing yourself to explore your own viewpoints and needs and beliefs and goals. You are realizing you don’t actually know yourself very well at all.
You want to have opinions and passions, but those are such slippery things to get settled. And you find yourself hiding and pretending they aren’t yours when the rooster crows.
It takes bravery to say “this is what I care about” and to know that your own friends and family may choose to disagree with you. They will wonder why you are climbing out of your neatly carved place. You used to be so content. But you must learn to live confidently in your convictions. Don’t be afraid to let others know what you really care about. You might find a friend in your vulnerability.
Related: Why I Am A Christian Feminist
Take comfort in your changes.
God knows the confused parts of your heart better than you, despite your constant overthinking. He can untangle the impossible knots and straighten out a path for you to walk on.
In all your ways acknowledge [the Lord], and [God] will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:6 ESV)
Sometimes you feel like you are wandering trying to find a new place to fit in. You try different things, find a new job, discover a new hobby. Volunteer. You learn how to pray again, and you pray for a purpose.
Let me tell you something.
You have a purpose, and that hard-to-grasp ethereal idealism that occasionally stirs your soul is there for a reason. The things that make you care until you cry, those are the things that shape who you are. Maybe you push those things down, keeping them safely distant from your heart out of self-protection. Don’t do that. They should shape your dreams, your goals, and your practical plans for the future.
Those are your God-given desires and he wants the idealist in you to rise up and take ownership of that passion. Regardless of whether it fits tidily into the expected feminine mold of how you grew up. That is the person God created you to be. (Consider the lives of Deborah and Jael in Judges 4-5)
There’s no rush to perfection.
You aren’t working at your dream job right now, and that’s okay. It is the season of life you are in. As a new mother making do, you are gratefully working with a family that welcomes your child. They do not see her as a hindrance to productivity, just as Christ doesn’t view you and your Christian sisters as lesser.
Plan and pursue your passions.
Our passions are often set aside for the practical requirements of daily life. We sometimes live in a season of survival and set aside our dreams. This is unavoidable and not necessarily a bad thing. But make a plan to live out the things God has put in your heart in the near future.
Have a dream. Pursue it in real ways in the present tense.
‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and [God] will give you the desires of your heart.’ (Psalm 37:4)
You have doubts and questions about your faith.
Your questions might offend other Christians if you asked them. They are isolating to hold inside.
Do gender roles matter?
Does God give women a voice in church leadership?
Can a Christian be gay?
What if I think science is really cool?
How much of what I’ve been taught is Scripture, and how much is someone’s creative interpretation?
Find a safe space to ask your questions and face your doubts.
You will never answer the questions or overcome the doubts by pretending they aren’t there. Persist. When you find the answers your faith will become tested and tempered and real, rather than routine, repetitive, and superstitious.
Jesus showed mercy to the doubting Apostle Thomas by meeting him in person in his wounded and resurrected body. Thomas’ hands-on experience led to his faltering faith being restored. Those of us who live in the wild present must believe without seeing. Faith without sight. Jesus knew this, and he teaches there is a special blessing for those who persist past the doubts. He will help us overcome. Just as he showed up at Thomas’ house, Jesus will meet you in your doubts. Be honest about them.
You will learn to overcome.
It sometimes sounds like all the shushing voices are mounting up against you until you forget you ever had anything to say. And your own anxiety always whispers “you can’t” and what if?” and tries to keep you quietly in your box.
But the truth is that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) And the truth is that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37)
And the truth is that we have no reason to fear, “for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
The truth is that you are finding your voice
There are people who are listening to you. Your baby girl is listening to you and watching you and wants to be just like you. And you want to make a more gentle world for her than the one you grew up in.
Face your anxiety. Speak up. Learn to overcome.
You can make mistakes, think critically, and ask questions. You can love the ones you’re taught to fear.
You’re an adult; an equal. You are responsible, capable, and valuable.
Check out more from Jenny on her blog, Reloved Revolution.