By, Michal Gregory 12. 30.19
With the end of a decade creeping up, I can’t help but think back and look at how much life has been lived in only ten years. At the start of the decade I was 15, and I’ll be closing it out at 25.
The path God had me walk at times has been hard. And my heart goes out to that girl I was at the start of the journey. Her heart is so soft, untouched, and filled with dreams bigger than it can hold.
I look from where I am now, ten years down the road, and my arms reach out to her because I see the path she’s called to walk. But also for the unknown strength and character that’s dwelling within her, waiting to be pulled to the surface.
There is so much I wish I could say to her young heart. So if I could, here are the secrets, the tid-bits, the sweet words I would whisper to my younger self. Becuase Lord knows she needed them, and maybe you did too.
This post is long. If you need something short and sweet, here’s a link to the bite sized version of the meal you’re about to read. https://calledtoworth.org/2019/12/30/what-i-would-tell-my-younger-self-shortened/
I chose to keep this piece long ( I know long reads aren’t palatable in our grab and go consumerism), but my younger self would’ve needed to soak up every word on this page. I owe it to her to lay it all out there.
And perhaps you know of a young woman, whose heart needs to hear these words. We may have lived different lives, but to any young girl reading this, I freely give you my lessons, learned hard.
2011-2012. Sophomore and Junior in high school
Thanks to a few amazing friends, you’ll begin your love affair and obsession with the idea of fearlessness, grit, and character.
Above all, allow those ideas to take root. I mean really take root, allow them to seep so deep into your soul that they become part of your DNA.
You’ll journal and pray non-stop about growing into a woman with profound character and strength, but who is also wild, fearless, and walking in adventure.
But please know that when you pray for profound character profound trials will come your way. You can’t be who you want to be, without going through some flames.
Every time you pray for character, you’re turning up the flames in the oven for which you will be put in to gain that character. Don’t be surprised when life gets hard, its what you prayed for.
In one hand you’ll be holding the desire to be fierce and strong, and in the other hand you’ll be holding on to being pure, holy, and innocent. Don’t choose, God has made you big enough to be both.
Being strong and adventurous doesn’t take away from your femininity. Don’t confuse femininity with meekness. With that being said, don’t confuse strength for self-destruction.
The seeds you plant at the beginning of the decade is the garden you walk in at the end. The things that you are so captivated by; theology, psychology, spirituality, grit, resiliency, adventure… they aren’t by accident.
The things that set your soul on fire are hints from God, so gather up that wood and pile it high.
Sometimes your heart will swell with emotions you can’t put a name on. That’s okay, allow those God given passions to marinate.
2012-Senior in high school
You’re trying to navigate where to go for college. You’ve got five serious offers on the table and you feel beyond terrified to make the wrong decision. You keep praying to God to make it beyond clear where you should go.
But here’s what you need to learn; sometimes God wants us to chose. It’s easy to have faith when everything is decided for you. Sometimes he will open a door for you and it will be so widely clear to you. But sometimes it wont. Sometimes he wants you to come and knock on his door.
Don’t be afraid of making the wrong decision, be afraid of making no-decisions and staying put, to live your life in the comfort zone. God did not make you as intricate and capable as you are for you to live life in the safe harbor.
You, sweet girl, are made for deep waters.
So make a decision. At least start going in a direction. If you’re walking in the wrong direction, God is more than capable of using that momentum to guide you in the right direction.
You end up choosing the riskiest choice for a school and it will be the most incredible, painful, and beautiful best and worst choice you ever made.
2013- freshmen, University of Arizona
You’ll want so desperately to find a boyfriend for the first time. And sweetheart, you just have to be patient. God has bigger issues to work on in your life, then boys.
The truth is, God has a bigger purpose for you than to date. He’s trying to mold you into what you had been praying for for years: a hardcore, tougher than nails, fearless woman. There’s no room for boys who don’t deserve the woman you are becoming.
Its not a punishment from God, its a compliment from him. He’s putting you aside for someone who truly deserves the women you’ll become and the work it will take to get you there.
Let go of feeling like you are unwanted, invisible, undesirable, and overlooked. You are none of those things.
What God is doing is putting you on the highest shelf for the man who is capable and worthy of reaching it.
Please hear me girl; continue to journal and pray over your future husband, even though you aren’t married to him yet or know of him yet, your words and prayers will still pour into his life. Your words won’t land on his ears, but they will land on his heart.
2014-University of Arizona, Sophomore
This will be the most gut-wrenching year of your life. It is the turning point in who you are and the life you will live.
The advice is simple: honey, hold on. Dig into your faith, there are factors at play that are bigger than yourself.
For this season, I would whisper over and over that you, beautiful girl, can do hard things. These are your flames, this is what you prayed for.
You’ll find this single desk hiding amidst rows of foreign books no one will look for on the top floor of the library. You will come here everyday in between practices and class (during that annoying gap in your schedule you were so annoyed about) to read your bible and journal.
Pour your soul out. Get out every last bit of hurt. Tears will flow nearly every day, and that is so okay. You’re not weak, you’re growing.
Allow these private moments to become your daily cleansing. And just know that he hears you, and that not a tear that is shed goes unnoticed; he’s listening. He knows every word you put down.
This tiny secret spot becomes your battleground. Some battles are only won with a pen, paper, and bible. Please, fight hard. Because It will be, and still is, the most beautiful part of your faith to date.
It is the foundation of the woman you are now. So be disciplined in walking to that library even when your heart feels swollen and tired.
It is through those private and difficult hours where God will meet you where you’re at. Don’t miss him. That time is where he starts building you; word by word, prayer by prayer, page by page.
After a year of surrender, a door opens up to Indiana University. It feels too good to be true, and honestly, it still does. And I’m not sure that feeling will ever wear off.
Please fight the feeling that you failed, that you weren’t strong enough to handle what God put in front of you. Quit opposite actually, you went through what God needed you to go through. You’re time there is done. Just as easily as God can plant you, he can also uproot you.
2015- Junior IU
It takes a full year to trust your new coach and teammates. But sweet girl, they are so deserving of that trust.
Please don’t forget that God is good, but more importantly some people are too. Don’t make good people pay for the consequences of bad people.
After feeling how good life could have been, you’ll start to feel bitter about the past. Don’t.
Self-pity is a nasty trap. As hard as it is, choose to be thankful for where you are now. It is too painful a burden to bear to think about what could have been, instead shift your thought process to how amazing what currently is.
And if you can, be thankful for the past. Come to terms with it and have respect for that season; you needed those lessons, regardless the price you paid for them.
And you’ll meet the boy. Finally.
Trust your gut on this one. He may be wild, weird, and will make you want to pull your hair out at times.
But he is good. Not in the good guy finishes last scenario, but the they don’t make men like this anymore type. The good as in, there’s a light and spirit that lives in him that you’ve never seen in a person before type.
Take his hand and never let go. That boy will lead you down a path of healing, hope, and adventure.
2016- 2017 Senior
There’s a reason we go through seasons, so we can put all the pieces together. Take the strength and raw resiliency you learned at UofA and pair it with the hope, joy, and thankfulness you learned at IU. Just sit back and watch what can unfold.
It sounds unfathomable, but you will qualify for the World University Games in Taiwain to represent the United States. Please please please believe your coach when he says you deserve to be there.
You’re hardest athletic challenge comes at the very end, you battle injury the summer leading up to Taiwan, and the first time you put all your dives together will be in the warm-up before you compete. You’re able to do it only because of all your accumulated experience facing adversity head on: this is why seasons are beautiful.
In the midst of your biggest challenge you find the fulfillment of God’s promises. You’ll finish your last competition of your life in the finals of an international competition with a USA suit on. Despite it all.
God is good. You learn that some promises take years, but they are worth it. And honestly, the longer and harder the wait, the sweeter the finish-line. If you’re road feels long and hard, get excited. The ending is worth it.
As one chapter of your life ends another starts. New battlegrounds, but you find yourself with the same pen, paper, and bible.
The way you became obsessed with strength and grit, you are now becoming obsessed with stewardship, with responsibility.
With what it means to take ownership of all you’ve been given. What it means to be a women and this new role of fiance/wife.
Everyone is buying homes, getting married, affording vacations you don’t think you’ll ever be able to afford. You’re working 3 part time jobs and grinding through grad school. One time, your card will decline on a $3 purchase. That one will sting.
Oh girl, do not compare yourself, I don’t care what Instagram says. Everyone knows comparison is a thief of joy, but let me say it again because I don’t think you’re hearing me through the cliche.
Comparison will make your amazing life feel miserable, and it will make your blessings feel like burdens. Stop, cold turkey. drop it like a bad habit because its a deadly habit. It’ll kill your joy and your relationships.
What you own and where you work is not an indicator of God’s favor or love for you. The balance in your bank account is not a price tag on your talent, worth, or future. Where you are now is not where you will be.
You know what’s better than a plush bank account and affording organic groceries?
A marriage that is solid and secured. A home that has peace and safe boundaries. A faith that has depth and brings about hope and endurance. Prioritize what is important. You have the rest of your life to acquire stuff.
Just as the decade started, so is it ending.
With the new winds of marriage and graduation, God is bringing in new passions and dreams into your heart. You know the drill girl, pile them up high.
Create your own secret spot and go there daily, even if your heart feels heavy and swollen. Even if you feel like you have no time. You have the time, and if you don’t, make the time. Cut out the excess noise in your life. Say no to the rush (if you need a good read on saying no, read this https://calledtoworth.org/2019/11/02/example-post/
Nothing is more important than to stop and listen when God is pulling on your heart strings, nothing.
I’m sure Michal ten years from now is looking at me and just shaking her head. I’m sure her heart goes out to what lies ahead and to the blisters my feet will get journeying there. And make no mistake, not a single part of me expects it to be easy.
My prayers are big, but so too are some of my fears, worries, and doubts. I’m throwing every once of my faith on the cliffs edge, putting it all on the line to trust God’s provision. For my worry, I’m throwing that out to deep waters, I’ve no use for it where i’m going.
It feels the same, but this time around there is no fear. There will be hiccups and adversity of that I’m sure, but no fear or doubt.
Only faith and knowledge knowing that seeds need rain, and gardens need refining. But most importantly God’s beautiful promises need processes.
So to my current self, allow these thoughts to take deep root into the fabric of who you are, allow them to be woven into your DNA, just like you did when you were fifteen.
And just wait and see what grows.
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