What I would tell my 20-something self (Back to the Future)


In the first movie of the “Back to the Future” trilogy, Marty McFly was sent back 30 years to the 1950s when his parents were dating. The sequel opened by launching him into the future to save his children; he then returned to the past before arriving back in the present (1985) by the time the movie ends.

The year that was so “future” at that time was … 2015.
The date has come and gone. I’m living in the future ~ well (actually) ~ the post-future.
Suddenly I feel so old.

Talking to my 20-something self

If I could pack up in a DeLorean time machine and travel back 20+ years, there is so much I would tell myself.
The question is, “Would I listen to myself?” Probably not.

I bet you feel the same way. What would you tell a younger you?

Before we go there, let me ask you a different question.

If your 20-something self were transported to the future and dropped in on your present life today, what would she (he) think of you?

Would she be shocked at how your personal life turned out, disappointed that all the plans she lined out for your career went astray, or mortified that you STILL haven’t conquered that sin? Would she look around and say, “Seriously, I expected more from you than this!”

I’m pretty sure mine would. For a number of reasons.
Partly because of who I was at 20-something.
Partly because of who I expected to be at 40-something.

I thought I’d be further along by this time

When I was 20ish, I had a pretty good handle on life. In fact, before I had children, I was an expert on parenting. My husband and I would sit in restaurants and look at others with tired, overstimulated, tantramatic kids. (I know, it’s not a word – but shouldn’t it be?) We’d watch them and declare with such confidence, “Our kids will never…”

Well, guess what? They did.

Now, I wasn’t completely judgmental and self-assured. I did realize there was much I didn’t know.

In fact, I’d look at the 40-something moms of older kids and imagine myself in their place one day.
From the outside, they looked like they had it all together.

I just knew that 40ish was the magic stage of life when you would have grown and matured into the confident, well-Bible-versed, sin-under-control, prayer warrior woman of God.
You could then enjoy the latter half of life as a Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 woman, shining a light for all those who came behind.
Ok, maybe I exaggerate the full expectation, but you get the general idea.

I regularly find myself assessing, “I thought I’d be further along by this time.”

I can’t believe that the spiritual disciplines are still such a struggle, that my mind continues to be a battlefield, and that my list of things that need to be overcome is still so long. Truly, I expected more of myself.

Life is one big repurposing act

And so, the first thing I would tell my 20ish self would be this:
Life doesn’t behave according to your plans and timelines; in fact, it’s one big repurposing act.
And the goal isn’t perfection in this lifetime – it’s progressive sanctification as we journey toward heaven.

Even Paul noted about his progress,

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect,
but I press on to make it my
own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
(Phil. 3:12)

I started a list of all the verses where the idea of “enduring,” “be steadfast,” “don’t grow weary,” “don’t lose heart,” etc. show up.
It’s long and I’ve only just begun.
Scripture bears testimony that sanctification is progressive and spiritual growth will require much perseverance.
But still, we do expect more of ourselves.

This is healthy when it’s applied as a continued effort to grow in grace, empowered by the Holy Spirit to daily die to self and reflect more of our Savior. That’s good.

But when we begin to judge ourselves, holding our progress up against our perceived view of others or against our human expectations of ourselves, that’s when we cross the line into a damaging self-conversation. That’s NOT good.

What about you? Is it time for you to retire those self-imposed expectations that you crafted back when you were such an expert on what life should be?


Keep Reading: More Posts Like This embracing-the-journey

Encouragement for believers embracing the journey and seeking contentment.

.

Christi

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Author | Occasional Speaker | Marketing professional ~ · ~ I write and speak so others know they aren't alone and are encouraged to grow in survival-grade faith. ~ · ~ Books: Behold: A Christmas Advent Journey and  Revival: 6 Steps to Reviving Your Heart and Rebuilding Your Prayer Life

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17 Comments on “What I would tell my 20-something self (Back to the Future)”

  1. Christi, Your words have been an answer to pray for me this morning. I woke as I typically do….overwhelmed and wondering how I am going to make it through another day.

    Twenty years ago I was on the verge of asking for a separation from my husband. His behavior was irrational and chaotic. We had a 2 year old that was not meeting his developmental mile stones and we were broke due to his medical expenses, and running late on our house payment. The next year I did ask for a separation and then we found out my husband was ill. I remembered my vows and returned to the marriage – in sickness and in health. His illness was the reason for his behavior.

    Today our son has the diagnosis of Autism and my husband lives in a nursing home. Life is so hard. Condemnation swirls in my mind as walk this path as a single married Mom of a 20 something son. Grief and sadness are a constant companions for me as I try to figure out what to do next for our son. I am always on the look out for ways to teach him how to live independently and daily monitoring of my husbands care at his home is a constant concern in my mind. When I stopped half way through your posting and asked myself what my 30 something would have said…she did not answer with condemnation. She said “Wow – you really have done a lot. I can’t believe you stayed married…that must have been really hard. Our son…look he’s made it too – all of those worries I had – he’s really doing well. I guess I didn’t need to worry so much after all – and look at all of the wonderful memories we have built. God has provided.” (I know I got the math wrong I looked back 20 years – not to my 20-something)

    I was taken back for a moment, surprised by the positivity and told myself “see you need to be more thankful and worry less” then realized – I’m not doing that right either…uhg!…feelings of exhaustion seeped back into my mind and body. I went on to read the rest of your post…the words “repurposing” caught my attention and then the verses you listed form Philippians hit me like a ton a bricks..tears rolled down my checks and peace filled my heart. Everything I do is not imperfect…I am pressing on and it’s OK that I have not achieved what I want or what I think God has called me to do. It’s OK that life has not happened like I planned or re-planned, re-planned, re-planned a million times…I just need to focus on today and what I’m being called to do right now. (The re-planning has always been done in prayer)

    As I woke up I asked God to give me hope and I asked him why this battle has to be so long…..when will it end? How am I supposed to survive living like this? As I walk into today I am re-affirmed that all I need to do is look for Him, His provision and His purpose for me today, lay the rest down and stop looking at the “supposed to’s”. Please pray for me as I do this…I’ve signed up for your emails now and I’m looking forward to the encouragement and joy I will find.

    1. I have very few words, but so much admiration for your strength, courage, and resolve of faith. Praying for you now and honored to have you share part of your journey. I do hope you are encouraged by being here.

      Humbled to have been used in a small way this morning,

      Christi

  2. Hey Christi,

    It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who thought he would be further along. Your reflections on parenting made me smile too. I remember the days–before I had four girls–that I thought I had the parenting thing figured out too. Thanks for a very relatable post. It made me smile and makes my life feel more normal :)

    1. Oh, new friend. If something I wrote made you smile and feel more “normal” than I can take the rest of the day off! That’s exactly why I write – so we know we aren’t alone. Thank you so much for leaving this comment!

  3. Hi, Christi! I believe this might be my first time stopping by your place for Grace and Truth. So, I’m pleased to meet you! I can relate to your 20-something self because I certainly thought I would have it more together, too. Sometimes I joke that God gave us our second-born to humble me. What I appreciate most about these words, though, is your reference to that work in progress in us – because that’s my focus lately, too. It keeps me from discouragement! Thanks for sharing with us last week! :)
    Jen @ Being Confident of This

  4. I would tell my younger self to enjoy the moment more. To stop looking to the past or the future. As I look back now there are so many times I could and should have been much happier right where I was right then. God’s grace is amazing. Thankful this lesson finally took hold. Enjoy a blessing-filled weekend Christi!

  5. “You mean you’re STILL struggling with weight?!” LOL ok I guess you were looking for a more sanctified question.
    There are some things I still struggle with that I thought a 50 year old would have conquered by now.
    There are a couple things I struggle with now that I never thought would even be on the table.
    And, there are a few things that my 20 year old self would be so proud of me for overcoming (teenagers, for one).
    Yep. The renovation is still happening in this gal’s life. Thank God He doesn’t give up on us.
    New phases bring new realization of things that need tossed or refined.
    But I know the Refiner. Praise God!
    Thanks for the reminder to measure ourselves by the truth of God’s Word. There is no person on this earth harder on me than me. Such truth here, as always.
    And as the old hymn goes, “Let it gooooo, let it goooo…”

  6. “Wow Michelle! Your life did NOT turn out like I thought it would…at all! But, your kids are more awesome than I ever dreamed, and you are stronger and more determined than I ever thought you capable. And your God…He was more present and faithful than I ever thought possible in real life! But still, things turned into quite the train wreck there for a minute. Glad that wasn’t your last chapter.”

    1. This makes me smile on so many levels. So true. All of it! And there’s a ton I could add, but I’ll save it for my endorsement of your book :)

  7. Always right on time with your words my sister in Christ! Thank you for sharing God’s wisdom. Love you!

  8. Christi, having just watched “Interstellar” this weekend, I’m not sure my brain can process any more past-future-present scenarios. :-) But I’ll give it a shot for you!

    I wrote a somewhat similar post awhile back (I called mine “What Would You Tell Your 10-years-younger Self”), so I enjoyed reading what you wrote for today. Ten years ago, I’d been through some trials and thought I pretty much had things together. I certainly never thought much about where I would be in 10 or 15 years! Now I see that those early trials were just one step in the sanctification process and that I was far from having everything together (still am, for that matter)!

    I love how you describe life as “one big repurposing act.” I also think you are “much further” along than you realize, and that the wisdom you’ve gained along the way is a huge blessing to me (and many others, I’m sure)!

    1. Lois, you have become such an encourager on this journey. I hope that life allows me to hug your neck one day! Thanks for all these words. If you find your stats indicating someone searched for that post, it will be me!”

You have something worth saying!