Dear Younger Me

Dear Younger Me,

Where do I begin?

If I could go back and fix some things, let me tell you, I would.

But first I need to tell you, it gets better.

You won’t always be stuck in this place of not knowing who you are or what to pursue. I’m not saying that I know what I’m doing (trust me, I don’t) but I am closer.

You will survive middle school. It may seem like hell now, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.

But I am going to warn you, people you thought were friends won’t be. As much as you try to be popular, you will get shoved out of your “friend group” not once, not twice but three times in the course of middle school. Part will be your fault, but you can embrace your mistakes and learn from them, which is what you do.

For awhile you’ll pray every night to a God you aren’t sure is even there that he will send you a best friend who you can do everything with, someday you will find your place and friends who are real.

It will take a long time, but that little acne-ridden girl who didn’t know who she was meant to be will grow up in time, and she will turn into a strong woman who knows her place and only that it is found through Christ.

High school will be better than middle school.

You will find two people you think are your best friends.

You will have boyfriends together and go to the mall to hang out. It will be fun, you will wonder why you hadn’t experienced this before. You’ll have lame little parties and drink soda and watch horror movies and feel like you belong. Even here is not your place.

People change, and when you give your life to Christ after sophomore year, these friends will continue to pull you away and eventually you are going to have to let go of them. They will worship other idols: drugs, their boyfriends, their bodies.

Speaking of that, you will give something away to a boy sophomore year. It will hurt alot and you won’t think you will ever be okay again. It will, I can promise you. It may be hard to trust men for awhile, I’m still struggling with this, but know that you can hold out for a man on fire for Christ – you are worth that.

It will be okay.

There will be some really good parts of high school, too.

You will make friends, some that may even last forever. You may not always get along, but that best friend you prayed and prayed for comes in the form of three amazing women you will grow close to your junior year and they will stay by your side throughout the rest of high school. Hold on to them.

Musical will be one of those good parts, too. You will learn to be more confident in yourself, something you are probably lacking in. Come age 18 when you no longer have that, you will miss those days of caked on makeup and showers at 1 am to attempt to get the hairspray out of your hair. It will be so worth it. And the summer after high school you will find yourself home alone watching the Sound of Music and crying on the couch because you miss it that much. Cherish those memories.

Band will be even better. It is one of those things that will annoy you sometimes, but you will miss like a piece of you is gone when it is over. When you think about it hard enough, your heart will start to ache and you’ll have to look at old photos to remember every moment. You’ll try out for colorguard your junior year and senior year will be dedicated to it. You will do as much as you can for your director because you wish with all your heart that even though she hides it, she wasn’t so stressed out. At your final band concert, she will even present you with her director’s award and when you get home that night you will cry happy tears because you didn’t even realize that your bossiness and organization was actually helping others. You will meet people, grow close to your directors and have lifelong memories from the mere four years you had in the group.

You will decide to go to college, and your senior year you will tour a few places. One you will love, one you will hate and one you will end up at. You are in the right place, so don’t worry. You won’t know what you want to “be when you grow up”, and it will stress you out a lot.

All the people in your life will be encouraging and you will find your path (hopefully, I am still stuck at this point). You will want college to be a time of learning about yourself and if you persevere, it will be.

Fast forward to today. You will be sitting near the cafeteria at your college, drinking a chai tea latte that you bought at Starbucks this morning and glancing up every once in awhile to see a wall filled with old photographs of former professors. A vending machine will be humming beside you and the sound of students playing ping pong echoes from a room near you. At this moment, right now, you are truly content.

You don’t have it figured out. Not even a little bit. Tomorrow you may not be so happy, that’s how this works. But right now, right here, you know that despite all your mistakes, all your screw ups and your falls, God has got you. It took awhile for you to figure out, but somehow it was perfect timing. That God you prayed to in middle school is real and true and he is there. He loves you and he has brought you to this point.

Trust Him with everything you have. When you are feeling lonely a week in to college, it will be okay to pour your heart out to the only one who can heal it, He will carry you through everything.

Every moment up to this point, every temptation and every tear, every moment you weren’t sure you wanted this life any more, every time you couldn’t contain your excitement and every smile – they were all worth it.

Continue to embrace a relationship with God, continue to be kind to people even when you don’t want to. It will be okay and you will be better for it.

Don’t settle for less or sell yourself short in any way. You are worthy of happiness, whether that means waiting or taking chances.

Dear younger me, it gets better. Don’t give up on God, or on yourself.

You’ve got this.

 

Adulting?

Guess what!

I am officially a college student of three days!

After being in the same school district for 13 years and seeing mostly the same people every single day for just as long, it is mind-blowing to be in a place where I am surrounded by different people and generally don’t know anyone in any of my classes.. The first few days of class, no one talked to each other and I was starting to feel uncomfortable and regret my college choice.

There are 26 University of Wisconsin colleges, half two year commuter colleges that transfer automatically to the larger 4 year colleges (ie. UW-Madison). I attend one of those two-year colleges. This means that I live at home and drive to school each day, rather than the traditional college experience involving dorms and food plans. When everyone in my graduating class was applying for school and planning where they wanted to go, and I decided to apply at Fox, most of the students I encountered acted like it was beneath them to attend there and live at home. When people would ask me where I was going, I began to tell them “just UW Fox .” JUST, because at that point I believed it wasn’t quite as good as one of the four year schools too, and it certainly wasn’t as impressive as heading off to some obscure private school out of state that, let’s be real, no one can afford anyway.

But I am learning day by day that UW Fox is EXACTLY where I am meant to be.

I can pay for my first two years easily without loans and only one scholarship, so joke’s on everyone else! But anyway, the point of this post isn’t to dis other schools or brag about my somewhat savvy financial planning. It’s to talk about how I believe I made the right choice and followed the Lord’s plan.

Like I said, after my final class on Wednesday still no one was really talking to one another. I get it, it is a new experience and everyone was uncomfortable, but I was feeling lonely and doubting if I would make any friends. I am a drama queen, so I kept telling myself I should have just gone to Green Bay (the school I am planning to transfer to) right away. But, I was holding on, because Wednesday after class, I had my first Cru Live. Cru is a Christian organization that exists on a lot of different campuses, and I was holding onto the fact that this would make me feel like I could make friends with other people.

There was pizza (selling point right there!) and some announcements, and then we split up into groups to share about ourselves and play ‘two Truths and a Lie’. Before we even began, the leader of our small group turned to me and asked, “Are you Mariah?”

This is a big deal for me!

I am not an outgoing person, people do not just know who I am. By confirming my identity, she made me feel so important and so comfortable. In high school I was always, someone’s friend, Chris’ sister – never just me.

I know it isn’t a big deal to most people, I get that. But I truly believe that God used her to bring me confidence in joining the group and about the school in general.

This is a new place for me. I know there will be some challenges, I know there will be some situations that are’t fun – even some that I will really hate. But I also know that through the people I will meet and through Cru, I will grow in my faith and this college experience will be about finding myself and who I am in God.

Rock Bottom

I once read a quote that said, “Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover that He is the rock at the bottom”.

It’s short and sweet, but it has a deeper meaning too.

We tend to only consider God’s presence when something good is happening in our lives. Blessings, we believe, come from God and we thank him for them when we pray around our dinner tables or when we struggle to come up with something to say during prayer time at church. 

We ask him to bless us, we thank him for the good things that we have in life. 

Get this, we give glory to God when he does so in return for us. Doing well in school? God’s work. Job promotion, loving relationship? God’s doing. It is much to easy to cite him as the source of our blessings and accomplishments in life. 

Yet when something bad happens and our world comes crashing down, the mindset switches. 

Now if there is a death or a tragedy, we blame God. “How could you do this to me?” we ask through tears of pain. It is God’s fault and all the gratefulness and cries of praise vanish. 

We don’t thank Him for the situation we are in, rather our view of his glory becomes quite the opposite.

It is a common misconception that life with God in it is great, and that life is easier and there is no pain.

Even though we know this to be true, most of the time we struggle to really believe that things could ever really get bad. But the Bible never promises that there will be no sorrow, no death, and no hurt. I have read enough of it to know this as fact. The point of pursuing a relationship with Him isn’t so that your life can be all ‘rainbows and butterflies’, but rather gives you the resources to trust that it will get better and that whatever God has planned for you is always going to help you. 

It is ONLY, ALWAYS out of love. 
So praise him in the storms of life! 

Most people can see God working through life’s greatest moments, but can they see His desire to comfort us in sorrow? 

If He is deserving of your love in the joyous times, He is deserving of it in the times where joy is hard to find too. 

This is something we all struggle to remember sometimes, but God’s grace is proficient in that he reminds us as soon as we begin to slip away. 

Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be your darkest days – when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone” -Rick Warren

Narcissistic Ignorance

“You think you’re so perfect because you go to ‘Jesus Club’.”
“Manipulative.”
“…it’s narcissistic ignorance to assume that my religious views are any consequence of you.”

Words that should have hurt me because they came from people I believed were my friends. In some ways I wish they would have, it would be easier to just believe them.

                                                       But I don’t.

I am never going to sit here and tell anyone that I am perfect, especially not because I go to church or bible study. Why? Because I am so so so so far from it. I lust, I am selfish and stuck up at times. I am conceited, judgmental of others when I don’t want to be. Most of all, I am human and I will be the first to admit that I am unworthy of a relationship with Christ.

                                             That’s the point, though.

There is only one who is perfect: Jesus. “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.” 1 John 3:5 NIV. The cross makes us worthy of His forgiveness and love. Sometimes, claiming that you are forgiven because Jesus died for you sounds the same as claiming your own perfection to some people. If you are able to recognize that you are in fact a sinner who is undeserving of God’s love, then the words of others mean little.

Call it “narcissistic ignorance”, call it whatever you will. If being in love with Jesus constitutes insults then so be it.. There is joy in persecution; it could push you away from God or if you remain faithful it will bring you closer to Him. I, for one, will not let it push me away.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me.” -Matthew 5:11

Guard Your Treasure

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot firm from evil. {Proverbs 4:23-27}

I want to talk about something really important to me: purity.

In a society governed by sexuality and immorality, it is nearly impossible to tell what is right and what is wrong if you are not grounded in the Word day in and day out, which quite frankly I don’t know many people who do, certainly not me as hard as I try.

Today I would like to focus specifically on purity.

Purity covers a large spectrum of values, but the most obvious is sexual purity, or refraining from sex until marriage. As a sacred act, it is vitally important that we remain abstinent for our future spouses and our own well being.

But just because you haven’t done ‘it’ yet doesn’t excuse you from staying pure. I used to know someone who preached purity, but she dressed in inappropriate clothing and did other sexual things with her boyfriend. Am I the only one seeing the problem here?

Purity covers our eyes too.

Looking at another person with lust, dressing to show off our bodies, watching pornography or simply talking about things that are not appropriate that leave images in our minds is just as important. Finally, as the verse above says, guard your heart. By keeping your eyes on Jesus and not allowing Satan to tempt you into impurity, your heart will be grounded in faith. This means praying or reading your bible when you feel tempted, instead of falling into that temptation.
Purity is what sets Christians apart, especially with the world like it is today. We are God’s people, in whom the Holy Spirit lives and it is important to honor God with our bodies and minds by staying pure.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”