18) If you could have a conversation with yourself in high school, what would you say?
I know what I would say because it was a conversation I had at a retreat this weekend (which is why the posts dried up and maybe I will catch them up; maybe not).
She was wrapped in hipster garb the way I was wrapped in grunge in 1993. When she stated her purpose for being at the training retreat, she quoted line after line of buzz-phrases because that is what we are “supposed” to say.
I’m here to find myself. To deepen my relationship with God. To find out his purpose for me. To have a greater understanding of Him.
None of those are bad in and of themselves but they are bad when one uses them to gloss over what the real questions are and to hide the real feelings beneath. She started the weekend hidden in a bulky cable knit sweater and huge scarf – hiding the same way I hide. By the end of our time together, she wore a sweater when she was chilled – not to hide.
Another girl was (maybe still is) so full of rage and hate at the world that it almost breeds her indifference to it all. She sat most of the weekend with folded arms and crossed legs refusing to open up to anyone even a little. Finally late Saturday, the walls started to crack. The tears flowed but I can’t say that she fully understood the swirl of emotion going on around her.
I look at them both and see so much of myself. So much self-doubt, self-hatred, loathing, anger, self-pity… I said this in bits and pieces but a fuller picture of what I would say to them as I would also have said to my 18 year old self:
The world is cruel. No doubt about it. You already know that. People have made fun of you for how smart you are, for what you look like. Your parents divorced, robbing you of normalcy and security. You think that there is a standard that you have to meet to have people like you.
You have to be pretty enough.
Dress a certain way in order to have people accept you.
Think about it, dear one – if you have to be THAT way, you aren’t you.
If you put on the veneer of others expectations, you lose all that is special about you. Your quirks, your humor, your beauty.
I want you to know… I want you to believe and PLEASE really believe it… Believe it when I tell you – you are beautiful.
You have worth and value beyond measure.
You are a Child of God – loved so much by the Creator of the Universe that He died for you. Just you. Only you.
You are better than you think. You have talents you’ve not begun to tap – don’t let them whither because you are scared.
Punch fear so hard in the face you break its nose the way you want to punch a hole through that wall because you are so angry and scared that you don’t know what to do with all of the emotions inside.
I know, love – you are terrified to feel. You are so terrified that you will be hurt that you put up such walls to protect yourself from even yourself. I know. I know. I know.
I was there, too.
Stretch out your arms and open your heart to the sky. See the world for its beauty, its pain, its majesty. The Emperor told Luke to let the hate flow through him back there in Return of the Jedi. When you feel it – feel it and then move. When it moves, it can move out and away. Replace the emptiness with love. Love for others. Never be afraid to give.
Open yourself to infinite possibilities. Just because you may think you only have 2 options because those are the only 2 that might work doesn’t mean that there aren’t more. Hey – they might not work.
So don’t be afraid to fail. Because we all do.
Commit. Commit to whatever you decide to do with all your heart. Don’t half-ass it. When you are finished, be able to step back and say “Good job, Jonnelle” because you left it all on the table. You gave it all.
You loved with it all. You served with it all.
You gave hope to the hopeless because you lived without fear. You gave peace to those who were upset because you listened – really listened. You gave freedom to the oppressed because you held the lantern and their hand to guide them along in their struggles.
You let people speak these same things into your life.
You accepted yourself just as you are. Beautiful and broken. Fabulous and flawed. And you believed it. You stopped only believing only the horrible negative things – mostly you made them up in your head because we are our own worse critics. You and I both have our own shackles of shame but so many are trying to free you.
Let them help you. Let them carry you. They can. There is nothing so heavy – not even you – that the people around you can’t bear if you let them.
And ignore most of the comments on the internet. Trolls will be trolls who hate themselves so much that they have to spew it at everyone and everything around them. They say things they can get away with online because no one knows who they are and there is no accountability. They don’t know YOU. Don’t let them be the arbiter of your value.
I learned all of this… like… yesterday. OK, maybe 2 days ago. Don’t wait 20 years to believe that you are a great as you suspect. Being “great” doesn’t mean having this, that, or the other. It means walking in love, serving with humility, committing to put the other person first and creating the experience you want them to have. If you do that, you will have it to – but it will take time and work.
Smart people like Zig Ziglar say “You have to Be before you and Do and Do before you can Have.” Be-Do-Have. I would like you to think about it like this…
Put the result first in your mind…
If I Have… then I will Be… then I can Do.
If I have Health, then I will be healthy then I will do healthy things… leading me back to having health.
The other way can lead to disappointment because what if you never get the result you were hoping for? So live with the experience that you want to create… then you will always have it. Think beyond “I want to be a millionaire” or “I want to be author.” If you look to create experiences… relationships… I absolutely believe with all my heart those things will follow.
All we have are the people we meet. Don’t ignore them. See them. You can’t love them unless you love yourself first.
God loves YOU. Believe that He does.
I love you.