Thursday, June 16, 2011

This Too Shall Pass


It's time for the Third Thursday Blog Hop! For those who missed last month's edition (May 19), the blog hop is a monthly opportunity for all of the Hearts at Home bloggers to write about the same topic. Although we all share different perspectives, we're all Christian moms hoping to support, encourage, and inspire other moms through every stage of motherhood. At the bottom of this post, you will find links to the pages of all the other bloggers.  The topic for June is "if you could go back in time and tell your teenage self one thing, what would you say?"

 When I first started thinking about what to write for this post, I made a mental  list of things I would warn myself about, things I would tell myself to do differently, and things I would tell myself not to do at all. The longer I thought about it, the longer the list grew. By the time I navigated my way from ages 13 to 19, I left quite a wake of mistakes - including some people I shouldn’t have dated, some drinks I shouldn’t have taken, and some choices I shouldn’t have made. I wish I had a little more respect for my body and a lot more respect for my parents. I wish I had spent more energy enjoying good times than dwelling on bad times, and I wish I believed in the saying, “this too shall pass.” I wish I knew that when I looked back, I would barely remember any of the incidents that seemed like the end of the world and that I would forget a lot of the memories I promised myself I would cherish forever. The bottom line for me (and probably lots of other people) is: if I knew then what I know now, my teen years would look very different.

However, I don’t want my teenage self to know any of that stuff. I am who I am because of my past, and I know now what I know now because of what I didn’t know then. All of the elements of my present life are directly linked to events, choices, and people in my past; and to change any of those things would mean changing some aspect of the life I have today. I believe that God gave me certain challenges for a reason beyond what my teenage mind could comprehend. I believe that through those challenges, He led me to the right major, the right career, the right husband, and the right future. And I believe that alone justifies my refusal to live with regrets.  

But if I truly could go back, there is something I might say. For me, the toughest part of my adolescence was the early years, from ages 10-14, when I endured daily relentless teasing about my teeth. (Click the picture for a larger image as the small one gives no justice to the reason). Although the problem was only temporary, the damage done in those 4 years had a devastating effect on my self-image. I would be well into my twenties before I finally made my peace with the chain of events that unfolded over the rest of my adolescent years as a result of my desperate need to feel accepted by others and my inability to fully accept myself. Although I don't want to issue any warnings or make any changes, I do want to offer my 13-year-old self some comfort in the present and some hope for a better future. As I write this, I am creating a mental image of what such a revelation might look like...

I look inside myself and see the 13-year-old version of me crying on the school bus after yet another long day of taunting, the words "snaggle-tooth" and "can opener" still ringing in my ears. I stare out the window and wonder if I will ever believe that I am beautiful. As I pretend to dig to the bottom of my backpack to hide my tear-stained face, I find a mysterious note under my books. Confused, I pull it out and open it up. The handwriting looks oddly like a more developed version of my own cursive scribble… 

If I told you where this came from, you would never believe me, but I need you to know that I understand what you’re going through.  I'm not going to lie, this will be a tough year for you, but it won’t always be this bad. It may be hard to see it now, but you will come out on the other side. “This too shall pass.” You don’t believe it, but it is true. And even though you'll be ok, you’ll also have a lot of ups and downs over the next few years. You’ll face some challenging decisions, and you'll learn a lot of things the hard way. You will need to brace yourself for some loss and some pain and some really tough times. But you’ll also laugh a lot, and love a lot, and learn a lot. And someday when someone will ask you if you would want to go back and change anything. You will think about it for only a moment and then you’ll say no because your husband is wonderful, your family is wonderful, your life is wonderful, and yes, you do believe that you are beautiful.

I read it once and then I read it again. Then I fold it up and put it back in my bag but when I look for it later, it's already gone. For the rest of the day, I mentally repeat the parts I can remember, and even though I don't feel any better right now, I take comfort because I believe that someday I will. 

That's it. That's all I would want myself to know - that every mistake is worth the lesson learned and every challenge is worth the character it builds. When I face difficult times as an adult, I still look back on those years to remind myself that no matter how tough a struggle seems to be, I can overcome it, I will be better for having faced it, and "this too shall pass."

4 comments:

  1. I loved your post! Don't you wish you could just give that girl of your past a huge hug! I wish I could! "this too shall pass" is a phrase that peppered my growing up from my mother. I love it and it still gets me through rough patches! This was my first time participating in the Blog hop!

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  2. Great post! I love how you wouldn't change anything because it would change who you are now--it's a great reminder that there really are reasons for those tough seasons (such as being a teen) we all pass through.

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  3. Lisa,
    Thank you so much for taking time to put those painful experiences into words.Those are not easy years, and the scars for many led down difficult paths. Isn't it amazing how one event can lead to another that can lead to a destination we can never imagine? Only God's grace is greater than our mistakes, our weaknesses, and the evil around us. I'm so glad He can take us and shape us into something beautiful, even using the wounds to add to the beauty.

    Thank you, Lisa. So glad I stopped by from Hearts at Home today!

    ~ Julie

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