Welcome to adulthood

Dear Lauren,

You’re entering the world of being an adult…and finding that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. School…part time job, house chores, and other expectations are calling and overwhelming you.

All of a sudden you realize what you’re headed towards and what you’ll be giving up in leaving your carefree childhood and teenage years behind and being an adult does not look fun.

You’re in that stage where it’s kind of tough. You have to take part time jobs that aren’t fun. No one gets excited about working in fast food, I promise you. But you have to get some job experience somewhere just so that you can say you have some job experience to hopefully get the next job that you might like a little better and then the next job that hopefully you’ll love.

You’ve asked me…”Mom…how do adults do this, go to a job they don’t like day after day?!”

You know my own experience and how I felt about teaching. You go day after day because sometimes you feel like you have no other options. You go because there are bills to be paid and obligations to be met. And in the going you try to make the best of it, but it’s not easy.

This is a critical time in your life when you can take a really close look, before bills are high, at what you really want to be about. In a way, honestly, I’m kind of glad to see this phase of development in your life just because I know it will force you to clarify what you want your reality to look like.

You’re at the point where fantasy jobs and dreams just won’t work. We all tell our kids they can do anything and be anything, but honestly, you’ve got to take a close look at yourself and say…what am I really capable of, what am I gifted at, what do I enjoy, what makes me come alive? And then start to head yourself in those directions.

You will not be working fast food for the rest of your life. Praise the Lord :). But this has been the catalyst to push you and direct you elsewhere longterm and that’s a good thing. In the mean time, adding to your bank account is a good thing too!

You’ve also realized real quick that money isn’t everything. Honestly, when it comes to your time and your fulfillment in life, money is not the top of the list. It’s required and helpful, but it’s not worth losing your soul over. This is good to realize. So many pursue the great american dream their whole lives wondering why it never satisfies. Money doesn’t satisfy.

So…I know it’s hard. I know you have to balance your time and not have as much time to squander, but I promise you Lauren…you are ready for this and taking tiny steps daily to become independent. This is good and natural.

Someday you will have your own car. Someday you will have your own place to live. Someday you will be in a job and career that you find fulfillment in. You will learn to balance your time. It won’t be like being a kid again. Those days are gone. But you will adjust and you’ll even find some real joy and excitement in doing things for yourself. I know this to be true because you were the girl who wanted to ‘do it myself’ when she was 2!

You will someday be in a job where you feel good about a hard day’s work. Where you’ll make friends and have influence. Where you’ll feel like you’re making a difference in the world. And where you’re able to provide for yourself in a way that will feel mighty good.

I am proud of you. I know the adjustment is not easy. And you’ve made it early, graduating from high school a semester early. But you’re doing it.

All of a sudden days off sure seem luxurious don’t they? :)

Please remember you do have choices. If you don’t care for the place where you are, check and see if it means an attitude adjustment and if it doesn’t, then start figuring out what you would rather be doing and take the steps to get yourself there. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

And in the mean time, as far as it depends on you keep yourself free. A heavy debt load or an addiction to stuff can cause your choices to reduce real fast. Be wise. You’ll be happier in the long run…promise.

Welcome to adulthood Lauren :)

Love your momma who believes in you, you’re gonna be just fine. And oh the stories you’ll have to tell to our kids someday.

Advice to myself when I was your age.

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

I’ve seen this done before so it’s not an original idea from me, but this morning as I was jogging in the pool back and forth it seemed like the right time for me to do it here on this blog for you two.

If I could write a letter to myself when I was your age 16 and 18 this is what I would tell myself. The reality is…you have to live a whole lot of life before you get some of this stuff, but maybe in my telling you, you’ll catch on quicker than I did.

1. Have fun. Part of my no nonsense self can’t believe this is the first thing I would tell myself as a teenager, but it is. I wish that I would’ve just had more fun and allowed myself to be more playful. You can get what you need to get done and still have fun doing it. And when you have fun the burden on your shoulders feels so much lighter.

2. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Your mistakes and failures, your downfalls and struggles really aren’t that big of a problem, not nearly as big as they feel in the moment. They won’t matter a bit 20 years from now I can tell you. Just allow yourself the freedom to fail and be ok with it from the get go. It will be a whole lot less stress and you’ll end up having a lot more fun in life. Which means it’s ok to laugh at yourself, really it’s ok. That doesn’t mean put yourself down or degrade yourself or trash talk yourself…that’s more about insecurity and a lack of confidence, but have the kind of personality and confidence where you’re ok with the reality that you’re not perfect.

3. Deal with your hurts. Recognize that you’re most likely oversensitive. You would inherit that trait naturally :). Learn to let it go. That doesn’t mean go silent, withdraw and avoid the hurt…it  means speak up when it really matters and otherwise, chalk it up to life. You’re not perfect and no one else is either. You will be hurt. For the most part it really doesn’t matter that much. Sometimes our responses to hurt far out last the actual hurt that happened in the first place and compound our problems.

4. Figure out what makes you happy and pursue it. When do you feel alive? If you don’t know than you need to get out there and engage with life and figure it out. You don’t have to have a 20 year plan or know what career you’ll ultimately land in, but by all means figure out some hobbies and things you like to do that bring you joy and pursue them.

5. Be your own person. I started dating your dad so young that my identity was completely wrapped up in being with him. Dating is great and I hope at some point you meet a great guy to date, but…you are your own person and you need to be independent and strong enough to be your own person whether there is a guy in your life or not. Same goes with your friendships. Other people are not responsible for making you happy and filling your deepest needs.

6. Figure out quick that only God can meet your deepest needs. That desire you have to be noticed and special…that’s a God sized need. That desire you have to feel happy and have dreams and hopes…that comes only from God. Anytime you put those needs on other people you will be disappointed. Other people can not give you what only God can. Cry out to Him.

7. Make good choices in how you take care of yourself. You don’t realize it now but these are the healthiest days of your life…act like it. Eat right, exercise, stay active, take care of your teeth, eyes, etc. The better you take care of yourself as a young adult the higher your quality of life will be along the way. A little bit of effort each day will go along way.

8. Have good sleep habits too. And get up in the morning and get stuff done right away so you can enjoy the rest of the day without it hanging over you.

9. Work hard…but know when to rest and make that part of your life too.

10. Nurture friendship. You’re at the age where some of the friends you have at this point could be life long friends…nurture it. No friendship is perfect. It doesn’t have to be…just put in the time and effort to know one another and stay in touch.

11. Anytime you feel yourself shopping, eating or any other activity to feel happy or to deal with boredom…take a really close look at your life and get it in check. You can not buy happiness. No vice will make you happy…or if it does it will be sudden and then gone leaving a pile of regret. Happiness comes when we have connections with other people, or when we work hard and see the results of our labor. Happiness comes from creating, playing, or helping other people. Happiness does not come from Target, or soda, or eating out. It does not come from closets stuffed with clothes and shoes. It does not come from sitting by yourself and staring at a screen all day. Life is meant to be engaged in. That is an active thing that involves other people.

12.Every day give yourself grace and give other people grace. Every day error on the side of love. Every day let yourself and others off the hook.

13. Relax…all of the stuff you think you have to figure out to be an adult will work itself out in time, naturally. Goals are good…but you can trust that as you need to know things you will, just take the next right step.

14. Trust God. Every time you feel anxious or afraid realize it is a call to trust God more deeply and take the next step to move forward. God is faithful. He will show you this over and over, but just take my word for it, you can’t count on much but you can count on God.

15. Life will be hard and sometimes really painful. But that also means sometimes it will be awesome and full of joy. Embrace both, learn from both and know no matter what it looks like that’s how it is for everybody. No one gets a free pass on pain and hardship in this life.

I’m sure I could think of more but that’s a good enough start to the list for now girls.

Honestly the stress, fear, hurts and cares you feel are so huge right now…you won’t hardly remember them in a few years. Breathe in peace.

Love your momma who so wants you to live more fully than I did in my 20’s and 30’s.

Trust

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

As you were growing up I’m sure I taught you to be careful who you trust. It’s a really hard thing to watch your kid, who is your heart walking outside of your body, trust someone only to be taken advantage of or hurt. Painful. So we parents, myself included, try to make sure our kids don’t get hurt or taken advantage of.

The only problem is, that at the same time we try to protect our kids we somehow also teach them not to trust others and that’s a really crappy way to live.

There are a handful people of in your life that you must trust and bank everything on. It will be scary, because they won’t be perfect and they will let you down from time to time…but you need to trust them anyway.

One of the great mysteries of life to me is how we give grace to one another when we don’t deserve it, in fact especially when we don’t deserve it. People who live grand, rich, full, amazing lives are really good at giving and receiving grace.

There is a difference between being abused or taken advantage of over and over and not doing anything about it and giving grace. You must figure out what that line is. I’ve had times in my life when I thought it was pretty clear, pretty black and white, but the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized this is really quite a gray area.

I’ve seen marriages that could’ve fallen apart because of broken trust, actually strengthen and grow closer than they could’ve ever been before. I’ve seen children who were abused experience forgiveness and healing and develop actual love for the person who was not good to them.

I’ve broken trust. That’s been the biggest thing for me to learn…I am not fully trustworthy myself. I am a woman in need of grace. You will break trust from time to time. You will need grace.

If you adopt an attitude that says…you have to be perfect or I won’t trust you…you’re doomed. It’s way too much to put on another person. Instead if you say and think…I trust you to do the best you can on any given day…that kind of grace will cover over a multitude of sins.

We hold people to impossible standard when we expect perfection. We hold ourselves to an impossible standard when we expect perfection. It’s just not possible.

You can either spend your life nursing hurts and grudges…or living fully, you can’t do both. Which means you must let people off the hook. Daily. You must realize that everyone is fighting a hard battle and for the most part doing the best they can. You must believe that for the most part people have good intentions.

So yes…be careful, don’t open your life and your trust to just anyone. But choose a few people whom you trust no matter what. Choose to bank it all on your love for one another. Believe the best. Even on the bad days. Let your default be love. Not self protection.

You won’t regret it.

My biggest regret with your dad is that I should’ve trusted him more. I should’ve trusted his intentions and his love for me, even on the days when he screwed up. Probably more on the days when he screwed up.

That doesn’t make sense. If you look at life as a math formula it won’t add up, but if you look at life with love and grace it will make complete sense.

Be grace givers. Trust with wild abandon. Don’t worry about being taken advantage of. The more grace and love you give the more will return to you. You might not see it right now, but girls you are gonna need love and grace in your life as much as you need food, water and shelter. It’s a basic need. Be stingy with it and you will live a life that is closed and miserable.

Notice where you feel suspicious and full of doubt. Notice how your feelings tend to turn when things don’t go quite like you hoped. Notice what you think and believe when you see the weakness and sin of people around you, their failures and mistakes, if what you believe is that you need to cut your losses and run, or withdraw from them, this will be a signal to you that you need to learn about grace.

When you trust and you get hurt…it’s hard. It is plain out hard. You will want to cut it off to relieve the pain. But as far as it depends on you…give grace, love and live in peace. That’s the secret to healing in your own heart.

Let someone off the hook everyday. Somedays you will need to let yourself off of the hook! If you are in the practice of giving others grace you will have an easier time of giving yourself some in your time of need.

Insecurity stems from a lack of trust. I have been an insecure momma in front of you. I’m learning to be confident. I am learning to trust big and give grace big. To others and to myself.

Assume the best about people. Seriously…assume the best. It will change everything, even if people around you aren’t perfect.

I love you and want you to know there are people right now in your life who have your back, they love you and would do anything for you…you can trust them, you need to trust them.

Love your momma who hasn’t been the greatest truster but is on the tightrope with you and realizing it’s not nearly as scary as I thought from the side. Trust is actually kind of relief when you’ve been prone to doubt.