I’ll never forget one of the most pivotal moments in my life.
My husband had taken a position in Oklahoma, after we felt the need to be closer to our families. We thought it was what we wanted. Though it might have been, it wasn’t what God had planned for us at that time. And because of that, our spirits were unsettled, or rather, stuck on spin cycle.
My mom and I planned a trip that summer, with my kids, to see my sister and her family in Omaha. The nine hour drive there and back were much needed therapy sessions. On our way home, she said something that shocked me:
“Crystal, we don’t need you.”
It literally took my breath away (and does even now). For a moment her words paralyzed me. Until I realized that it was something I’d needed to hear for years.
I had always been the Fixer. I was wired that way. I became the oldest child by default at age 1 1/2, when my three year old brother drowned. Over the years, I treated my younger siblings like my own children, even as we grew older. When my husband and I moved away to take a full time ministry position, I felt like I was abandoning them. I wasn’t sure how anyone would survive without me there to help them live their lives. It sounds so funny to admit out loud. But it was true.
And there I was, with three kids of my own… a husband in ministry… my own family, our own share of ups and downs. Yet, I couldn’t let go of trying to be the band-aid for everyone else’s problems and heartache. It was exhausting, and I was torn. And after those four words spilled from my mom’s mouth, I felt a weight fall from my shoulders. So weird that they don’t need me to survive… and yet… thank God! It still stung a bit, and I had to ask God to help me process the reality of what it meant.
It was a freeing truth, to say the least. I’m forever grateful to my mom for helping me lift that burden from my back. My only wish was that I would’ve stopped long enough to hear that truth sooner… younger, maybe.
It’s #livefreeThursday over at Suzie Eller’s place, and today we’re talking about what advice we would give to our younger selves, if we could do so. What would I have said to my younger self? Oh my, there is not enough room on this page. As it turns out, it’s not that different than the advice I strive to remember everyday, in my present life:
Turn your eyes to Jesus.
Slow down, baby girl! You’ve got the world on your shoulders, and it’s pretty heavy. Stop trying to balance it alone. You know the One who wants to carry it for you… yep, Jesus. Look to Him.
You’re tired of being the good girl because “they’re” talking. Let them talk. In twenty years or so, they’ll wish they’d followed the same path that you’re struggling to stay on. Trust me on this one. Go back to church. Yes, you need the money from work. But a night off isn’t going to kill you. In fact, not taking a night off might. There’s a nervous breakdown in your near future… slooow down. Breathe. Soak in these years; it’s okay to have fun! You can’t do it all. And guess who doesn’t want you to keep trying? Jesus.
I know, life is hard. For the record, there are new bumps and crossroads on every leg of this journey. The scariest and most trying times have yet to come. But God is with you. He is faithful. And guess what? It’s okay to not be okay. You are not going to hurt anyone by admitting this. Really, talk to someone. You define your strength in suppression. Know that strength is truly found in admission… in surrender. Take off this mask now… it’s going to be a lot harder to remove down the road.
All of the fantasies that you have of what your “perfect” life will look like in “so many years”…. just stop already, honey.
Many Most of them will look nothing like that, and IT IS OKAY! You heard me… it’s okay. Move along from that…. your life today is beautiful and crazy and nothing like you ever imagined, but even better. God has way bigger dreams for you, anyways. And trust me, you will want to follow them! Yeah, I know you feel them, way down deep. You’re pushing them aside because they’re insane. You think that people have certain expectations of you, which don’t include those dreams. They’ll get over it! Those are the God-sized dreams, baby girl! Go! Hey, remember when you were little bitty, and used to pretend that you were a preacher? Just wondering…
Oh yeah, guess what? Your momma doesn’t need you to be her momma! And neither do your siblings, your dad, or anyone else for that matter! Well, until you have your own kids, that is. Cool, huh?! You know what that means? You can relax a little!
You don’t have to be perfect. Now, pick yourself up off the floor. This is for real. In fact, there’s no such thing as perfect… who knew?! Stop. Trying. Right. Now. The whole world isn’t watching you, waiting for you to fail, and they aren’t expecting you to save their entire planet, either. Someone already has that job. You know where I’m going with this… Jesus. Remember those beautiful moments you had with Him at camp? At church? Cling to them. Oh my goodness, I know it’s hard, but don’t let go, babe! You end up embracing that there is beauty in imperfection anyways; save yourself the heartache and give it up now.
One day you’ll realize that you don’t need to appear to have it together all the time. You’ll have kids (who are crazy, but incredible), and the need to be a perfect mother and wife will tear you apart, because it’s just not possible. And again, that’s okay. Trust that God has everything in His control. Which is exactly where you want it to be, I promise. He’s bigger. And you know what? He’s not waiting for you to fail either, only to strike you down. That’s nonsense. Go grab your Bible. Look up scripture on Grace. Learn it; embrace it; live it.
Jesus loves you, and not just because the song says so. God is LOVE! Oh my goodness, YES! It’s true! There is absolutely nothing you have done, or will ever do, that will ever cause Him to stop loving you. Furthermore, stop exhausting yourself trying to gain His love. He loves you just the way you are. I know, it’s crazy. But it’s true! He is a loving God, and He wants to be the Daddy that you need in this very moment!
Don’t start down that destructive path, sweet girl. Don’t wander away. Focus. Take care of yourself. Rest. Learn now how to forgive. You’ll need it. Learn how to love unconditionally. You’ll need that, too. Pray. And then pray some more. In fact, take all of that worry and hand it right over to God.
Turn your eyes to Jesus. Live. Yes, beautiful girl… let go… and LIVE!
From your older self,
Crystal Sunshine (yeah, you end up embracing your middle name, too!)
“Look among the nations and watch. Be utterly amazed, for I am going to do something in your day that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5
Honored to be linking up with Suzie Eller today for #livefreeThursday!