I have been journaling in starts and stops my entire adult life. I have 3 or 4 journals that span decades. I recently picked up an old one and read an entry and was stunned at what I read. It was dated my birthday in the year 2000. I had just turned 31 years old. This is what I wrote:
I’m 31 and feeling emotions that I can’t name. I don’t know if it’s depression, regret, or just sadness. But it’s something. I figure if I didn’t write about it in this journal, I would probably look back on this birthday as pretty decent, which it was. But at this moment I just wish it would go away. I’ve got this image of how I want things to be or turn out. They include happy smiles, a warm feeling, and total appreciation for the moment as the moment occurs. But at 31 I’m thinking I’m incapable.
I have wanted that feeling my whole life – desperately. but have experienced it only enough times to count on one hand. Have I lost that forever? Has cynicism won over contentment and joy? I honestly don’t now how to find it again. I thought it would come back when I moved back to California because I felt like I lost it in Washington – but maybe I lost it through living and it will never come back. Instant and wholehearted gratitude and thanks seem to be lost in the things, however minor, that aren’t easy, right, or helpful. Something has died inside of me. A drive, or enthusiasm for anything life throws me is gone. Is it because I lost Dad? Is it because I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life? Is it hormonal or chemical? I don’t know. I’ve got the picture in my head. I’ve seen it, heard it, and felt it in my head. I just don’t now how to make it happen. So happy 31. I just get older and uglier from now on. And that’s the plain truth – every one does and then they die. That’s just where I’m at right now and I thought I’d write it down. ❤
Isn’t that crazy sad? I literally wanted to reach into the ink on that page back to my 31 year-old self and scream as I shook that woman and tell her that things would get worse before they got better but they WOULD GET BETTER! And that picture in her head would become HER LIFE! Contentment and joy would be found!
It has to be similar to the perspective that God has when we are going through hard times. HE KNOWS what will happen in the future. He is outside of space and time. He must want to give us the biggest hug and tell us how everything is going to be ok in the end if we would just stay strong and trust Him.
When I was 31 I was beginning a new life in California. My son was 5 and my daughter was 4. We had just purchased the house I now live in, but escrow had not closed yet. My husband just started the job he recently got fired from where he met this woman he is now with. It marked the beginning of a period of tremendous spiritual growth for me because we started going to a very strong church with solid teaching. It marked the end of being a mom to toddlers and the beginning of the “school age years”. It marked the end of my teaching career and the beginning of my take whatever job you feel God lead you into period that landed me the job of a lifetime and more personal fulfillment than I ever thought possible. It was right after my Dad passed away but before my husband betrayed me. I could not have imagined what happened in my marriage.
If I was able to have a conversation with myself I probably would have had the most terrific argument I’ve ever had. Because I would have defended my husband to the death. I would also never in a million years believed the story of meeting Martin in Ireland. Never. Reading the words I wrote at 31, I realize that I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what it was. I know I felt lonely. Other entries make that clear. I am struck by how little I mention my husband and when I do I am wondering why he is how he is. There was a distance even then. I didn’t know what I was missing I just knew I was missing something. Maybe the best thing I could have said to myself is this.
“Stay true to yourself and your faith and you will see that you have not lost anything because you never had it. But you will have it someday. It will surprise you and it will be after great heartache. But it will happen. When it happens don’t be afraid of it because all of it, the good and the bad will transform you into a grateful and live-in-the moment kind woman who will have a strong faith and more contentment and joy than you could have imagined.” I would give myself the biggest hug ever. And say one other thing. I would say…”when you are 41 you will look hotter than you do now so quit bagging on yourself.”
Maybe I will take my own advice at this point and quit bagging on myself so much. I still do that.
I wonder what I will have to say to myself 10 years from now? Who knows. And that is as it should be. I will stay true to myself and keep plugging along and maybe have this to look back on and maybe I will be smiling. I hope so. No matter what happens, I’m certain I will be even wiser and closer to the Lord.