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.”
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?
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