The following is a letter to my younger self. Keep reading to the end, to find a special writing challenge that I also talk about in the linked podcast episode.
To my younger self.
Listen, I know youâ€™ll go through some hard times in your life and youâ€™ll struggle to follow Godâ€™s calling for you. How do I know? I walked in your shoes once, and I learned some hard lessons along the way.
Four life lessons you should take to heart now.
1. Donâ€™t let anybody tell you that you have to do a certain job, just because itâ€™s marketable.
Youâ€™ll go through Vocational Rehabilitation training, or through college to learn specific job and life skills. However, people will recommend a specific type of job or even find you a job they think youâ€™re good at. Youâ€™re better than that particular dead-end job. Youâ€™re a creative soul. You may not know it now, but God has a plan for your life. Though you may not know it now, you have the potential to serve Him in ways only He and I are aware of. Letâ€™s say youâ€™re a writer. If you dabble in writing while youâ€™re in high school, stick with your writing and finish what you start. An unfinished project is not one you can be proud of, whereas a finished novel or story is one you can show off to your friends and family. I have four books published and am working on several more to prove my success, so follow your heart and donâ€™t let anyone tell you that your dream job is not marketable. Here are five things that you should know about writing:
a. You donâ€™t have to rush through a project to meet someone elseâ€™s deadline. I found this out when I was writing my fantasy novel. I only half finished the book and I chose to rebrand another book, so I could take my time with the first draft of the one I was working on.
b. Donâ€™t publish your first novel until youâ€™re absolutely sure youâ€™re ready to be published. If you have to, get a critique partner or join a writing group to help you fine tune your work, before anyone else sees it. That way, itâ€™ll be the best it can be, and youâ€™ll have a creative baby you can be proud of.
c. Do your research. If you donâ€™t, your writer friends and other readers will tell you about it. You wonâ€™t get a sale, because your readers will spot the inaccuracies from a mile away. If you do your research, youâ€™ll be more authentic and your readers will love you for it.
d. Donâ€™t pay to get your book published. Either self-publish your book, find a small press, or if you feel confident in your work and youâ€™ve gotten some positive feedback you can be proud of, pitch it to an agent.
e. Donâ€™t listen to the naysayers. Some people may tell you that youâ€™ll never make it as a writer. However, you wonâ€™t know whether or not youâ€™ll make it unless you try. Find people who will support you and help you hone your craft, and steer clear of those who will beat you down. If you are called to write and you want to be an author bad enough, youâ€™ll work hard to achieve your goals.
2. You donâ€™t deserve to be mistreated.
I had to learn this life lesson the hard way. I was in two verbally abusive relationships. Although I was blessed with a beautiful daughter, during my first marriage, this blessing didnâ€™t mask the pain I felt after being belittled and made to feel I could do nothing right. Let me tell you, you donâ€™t deserve to be treated that way. Donâ€™t let others treat you in a way you donâ€™t want to be treated. By the same token, treat others the way you would want to be treated. If you try your best to keep a positive attitude, others will see Jesus in you.
3. Give your pain to Jesus!
No matter what trials youâ€™ve faced in your past, whether youâ€™ve been bullied or abused like I have, or youâ€™ve lost a loved one, God will heal your pain, if youâ€™ll only give it all to Him. There are several gifts that The Lord has blessed us with as a source of healing. For me, I found healing through music and journaling. If you need to talk to someone, donâ€™t be ashamed to reach out to your pastor or a Christian counselor for help. Be sure to pray before seeking help from anyone, because God will show you the source of healing thatâ€™s right for you. Donâ€™t hold your pain and fear inside, share your lowest moments with someone you love and trust, because once you release those pent-up feelings, God can make a change in your life for the better.
4. Forgive yourself.
No matter what mistakes youâ€™ll make or what others will do to hurt you, thereâ€™s one thing you must remember. Read Matthew 6;14-15, â€œFor if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.â€ What this essentially means is that before asking God to forgive you, you must forgive those that hurt you. This means forgiving yourself for your own mistakes. Let me tell you from experience, this will be the hardest thing youâ€™ll ever have to do in your life. Forgiving others is sometimes easier than forgiving yourself. I was my own worst critic, and in some cases I still am. However, when God taught me how to forgive myself, I was less critical of myself than when I left the abusive relationships, I was in. Once youâ€™ve forgiven those who have wronged you, including yourself, then will you be forgiven and find healing by the grace of God. Remember that you are good enough as you are. Donâ€™t try to be something youâ€™re not, just be yourself. No matter what youâ€™re going through, no matter what youâ€™ve done, no matter what has happened in your past, God loves you for who you are and I, dear younger me, love you too.
One more thing, donâ€™t forget to Praise God in the good times and the bad, because if we didnâ€™t have problems, God couldnâ€™t show us how He has the power to solve them. Also share your joys with others as well as your sorrows, because your true friends will be there through the good and the bad moments in your life.
Call to action:
Now itâ€™s your turn. Write a letter to your younger self. To hear me elaborate more on this topic and how I got inspired to take on this challenge, listen to the latest episode of my podcast at the following link:
I pray that this post will be a blessing to others and help them discover who they really are, along their creative paths. May this post teach readers how to use their God given tools and gifts to follow His plan for their lives. Until next time, happy writing and God bless.