Day 18: Day 18: If You Could Have a Conversation With Your Younger Self, What Would You Say?
I started this blogging challenge over a year ago and I’ve only worked my way up to Day 18…though the timing of writing this particular blog is so perfect, I can’t help but believe that even in our busyness and forgetfulness and procrastination, God’s timetable still manages to have its way with us.
I’ve just finished reading Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty, and though she’s married with five kids, I saw so many parallels between my walk with God and hers, I literally couldn’t devour the pages fast enough. And after planning all day to write this blog, when I got to the Epilogue of the book only to discover it was Sara imparting wisdom to her younger self, tears broke free and fell from my eyes…the sweet serendipity that only a true “God Wink” can bring leaving me breathless.
You see, my birthday is tomorrow. At midnight tonight, my 35th year will officially be behind me…making today particularly reflective and a little bittersweet for me, because this year has been nothing short of amazing. If any year of our lives can be labeled our “God Year,” this one would have to be it for me. I have pursued Him endlessly over this past year…through heartbreak and triumph, through dark seasons and joyfully light ones, through obedience and moments of stubborn rebellion. I (literally) pursued Him clear across the country in an RV. I pursued His hand in a long-suffering relationship that I desperately needed closure in until, after eight years, He delivered closure. I threw my biggest dream down at His feet with such voracity and surrender that I finally left room for Him to make it come true (hitting the New York Times Bestseller List with Never Been to Vegas).
Yes, if 33 was my “Jesus Year,” then 35 was most definitely my “God Year.” A year in which I sought Him, questioned Him, cried out to Him, yelled at Him, begged for more of Him, challenged Him, and ultimately surrendered to Him. Which puts me in an entirely different head and heart space to talk to my younger self than I was in a year ago, or even a few weeks ago when I dusted off my Blogging Challenge and committed to finishing it.
My mom posted some baby pictures of me earlier today in celebration of my birthday tomorrow, and as I looked at the pictures of that smiling, innocent baby, I thought to myself:
You’re going to know pain. You’re going to be bullied in your teens, suffer from debilitating depression that feels like it will never end in your 20’s, and question whether or not you are meant to wander the earth alone in your 30’s.
You won’t always smile like you’re smiling now.
You will question God. You will doubt His existence at times. You will run from Him. You will flagrantly disobey Him. You will wrestle with Him and His will for your life. Once you figure out the great calling you were put on this earth for, it will overwhelm you at times and you’ll try to hand it back to Him. Ultimately, though…through all the wrestling and the fighting and the rebelling and the questioning, you will come to know Him and His heart in such a beautiful way. You will fall in love with Him. He will be your hiding place, your safe refuge. He will be your strength, because girl…you aren’t known for your strength. The only way you will be able to stand on stages and write books and open your heart to the world and face fears and battle back against deep feelings of insecurity and inadequacy is through Him. (It’s not going to be through you, just in case you ever try and get big-headed.)
You will know loneliness. Oh, young Mandy…this is the part that I wish I could spare you from, but I can’t…because to spare you from loneliness is to spare you from the very intimacy with God that the loneliness will cultivate. You will feel, quite often, actually…as though you are cursed with loneliness, plagued by it. You will live alone, learn to go to movies and dine alone, worship alone, even travel alone. You will have friends, beautiful, wonderful ones…but your life will be marked by a certain solitude that will make you feel set apart from other people… “Normal” people.
But here’s the good news.
You ARE set apart from other people, “normal” people. Normal lost your address, boo. Your life will tell many stories, but NORMAL isn’t one of them. So when you are tempted over the years to try and squeeze yourself into boxes and molds and labels to hide the proportions of your life in order to make others feel safe …DON’T. It will be futile. You won’t ever fit those molds. YOU WON’T EVER FIT. This feels like a curse, but is one of the most beautiful blessings God bestowed upon your life.
Somewhere in your 30’s, you’ll start to accept yourself and your awkward aloneness. And out of the ashes of trying for years to be someone you’re not will rise everything that you ARE. And the most unexpected spark will light a most unexpected fire…a fire that will inspire and encourage other women like you to stop apologizing for who they are, too. To walk bravely in their brokenness. To sashay through their solitude. To leap for joy in the midst of their loneliness.
So keep smiling, beautiful Mandy. You can’t possibly see now how much your life will matter. It won’t matter because of something YOU do or something YOU accomplish but because of something God will do and accomplish THROUGH you. The very weakness that will often make you feel like a failure will be your most shining asset. Because that God that you question and wrestle with and love and pursue and cry out to will be able to use that weakness as a vessel for His strength. And it will be beautiful.
To paraphrase a quote by Stephen King, I will close with this: “Will I tell you that Mandy lived happily ever after? I will not, for no one ever does. But there was happiness. And she did live.”
Here’s to 36. I’m ready for you.
***Join my 30-Day Blogging Challenge at any time either by commenting below, or responding to the challenges each day on your own personal blog and sharing the link below or on social media. All the details HERE! Make sure to hashtag all posts on Twitter and Facebook #TheSW30.***
Hello, I want you to know that your blog continues to touch the dark places of my heart and my hurt. I believe that the healing has begun in me. Loneliness is so scary and thank for talking about it. Because my smiles on social media really do hide my tears. God bless you tenfold for your words. I pray whatever your heart desires God will answer according to his will.
This is a beautiful sentiment. Thank you so much. <3
You’re blog brought me to tears ! I felt like your were speaking to baby me . I can’t express how thankful I am for your heart and your courage to stand up for the single women who face the challenges of well … Being alone . Thank you !
First of all happy birthday to you! I loved this it all sounds familiar! I’ve followed you on both accounts you give me a oh it’s not just me feeling I made 30 this year I prayed and told myself it was time to chin up stand tall and just smile and move forward.. you are breath of fresh air to many women I’m sure.. blessings to you
So encouraging and well said…Everything that I would tell my younger self! This year, 36 by far has been my best year…enjoy. Happy birthday
Comforting post Miss Hale.. my life after divorce..
Girl you spoke to me this morning I’m sitting here with Tears in my eyes. Thank you so much. God had truly giving you a gift. And I thank HIM for it.
Thank you so much, Jocelyn! xxoo
As I approach my birthday next month, I’m definitely taking up the challenge of writing a letter to my younger self. I’ve learnt, I’ve cried, I’ve also had battles with God. But at the end of the day, I still run to God because it is Him who is my shield and he has defined the things that needed to happen in my life, why they have happened and how they have defined who I am today.
Thank you Mandy,
Just found your website. This just made me really cry but in a good way. Beautifully written and bang-on timing. Thank you xx
Awesome blog post! Loved the advice to your younger self and even the advice that the hard times will cultivate something beautiful with God. Thanks for posting. 😉
you were born for such a time as this Mandy girl. HAPPY DAY OF YOUR BIRTH .you are “spot” on
my younger self would say “watch out ,its gonna be a bumpy ride” above ALL else ,make G-d your FIRST choice ,listen closely to the words and wisdom he speaks into your life ,for out of them flow rivers of living waters, waters to cool and sooth ,the rough and bumpy places,healing waters,life giving waters. listen ,listen to theat still small voice and dont dispise the teachings and corrections of a Father that has your best intrest @ heart .you are the apple of his eye. you better belive that .
God won’t leave you, no matter how much you’re hurting. During all the bullying, loneliness, and tears, find your solace in Him, as well as in His followers. Also, use your opera voice. God gave it to you for a great reason, even if it’s only for the simple pleasure of ability.
i would like to use your 30 day blog posts! but i blog on my Facebook page!
Realize your worth. Don’t be afraid to be alone, because you will see that the greatest loneliness iis being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t give a damn about you. Don’t allow your past to dictate your future. Believe in your ability to fly, and soar with no limits.
Happy Birthday to you! I can relate to this entry in so many ways. Thank you for being a voice to thirty-something single women who are seeking the Lord. Just thank you! Needed this today! ♡
I’m going to start blogging – I love this challenge!
Mandy…These words completely resonate with me. It’s like your story is very parallel to mine. You give me hope. God is doing great things through you. I am truly inspired by you. Thank you soul sista. Tianna Leigh at Wishes for the Soul
The me now would tell the me then that it gets better. And worse. But for better or worse, you’ve gotta look to Him. In your Sunday school days of childhood, it makes sense. Your biggest worries will involve sibling spats, best friend bracelets, and multiplication problems. Then the whole turn to God, He’s got a plan might start to sound corny in your teens when your parents and youth leaders seem to cram it down your throat. You’ll feel like everyone needs to just leave you alone. Yet, deep down hold tight to that truth because it is the only thing that makes sense. In your college years and early twenties, you’ll think you have it all figured out – His Will, your next move, your friendships, your relationships (or lack thereof). No one can tell you anything you don’t already know. You may keep up this act for a while, maybe until you’re 25, but then it crumbles. Life, the one where you’re supposed to be married and living a life of ease with a career and husband, doesn’t happen. Not at 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. You’ll stare 30 in the face. But somewhere along the way, you will have figured out that you’re ok. Because you are. You’ll thrive in jobs and find different skills you never knew existed, all because you stepped out in faith. Alone but with Him on your side. And you’ll be a light to others, people you don’t even know. People who see that He’s in you. Kids and adults who will remind you that He’s placed family all around you, even if you don’t have the husband and 2.5 kids with a minivan. So, don’t listen to the world and bury yourself in woes. Young me, it’s about to get so much better. And worse. But that’s the beauty of it all. Watch, He’ll turn your sorrows of today into promises of tomorrows filled with His hope.
Oh Mandy!! First, happy belated birthday!! Hope it was a wonderful day. Second, what you wrote was so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes, literally. I can identify with so much of what you have gone through. I’m 41 and still feel broken and like I don’t fit in. I try to remember every day that I am a unique shining star, that I am not “normal”, whatever “normal” is…that I’m one of a kind and special in every way. Some days are harder then others, but with people like you out there to keep me going, it makes it easier. Here’s to your 36th year, and many many many more! Thank you!
I’d like to be part of your 30 day blog challenge.
I do not get on Twitter often enough, something made me follow you a few months ago and I just sat down and looked up your FB and your Website and I am blown away. Are you from Nashville? That’s home to me as well, but I live in Los Angeles. I live in a VERY single Los Angeles, for going on 14 years now. There have been many men, but no one that I have loved. I struggle with loneliness every single day even though I have so much love in my life from my friends. I was diagnosed with MS last year and I have changed my lifestyle to one of faith, hope, gratitude, and prayer and meditation, and lots and lots of self love. But yet that loneliness still hurts…and I’ve yet to find the partner I yearn for. Especially now since my life has changed so much more on a spiritual path, I wish to find someone to share in the same things I believe in. Just reading through a couple of your blogs and posts this morning gave me so much comfort. I don’t know how I have not found you before, but I’m glad to have come across you now. As you said, God shows us when we need it the most, and here you are. May you have a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend full of love and gratitude.
I truly love all of your blogs and they help to organize thoughts about similar events in my life as well.
I wish I could’ve said something to myself sooner than high school, so I could’ve had a better chance at stopping self destructive behaviors. I would say, “Deep down right now you believe in Jesus Christ…find him because you need faith to get you through this.”
To my younger self:
I don’t regret you I thank you….
I know it’s all Gods plan but my power to choose. I chose to stay in a relationship starting at the age of 15 and ending it at the the age of 30. It was good, bad, ugly, happy and sad. It left me emotionally abused. I’m 31 now and learning dealing and trying to figure out the how’s and why’s. Being a single mom of 3 kids 11, 10, and 6 and not having ANY support from the father had made me mad angry until I learned the power of forgiveness. Been to court twice and the second time with another no show had me dealing with numerous feelings of how could he, I WANTED to hate him be mad but I couldn’t my heart wouldn’t let me. I kept hearing you gave him to Me remember I got this. Just let me cry a little and I’ll be ok. So I did and after a good talk with my bff I was ok. There’s more to my story. But i never thought I would be a single mom of three kids no job.. oh wait being a mom is a job, I take care of my baby niece Volounteer at the kids schools. my life is my job.
thank you Mandy your words are strong full of power and encouraging. I have not read the books yet but when I do get the chance to get them I know I’ll be hooked. KEEP MOVING your blessed with a special gift.
I would say to my younger self: Sabrena, buckle your seat belt because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. I would warn her that there will be times that she feels completely alone, inadequate and not worthy of love; and she will have to fight to hold on to the dream in her heart even when it seems all hope is lost. But one day there will be a transformation, an intimate time with the Lord where he will begin to transform her mind and reveal all that lies within. She will then emerge a butterfly, still unsure of the road ahead, but a lot more confident because she knows that she is chosen by God and destined for greatness….Thanks for sharing your life with us Mandy. Truly inspirational :).
I must say this entry is the one that struck home to me the most. As I was half way through reading it I noticed tears in my eyes. I felt like I was reading something that I would have written (altho I’m not nearly as good with words as you are). As I turn 30 next year I have recently been thinking the way my life has turned out. I know the younger me would not have pictured herself where I am today. I watch peers get engaged, married, have children, land their dream job, and build beautiful homes. Here I am, single, after 6 years of schooling (masters degree included) no steady permanent teaching job, and recently moved back in with my parents due to financial reasons, I often wonder what God’s plan for me is. Reading your books, blogs, Facebook and Instagram posts have made me realize there is still hope for me. And that I’m not alone in this feeling. Thank you for spreading your wonderful message and helping me keep the faith that good things will happen when they are meant to ♡
Just beautiful. Made me feel so much better
I have to tell you that the words you wrote to yourself in that baby picture just spoke to me more than possibly anything I have ever read before (well, outside of certain scriptures.) Your life lessons, your feelings, your experiences…those were…those were carbon copies of my very own! I felt like I was reading someone else describe me…that I’ve never met! The only difference was the wisdom you provided. I haven’t always been able to see the beauty and purpose in it all but, thanks to your vulnerability I think I do now. Your sharing means more than you know…so thank you. Thanks for being you (and me lol). Wish we could meet up for coffee and enjoy all the “me too” conversation. God Bless you girlfriend!
I would say stop and smell the roses. Slow down, take your time. So many lessons learned. At times it’s hard to keep my chin up. I’m sometimes my worst enemy by far. Looking forward to 2015. It WILL be my best year yet! Been reading some really great books. Just found this site from a fried off Facebook. God works in mysterious ways and anyone who
doesn’t believe in God is missing out big time. Peace, love and happiness must start with me first.
Mandy, you are truly a courageous woman of God. I’ve been reading your books, and although I am only 20, you inspire me in my journey of singleness. I dated the wrong guy almost all four years of high school and into college. God has set me free from the ungodly relationship and has made me dependent upon Him. Your stories remind me of my relationship mishaps, and make me laugh, cry, and smile at the wonderfully mysterious way God works in our lives. Keep inspiring young women in their walk with Christ on this journey of singleness, because so many of us look up to you. You are truly a light of Christ! While God is preparing the man he has patiently waiting on you, always remember Lamentations 3:24-25 “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will put my hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” 🙂
I would tell myself to listen to the advice of those who want to help me. Wait for love and wait til everything is right before you have children. Have the right career not just a job. To also listen to the voice in my head who was telling me something is wrong. These were all the things I rushed at 19 that has landed me where I am today. Not so say my daughter isn’t my blessing and that my career is finally on the right path. I have everything I need but nothing I wanted for my life. I’m only 26 and more of my life is to come. I sometimes reflect on my life and realize that had I not rushed everything at 19, I would have all my needs and wants. Or maybe I’d still be the single girl but with less scars on my heart, my mind, and my soul.
You touched my heart…thank you for sharing.
Reading your post and everyone’s comments makes me feel less alone in my struggles, how can it be so hard for me to find friendly female christian fellowship and I come on a website like this and see walls down, kindness, encouragement, and an inviting post written by an incredible woman. xo
ps: Mandy Mr E was always suppose to leave because if its Gods will for you to marry (and I believe it is) there is a man worthy of standing by yourside, and when he finds you the story will unfold beautifully without Mr E but with someone who will love you with the selfless love God intended us to be loved with.
A good father wants only the best for his children 😉
“Hey there pretty girl, brace yourself, your life is going to be one bumpy ride. You are going to love people with all that you are but most of them are not going to reciprocate what you have to offer, that is going to break you. You are going to continue hoping and expecting people to give back what you have to offer but to no avail, this is going to make you question your belief in people. You are going to wonder what is wrong with you but don’t you ever think there is anything wrong with you, you are an amazing creation of God. You are going to have to learn to live without expectations because if you do, you are the one who is always going to end up getting hurt. Learn to love being by yourself, this is where you get to find out who you are. Lastly, realise that no one can complete you except for God.”
…a fire that will inspire and encourage other women like you to stop apologizing for who they are
That is my favorite quote from you! I think that you are such a wonderful woman and that you are so inspirational! You have affected my life tremendously with your books and your blogs and everything! I am no longer apologizing for who I am. Thanks so much for everything that you do!
I can really relate to paragraph #9! (That includes a one sentence paragraph in the count.) Thank you for sharing! I feel a little less alone in my “aloneness” now. ❤️