Dear Nine-Year-Old Version of Me,
Yeah, you, the one sleeping on the plastic pool lounger and thinking about how awesome it is to be a Floridian instead of an Arkansan. The furniture will arrive tomorrow, but don’t get comfortable. This place isn’t the final stop in your life. Far from it, in fact. God has a journey in mind, and let me tell you….the itinerary is long.
You’ll move to another nine cities in your lifetime as far as I know—a couple of them more than once—and put your crap in boxes more times than you’ll care to count. There will be places you love, where you dig your toes into the earth and fiercely whisper, “This is where I want put down roots. Please God, let this be it.” But you can’t, because there are still miles to go before you sleep. However, you’ll learn something from each spot where you sojourn, and you’ll carry them all with you in the marrow of your bones.
In Ormond Beach, you’ll botch your social studies fair project because Seminole Indians lived in Chickees rather than Tepees. But don’t worry, Mrs. Randolph will understand and let you fix it. You’ll discover Tolkien and Lewis here, fall in love with literature, and become terrible at math as a result. Why? Because you won’t be able to concentrate on all those silly numbers when Frodo is taken away from Sam or Reepicheep loses his tail.
You’ll discover music’s your passion and plan one of the most successful surprise parties of all time in Port Charlotte. You’ll hate your parents for awhile for making you leave that warm place where you can set your watch by the afternoon rainstorms, but don’t be too hard on them. You’ll always wonder what might have been had you been able to stay put. But it isn’t the one God had in mind. Look back fondly, but keep going. There are greater things ahead.
Your first apartment in Ocala, Florida will be a tiny efficiency, but you’ll love it because it’s yours. The Murphy bed will squeak no matter how much WD40 you put on it, and while you live there, you’ll make a series of spectacularly bad decisions. Don’t beat yourself up about them; you’re still a forgiven child of God. Oh, and try not to lurk in the AOL chat rooms. ‘Tis folly.
I wish I could tell you what to do about Savannah and the man you’ll meet there. You’ll be crazy about him, crazy enough that you’ll move back to give life with him a try. But the Holy Spirit will tell you to leave, and you’ll be inexorably drawn away like the tide pulled from the shore. You’ll think about it often and ache because you’ll want so desperately to call that port home. But it won’t be the place either. Press the memories like flowers in the pages of a book; preserve their essence and keep travelling.
The man you dreamed about when you lay awake in your pink gingham canopy bed, the one you’re meant for, will be in Valdosta. You’ll marry him, and once you grow into each other, you’ll wonder how you ever managed to get from Point A to Point B without him.
You will experience dazzling moments of joy and become intimately acquainted with fear and uncertainty. You will make friends easily when you arrive in a new place and struggle like hell to keep them because all you know is leaving people behind. At some point, you’ll want to wrap your heart in newspaper and pack it away forever because it’s been dropped, cracked, and nearly broken one too many times.
Little me on that pool float, you don’t know it, but you’ll be adrift in life for a very long time. More than once you’ll wonder why God couldn’t just let you stay put and leave you be. It’ll take you a couple dozen years to put it all together, but He’s got something so much bigger than you think in mind. He’s training you to serve Him. Now, I’m not going to lie to you, God is going to crack you in half to do it, but you’ll survive. And in the end, the dots on your life’s map will be Ebeneezer stones, testaments to His perfect handiwork.
This post is the first Blog Month assignment generated by the fine folks over at Compassion International. Our challenge was to write a letter to a younger version of ourselves, but the greater goal is to encourage readers to sponsor a child through Compassion.
Even though I’ve faced many challenges in life, I can say I’ve never wanted for anything. I’ve always had clean water, a full belly, and a warm bed. I have never doubted that I am loved, treasured, and valued. It may have been in different places, but I’ve always had a home. Many kids in this world aren’t so fortunate, but we can change that. Put a pin on their life’s map. Help them make a new start.
If you are interested in doing so, please visit their sponsorship page and take a look at all the kids who are in need. As the sponsor of four children, I can tell you that it is a worthwhile and wonderful way to help other human beings and make a difference in the life of a child.