Dear Younger Jodi: What I Would Tell My Younger Self
Dear Younger Me,
Hi there! A lot of time has passed. And, spoiler alert—you are married and have kids! You’ve got unending piles of laundry, and everyone wants snacks from you all the time. Exciting, huh? You also have a wonderful job and a community of people where roots grow deep. You have honest and true friendships. You feel better in your own skin, and you aren’t so worried about who you “want” to be. Your frenemies, namely comparison and insecurity, show up sometimes, but they aren’t in the driver’s seat anymore.
I know, it is hard to believe. What changed? How did we get here?
Listen to What God Says About You
Before I spill all the beans, you need to pause. For a moment. Because the victory tastes much sweeter when you acknowledge what you are up against. You know the jealousy that camps out in your heart when you long to be someone you aren’t? You know the bitter thoughts that so easily creep into your mind when that friend has a victory and you don’t? You definitely know the whiplash you give yourself from looking at her and then looking at yourself. And then back again, and again. It’s painful, I know. And it’s humbling. I get it. But that is where we start. James 4:10 reminds us that we can never go up until we go down. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” Now you can look up, way up, and see what God has to say.
If I could, I would tell my younger self: You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You hear it all the time, so maybe you don’t really hear it anymore. But it is true! God doesn’t make mistakes. His hand didn’t slip when he was handing out personalities or talents. He didn’t say “oops” when he dished-out smarts or beauty. You are on purpose.
I know this is where the rubber meets the road. You do believe all those things God says, or you think you do. But then you are at that sleepover, and bam, suddenly, you don’t believe it. You believe the lies. “You aren’t special, no one likes you as much as they like her. You are boring and ordinary.” It’s embarrassing to see it on paper, but we all fall for those lies.
Have Faith, Younger Self
So, what do you do? Check out Ephesians 6:11. Here, Paul says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” There is only one way to fight the lies of the evil one! There is only one trustworthy defense! If you keep reading in Ephesians 6, you will see that Paul tells us to have faith. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (v. 16).
And those fiery darts are no joke. They can do real damage. Begin to lean into Jesus. He offers the gift of faith which is one impressive shield. I know right now you only see the battles you are facing—insecurity, comparison, and jealousy. Take a deeper look! There is one battle underneath it all. It’s the battle of belief. Who will you believe? The God of the Bible? The one who made you and has plans for you? Or the devil, the deceiver and great thief who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Do you see him? Jesus stands next to you. He offers you the faith shield. Pick it up and believe what he says about you.
About Those People Around You…
While you are fighting your battle for faith about who you are, what about those people? The ones who look better, act cooler, and leave you feeling small? First, you have to trust me that when you know who you are, it gets better. That’s the miracle of it all. Secondly, you also have to believe those same truths about those around you! Your friends were made on purpose too. They have been made special and are uniquely loved just as you are. You can embrace that without feeling threatened. You can celebrate them without feeling lost or unseen. So, what of that girl who seems to have it all together? Champion her! You don’t need to feel like you’re losing in light of her accomplishments!
When it Feels Impossible, Pray!
Does this seem impossible? Pray! Pray for them. Pray for her. Pray when the battle is raging. Ephesians 6:8 encourages us that we should be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” Along with the shield of faith that you carry, wield your prayers like the weapons they are.
At the risk of revealing too much about your future, I will tell you this: Those people? They might become some of your favorite people. Hang in there. I will leave you with the words one of my (our!) favorite quotes, by Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
I like that a lot. I might even like it so much that I put it on a plaque in my bathroom someday.
Cheering you on,
Your Older Self