On the last day she’s 16, she turns to me while we wait for the lights on the corner of Main Street and Wallace, and she asks: “What do you think your 16-year-old self would think of you now, if she ran into you right now?”
I don’t think she’s asking: Would your 16-year-old self be surprised that you’re still a nerd who loves words, that you don’t have to be afraid of love handles — because you get love handles just about when you are getting a handle on life, and that you always get a second act, no matter what mess of stuff acted up in your first act or what time the second hand on the clock says.
“Will I like who I am slowly becoming?”
I search her face, and that’s what she’s really asking her mom, “Will I like who I am slowly becoming? Will my 16-year-old self like myself when I meet her someday at 46?” She’s asking me:
How might my younger, optimistic self feel about meeting my actual, older selves?
“You will someday face your worst nightmare, right in the middle of one ordinary day, and you’ll wake up to God with you.”
How do I explain this about her future self:
Your weird is her wonderful,
your strange peculiarities are part of her sacred singularity,
your youness is her own kind of loveliness.
You can smile when you meet her, because she’s weathered through every storm that’s met her. Because it happens: You will someday face your worst nightmare, right in the middle of one ordinary day, and you’ll wake up to God with you.
You can like her and you can love her — because she is deeply Beloved.
You can like the you up ahead, because you know she’s trying right now with her whole heart.
“You can like her and you can love her — because she is deeply Beloved.”
And even when you’re aren’t showing up with your whole heart, when you just — can’t?
You can forgive yourself with your whole heart, because He already has, because nothing ever is for naught, because nothing is ever wasted but everything’s worked tenderly into good. Because nowhere does it say “For we so got it right in the world, that God finally gave us a smidgen crack of hope, that whosoever can squeeze through on their own laurels will be laughing all the way to glory,” but rather, “For God so loved us in this busted world, that He gave us grace, that He gave us Love, that He gave us Himself — and whosoever will simply take it, gets to really live.”
“You don’t have to change the world, you just have to let God change your soul, because each of us is what needs to change in the world.“
I want to whisper to the young version of us, the today version:
Your success isn’t measured by whether you someday impress your high school self, or any of your high school bullies — success is about whether you press into Jesus.
You don’t have to change the world, you just have to let God change your soul, because each of us is what needs to change in the world.
Your story isn’t all going to go as you want, and you are still going to be okay:
Life isn’t about whether your story is going as planned, but about whether you’re following the Author of Life, the Word Himself.
And just because the story isn’t what you wanted, you can be who you wanted to be in the story.
Just because the story isn’t what you wanted, you can write the next line with as much love and grace and forgiveness and kindness as you want.
You don’t get to undo or do-over or rewrite — you simply get to write more love into right now.
“Who you are in the story 10 years from now, begins right now.”
Just because the story may not be what you envisioned?
Who you are in the story 10 years from now, begins right now.
Your today is the way you get to write the story of your tomorrow.
And just because your story has taken a turn, doesn’t mean you can’t now make an even greater turn.
It’s true: You’ve gotten it wrong, you are getting it wrong, you will get it wrong, but you aren’t wrong, you are still right in His arms, still His beloved.
And on the corner of Main & Wallace, I reach over and our girl and I hold each other in a long hug, and we hold space for each other, right there at the lights, and all the lights turn on for what’s the main thing:
You don’t have to be afraid of fully feeling all of whatever your story holds — because you will always be held by Love Himself.
And her and I, we embrace each other and our story, just as it comes.
For Our Tender places, For our Hard Stories,
For All of Us looking for More than a Way Through, but a New way to actually Be, a New way of Life
No matter the way you’ve been, there’s always a way forward, always a way through. Even if the way looks nothing like you thought it would, nothing like you hoped it would, there is still hope and still a way forward.
For every person who has faced a no-way sign on the way to their dreams, WayMaker is your sign, that there is hope, that there are miracles, and that everything you are trying to find a way to, is actually coming to meet you in ways far more fulfilling than you ever imagined.