Dear Younger Me,

dear-younger-me

Dear Younger Me,

From our earliest moment together, you knew exactly what I was thinking. I told my friend, an experienced mother of three, I had a feeling you were going to be born early. “That’s what all new mom’s say,” she informed me. But sure enough, you agreed, and you arrived two weeks earlier than your due date.

You were my first. My experiment. I did everything wrong. As a baby, you hated going to sleep! (and still do) Just like me. A popular book told me I was supposed to teach you discipline when you were only two weeks old, so I made you cry in your room alone. But you knew better. Your persistence taught me to toss the book of formulas and trust my mommy instincts to spoil you with love and cuddles. All the good parenting websites warned me that if I kept nursing you to sleep, you would never learn to sleep on your own. But I am happy to say that we sure proved them wrong, didn’t we?

Your independence and confidence was never in short supply. From the time you snuck out of the sushi restaurant at 2 years old to the way you currently handle every new situation with ease and determination, you never fear.

Something about your confidence, however, made me nervous. There seemed to be too many conversations telling me of your latest accomplishments. Feeling like it was my job to keep you level headed, I tried to combat your confidence with my realism. Instead of affirming your aspirations, I tried to stifle your swagger. Until one day, as I shared my concerns with daddy, we came to the same conclusion. Maybe your declarations of grandeur weren’t done in spite of my critiques, but because of them. Maybe your expressions of excellence weren’t meant to commend you, but to convince me. Maybe if I gave you the approval you needed, you could stop trying so hard to elicit endorsement.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I was afraid to praise you too freely. What if you got too confident? What if you tried something and failed? Isn’t it my job to tell you the hard truth that everyone else is afraid to tell you?

Thankfully and providentially God put a book in my path last year to show me another way.

In Sam Crabtree’s book “Practicing Affirmation,” he cleared up my confusion.*

“….if we fail to affirm our children, they may tune out the truth we are so interested in telling.”

Yes. I need to tell you the truth. But our conversations were so “truth” heavy there was no time for affirmation. This realization felt like a weight I couldn’t bear. I desperately fought the shame and regret only a parent could know. How many years had I wasted assuming you needed more judgement than encouragement? How much damage had been done? Was it too late?
As I recalled and meditated on the principles from this convicting yet encouraging book, another feeling began to emerge, stronger than the shame.

Freedom.

You see, if it isn’t my job to keep you grounded with “constructive” criticism, then I could freely shower you with all the praise and affirmation I felt inside.

I was finally liberated to regularly tell you what I always tell everyone else about you. You are beautiful and kind. Thoughtful and smart. God fearing and Bible following. Imperfect but consecrated to God. Yes, I can daily lavish you with all the praise due to you as an image bearer of God.

And Sam Crabtree explains “why” so beautifully.

“The elementary desire to be commended is not wrong….We should all want to be praised by God Himself. Are you not longing to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”? ….Then we ought to fulfill the Golden rule and award the penultimate praise to others also for the glory of God. In the process, we give our loved ones a foretaste of glory divine.”

As your mom, I get to be the first and most consistent person in your life to tell you, “Well, done my good and faithful child. Enter into the rest of knowing you are a daughter of Christ, clothed in His righteousness”

So instead of telling you all the things I see that need correcting, I am going to borrow a song from Mercy Me to tell you something even more important.

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
dear younger me

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride

Dear younger me,
If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be

 

*  https://www.amazon.com/Practicing-Affirmation-God-Centered-Praise-Those/dp/1433522438

 

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4 thoughts on “Dear Younger Me,

  1. Angela Templeton

    I’ve literally been hearing the same admonition when I pray for my kids. I’m not nearly so critical of my other two as I am of. My first. I wonder why that is? Thanks for being an echo of the Holy Spirit! Hugs, Angela templeton

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  2. Sweet honesty. 🙂
    Happy Birthday Lizzie!!!

    Like

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