Dear younger me—yeah, you—the girl in the corner with a heavy heart from striving for too long:
Who are you? And yes, I truly am inquiring this of you because it is imperative this be established before venturing onward.
Who are you?
Where is your identity found?
I can tell you where my identity used to be found:
- Soccer captain
- All-State defender
- 4.0 GPA student
- Leader of the pack
And there are those flashes of snapchats in my memory: frustrations at my soccer coach; too much stress over too much studying; fabricated smiles and fake laughs; midnight journaling with wet cheeks; overwhelming loneliness as friends faded out of my life.
Can you relate?
Ever wonder if there was more?
I am certainly not a philosopher (some days I barely recall why I entered a room). But, I can share a bit of what God has taught me through my struggles of the past few years as a letter I wished my younger self would have received. Maybe I would have listened; or, maybe not. My prayer is that it helps another girl who feels the way I felt, and who struggles the way I struggled.
You don’t know me, but I know you. I know you really well. Too well. But, for now, you’ll have to accept me just as a thought experiment. You are going through stuff. I know. Because I have been there. And coming out of it, I wanted to share with you a road map of sorts that will help the tough times be a bit less weary, a bit less hurtful, and with a few less tears.
Tip #1: Your identity is fastened to only one label: CHRIST.
You play soccer, but that does not define you.
You make good grades, but that does not define you.
You travel on mission trips, but that does not define you.
You help people, but that does not define you.
The essence is this: Your worth is found solely in your Creator.
Tip #2: You will sometimes make mistakes (and that’s okay!)
You will sometimes drive with the emergency brake on.
You will sometimes forget your phone in someone’s car.
You will sometimes inconvenience people.
You will sometimes hurt the people you love.
You will sometimes say something when you should have held your tongue.
You will sometimes remain silent when words are necessary.
And sometimes these blunders will be made repeatedly. (Aren’t you glad you’re not expected to be perfect?)
Tip #3: Stop running from grace.
No, seriously. Your shame thrived by distancing itself from its nemesis, grace. You have to fight the shame. It is what you were drowning in for so many years. Those eyes, averting the eyes of others, those hands, tense in fear of what may result in sharing, and those feet, fidgeting intensely to distract the mind from hearing the love pouring forth from others—this is an oppression that, ultimately, only you can fight. Give in to the oppression and you succumb to the shame, further burying yourself in, well—YOU.
When you stopped running from grace and instead looked her in the eye, your self-sufficiency began to shed as you began to recognize that it is CHRIST who covers your failures.
Fight the oppression.
Bring out the scripture.
Call on the prayers of your people army.
Ask for hugs.
That is your battle plan. Shame, where is your victory? Grace wins.
Tip #4: People love you more than you could ever imagine.
It may not look exactly how you would prefer, but you can’t listen to the enemy spew his lies about you being unlovable. The pivotal idea you must embrace: people love differently.
Mom loves by sending encouraging texts.
One friend loves by writing to you.
Another friend loves by staying up late to listen….
This list is not exhaustive.
Tip #5: God gave you tear ducts for a reason. Use them.
It. Is. Okay. To. Cry. In. Front. Of. Others.
In allowing yourself to cry outside of the solitude of your room, God has broken through the lie that crying reveals weakness. Instead, you can discover a sweet, intimate healing in receiving comfort when distress pours down your face.
Tip #6: Find joy in the simple things.
(And no, I didn’t hijack that from Pinterest.)
Feeling the breeze blow through your hair, take a moment to thank God for that.
Hearing an eight-year old’s giggle, join in the giggling.
Seeing the sunrise on an early morning bike ride, allow your eyes to appreciate God’s art.
His peace—not your anxieties—must dictate your day.
Tip #7: Vulnerability is great.
Authenticity breeds authenticity. You’ve said you want real relationships, right? Then you have to start with being real yourself. People don’t want the plastic version of you. Thus, it is necessary that you ask for hugs, cry on your friend’s shoulder, and share your fears of the future.
Tip #8: You’re a human being; not a human doing.
Be still and know He is God. Right now this may require eradicating your color-coded calendar for a period of time and not controlling your schedule with such a tight reign.
Again, I would like to point out I am not Wonder Woman, nor am I declaring to be the answer-bearer, problem-fixer. That’s Jesus’ job and His solely.
I’m just one who’s been there: striving for perfectionism, missing the mark, and subsequently drowning in shame. And I’m sharing a few anchors that Jesus threw out to me.
To the girl in the corner with a heavy heart from striving for too long:
An artist, writer, photographer, and student of all things healthy, Analisa Holland is a nineteen-year-old who is most content when found creating something new in the outdoors. The only label she sees as important, however, is being Daughter of the King. Her ultimate heart-cry is to further understand God’s grace, how to live in it and how to give it to others.