11 things I’d tell younger me.

Last night at work, one of my coworkers whom is several years younger than me jokingly asked, “So in your old age, what’s some life advice you’d give your younger self?” And I laughed and told her something along the lines of “boys have cooties.” And didn’t take it too seriously. But today I’ve been thinking about that question, and here’s a more serious answer:

1) You are beautiful, loved, and cherished. It’s true. It sounds cliche, but you might not hear it often enough from the people that matter most to you. People are bad at showing love. They are bad at saying it. But don’t take this to mean that they don’t feel that way, especially your family. I guarantee they do love you very much, no matter how rough your relationship with them has been.

2) You do not need sex to verify your worth. You are precious. You are amazing. Don’t ever hinge your worth on some boy’s attraction to you. You are inherently valuable as a human being, an individual with thoughts and feelings. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. If he belittles you, walk away; if he insults you, walk away; if he manipulates you, walk away; if he is disrespectful of you, walk away. You will not make him change by being with him. The only thing that does is tell him he’s doing something right. After all, you’re still there.

30 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” -Proverbs 31:30

3) Sex outside of a committed marriage is destructive. Save yourself. Value your purity. And if a boy does not value your purity as well, run. He will destroy your heart. And this man will come to you many, many times in different bodies, many times claiming to be a man of God. And he will give you “godly” reasons why what he’s doing is okay. Run. Run fast, run hard, and don’t look back. Sexual temptation is the only temptation in the Bible that we are told not to fight, but to flee. It’s because you cannot fight it. And God knows that. Have discernment. Sex says, “You are mine and I am yours, surely and irrevocably.” This is not true in the case of dating relationships. Outside of a marriage, you and your partner are not giving but recieving. You are receiving pleasure, not giving of yourself to make the other person happy. It is not selfless, it is selfish. It is not love of another, it is self love. And this will destroy you later in life when you have memories of so many others while you’re with the one you truly love, who truly loves you, once you see and experience what true love is, and realize that you were giving pieces of your heart to people you did not share this with. The Song of Solomon shows us a godly, loving relationship (and yes, there’s lots of sex).

4) Don’t ever make your joy or your worth contingent on a boy. I know this is somewhat redundant, but it is worth repeating. A boy should never be the determining factor of your joyfulness. If he is, your joy will be ever fleeting and running from you. You will never be happy. Humans will disappoint over and over and over and over. They will hurt you, especially the ones who love you, but it’s still worth loving them. They will let you down, but it’s still worth trusting them. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Your worth is in Jesus. He chose you.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” -John 15:16

And a related video that I find incredibly amusing, so here it is:

5) Love. They say you must love yourself before you can love others. I think it’s the other way around. You must learn to love others before you can learn to love at all. True love is self-sacrificing and self-denying. True love is being hurt but still loving as hard as you can. True love is seeing yourself making hard sacrifices for another person, and doing it even though its the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But be careful, and be wise in whom you invest your love. You can’t get it back. It’s important to understand the difference between a human who makes mistakes (everybody ever), and someone who is just using you over and over again.  And then there’s the Biblical definition of love in 1 Cor. 13. Print this out, hang it on your wall, memorize it. It’s important.

6) Be confident. You may feel like your opinions and feeling don’t matter. Maybe it’s because you tell yourself that, or maybe it’s because other people have made you feel that way. It’s not true. Be confident in your opinions and your feelings. There is only one you, who thinks and feels like you do. You matter. Your thoughts matter. It’s how you’ll figure life out, through your thoughts and feelings. It’s how you express yourself. Don’t shut down your means of self-expression just because someone told you that your expressions were dumb. Find some way to get them out: write, draw, create, dance, sing. Something. It will be a life-saver, I guarantee it. You were made for a purpose that only you can accomplish by being exactly who you are.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” -Psalm 139:14

7) On the same note, be humble. Realize that you don’t know everything, and neither does anyone else. You can’t. You never will. Realize that some people are older and wiser, and their advice is worth listening to. You don’t have to take it as law, but at least listen. You’ll be surprised what you can learn (yes, even from your parents). Never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you begin to wither away. Be open to new lessons in life, even from people you may disagree with. Listening will never cost you anything but a couple of minutes.

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'” -James 4:6

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” -Philippians 2:3-11

8) Be careful what you say and how you react. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. What you say can never be revoked. Be a good listener. Hear what people are saying before you try to respond. Hear what they’re saying before you try to fix their problems, and realize that the listening is sometimes all they need (also a big hug). This will make you a good friend, and it will make you somebody that people trust. It will also be difficult to bear the burdens of others, because they will want to lay them on you. Make sure that you don’t cause yourself to suffocate under the weight of the world, because Jesus has already done that for us. Point people back to him. People will make you angry, and people will insult you in your life. But don’t take it personally. They are probably just taking out their frustrations on you in an unfair way. The meanest people are usually the ones who are hurting the most.

“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.” -Proverbs 12:16

9) The sun always comes back out. No matter what you are going through right now, no matter what storm you face, the clouds will part and the sun will come back. Remember that constant sunshine makes a desert. It takes the combination of rain and sun, night and day, to make things grow. Even plants don’t photosynthesize and grow in the same light where they collected their energy. They do it at night.

33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

“Whenever there is a cross to be carried by any of Christ’s followers, He always bears the heavy end on His own shoulders.” -C.S. Spurgeon

10) Absolutely nothing that you ever do will ever be beyond the unfathomable grace of your heavenly Father. Sometimes you make mistakes. Okay, you’ll make lots of them. And some people are going to either tell you or make you feel that those mistakes are unforgivable. But that’s absolutely not true. Jesus died on a cross for you, bloodily and horribly, and according to the book of John, you were the last thing on his mind as he died there. And then the (other) amazing part that all of Christianity is contingent upon, he rose again. Death did not keep him in the grave. It didn’t slay him. Sin was slain, Jesus was not. And he did it for you, and God’s wrath was brought down upon Jesus so that you could be one of God’s children.

“When God laid sin upon Christ it must have been in the intent of his heart that he would never lay it on those for whom Christ died.” -C.S. Spurgeon

11) Trust in God. He knows you better than anybody. Trust that he knows you, loves you, cares for you, and cherishes you, even enough to send his son to the cross to die for your transgressions, for your broken, sinful heart, so that it could be made new, be healed, and become whole in him. He has a plan, but we may never know the full extent of it until we see him face to face. Maybe not even then. That sounds discouraging, but it’s not. It means that ultimately, the responsibility for everything is his. There’s no need for you to control everything, and when life is out of control (as it so often is) he’s still controlling it. Be responsible, and be wise, but depend on him. And never forget to prayPrayers do get answered. He does hear them. He cares about every single one of your cares, worries, burdens, trials, and your happiness, joys, and smiles. He sees them all and he cares. Never forget that, even through all of the shitty things you’ll experience, up until the point that you’re writing this to yourself.

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).