But Just Wait Until 2017 – Letter to My 22-Year-Old Self

*I hope this post inspires you to remember the history you’ve built, to recall God’s faithfulness in your own life, and to see how far you’ve come. May this post remind you of your journey, and though it is not the same as mine, may you find inspiration to write your own letter, details of the ways He has come through for you.

Dear girl,

You with your quiet and fierce heart, anxious and sometimes fearful, yet strengthening and learning how to trust and hold on to your Maker…

Right now, you’re in one of the most exciting yet daunting times of your life. It’s that time when you just can’t wait to get out there and spread your wings, but you’re still shaking on the inside, wondering if you’re actually going to make it.

I know you just want to know. You long for the comfort that knowledge seemingly brings. You hate the fear of the unknown. It’s sometimes exciting, but for you, it’s mostly terrifying.

But don’t worry, because you’re going to learn to love the unknown. I know you think that’s impossible right now, but just let me tell you a little bit of what’s up ahead.

You’re packing your bags to travel thousands of miles across the ocean to another land you’ve never seen before. You’re doing it because you felt a tug on your heart from God, that there was something he wanted you to be there for. There was something of Him that he wants to share with you there. Terrified, you felt him saying “Come away with me, let me take you on an adventure. Learn of me.”

You got that invitation, but you were so conflicted inside. Because your heart was torn in about 4 different places. All the what-ifs clouded your thoughts. What if I miss something in one of these other places? What if this turns out to be a mistake? What if I go, and it becomes my story, always going, yet never landing? Always jumping in, but never having a place to call home?

What if I become a wandering nomad with no family to surround me at all times?

You weren’t scared of travel. You weren’t scared of foreign lands. You weren’t scared of unfamiliar surroundings, unknown situations, leaving the comfort of your home.

You were scared of being alone. 

You were scared of what God would ask of you, if you said yes.

You were scared of surrender.

But sweet girl, you’ll say yes anyway. You’ll step out with your knees knocking, your hands shaking, your heart pounding. You’ll choose to jump.

And you will find courage you never knew before, and you’ll see that He will catch you, literally.

You’ll step off that 25 hour flight, into the foreign soil, into the dark night, and collapse in exhaustion and tears of fear. Your heart will scream out, “Why am I here?! What am I doing?!” 

But then an angel of a woman will step in and lift your head, and pull you up into a big hug, and hold you and speak over you, “You thought you were falling, but He’s catching you.” And she’ll hold you tight while you cry and cry.

And during the days to come, you will find a strength deep down inside you, that you never knew was there. You will transform.

You will become a woman there, on that foreign red clay next to the ocean, in temperatures hotter than Florida.

You will become a woman in the dust filled villages and sleeping under mosquito nets and taking cold showers and eating only rice.

You will come to know God in a way you didn’t before.

You’ll look every day at the calendar hanging there on the wall of that tiny hut-like house, with fear still in your heart of what lies ahead.

But every day, a little bit of that fear will be exchanged for a little bit of excitement and glimmer in your eye.

And then you’ll leave with your head held high, unafraid of what is up ahead, but more excited and joyful and hope-full than you’ve ever felt before.

Oh Hannah, if you only knew what’s up ahead.

Some of it is really terrifying. You will enter a very, very hard time soon. You’ll go from that hard time, right into a harsh and terrifying winter. But if you knew that now, it would not help your heart.

Some of it is wonderfully amazing. You will stand and stare at what He does and what He gives, with your jaw hanging open that He could be this good. But if you knew that now, you wouldn’t need faith.

At 22 you will begin your hard season. It will nearly break you. You will cry out every day “Where are you, God?” You will cry more than you laugh. You will be full of anxiety. And fear.

You will live in an apartment with 3 other girls, and it will be good, but then it will get really hard.

You’ll have to learn what it feels like to depend on others, because you won’t have a car. You’ll need to get rides everywhere you go. You’ll feel like a burden and a nuisance, and it will test your can-do, independent attitude.

You won’t have a job at first. But you’ll get one right when you need one, but it will barely cover your expenses. You’ll be poor.

You’ll be without air conditioning in that apartment all summer long when there is literally a drought in the area.

The guy you thought was your husband will slowly and painfully break your heart.

All your expectations will be shattered.

You will ask more times than you can count “Why did I ever come here?!”

But girl, it’s only going to get harder.

In 2013 you will enter in to the darkest season of your life. It will be winter, literally and figuratively.

You still won’t have a car.

You’ll come so close to losing your minimum wage job, due to unforeseen circumstances.

You’ll move into a house where, while unpacking your boxes the first day, your gut will tell you: Something isn’t right.

A situation will arise that you never saw coming. You’ll literally be scared for your own life, in your own home. It will start slowly, but increase in intensity to the point where you literally stand in your living room and cry out to God, out loud, for Him to intervene and break in. You will text a bunch of friends one night to pray hard because you are shaking with fear on your own bed, in your locked bedroom.

And then, in a few short days, one of the friends you texted will fight for you. She will make a way for you to get out. The situation will change almost overnight. In one week, you’ll be right back in that house, yet completely at peace. Because God will literally make a way where there is no way.

You will see that He hears you, sees you, and answers your prayers. You will come to know Him as the God who fights for you, when you can’t fight for yourself.

Then a few more years of disappointed expectations will land you on your bed in tears. You’ll feel unseen and unnoticed by everyone around you. You will feel like no one cares. You’ll go on a lot of dates with (mostly) sweet and well-intentioned guys. You will like some of them. But something will hold you back.

You’ll get a new job you love at first, until the flaws are revealed, and you realize things were not as they seem. Your managers will be the hardest people you’ve ever worked for in your life. You’ll spend a good almost 2 years there, all the while on a mad job search, begging God to make a way and give you a new job.

You’ll be tested more than you ever have at that job. There will be things you enjoy about it, but it will stretch you and build your character more than you ever thought.

But Hannah, if you can just hold on during these hard years, I promise you, you won’t believe what’s up ahead.

In 2015 you will meet a man who pursues you in the perfect way. He will take such good care of you. He will be patient, kind, and steadfast. He will win you over. He will truly love you for who you are, and make you feel so happy and secure, and you’ll feel at home with him. That’s how you’ll know.

You’ll get in a car accident on a rainy night with a semi involved, and end up in the hospital for an overnight stay. That boy will be right by your side from the moment the police call him from the side of the road where you’re sitting, shaking and crying. He will take you home, sign a bunch of papers when you can’t move the pen to write because you’re numb and in shock, wrap you up in a blanket, sit with you, give you water, and drive you to the hospital. He will not leave your side until he drives you home the next day. He will take care of things and prove that he loves you through his actions.

In the summer, that boy will ask you to marry him, and you’ll say yes.

You will move into a beautiful house with amazing roommates who become friends.

You will have a car, and a better job, and you won’t be fighting so hard anymore. It will be such a peaceful season; a restful breath of fresh air from all the fighting you did before. You will learn how to let God love you again, and you will feed on his faithfulness in seeing you through.

But that’s not even the best part.

In 2016 you’ll marry that man, and the season will go from the sweet peace of spring, to the amazing joy of summer right before your eyes.

You will ask God for a specific job that seems impossible for you to get, and in 3 weeks, you’ll get it upon just walking in to the hiring director’s office. You’ll walk in unemployed and then leave with the job you prayed for.

You’ll live in a cozy and adorable apartment with your husband, that you will make your own. It will have a fireplace, high vaulted ceilings, and a view into the treetops.

You will love married life – it will come so naturally. It will barely feel like work, just that you’re living life with your best friend, and you always have someone there in every season. The security you feel will be unmatched.

 But just wait until 2017.

You will find yourself on a mountaintop of God’s goodness. You will have a few panic attacks and struggle with anxiety, but they will be nothing compared to how God comes through for you.

Unexpectedly, you will get a huge promotion at your job, with an offer letter your husband will frame, and a raise that will make both of your jaws drop.

You will become pregnant with a precious little life, and you’ll hear it’s heartbeat. You will stand at church the day after you find out about this little life, and start crying during the song about how He is good, because He’s even better than you thought.

You’ll get to go on several really fun trips in the fall – California, Seattle, Florida, and have several of your best friends from out of state come to stay with you during the year.

Your heart will be so full, more full than it’s ever been. You’ll be blown away by God’s goodness, in blessing you for seemingly no reason – just because.

Sweet, wild, passionate, devoted, faithful girl, you can do this. With God on your side, and you on His, you can do anything.

So pick your head up and choose to walk by faith. Because even though you have no idea what’s up ahead, the truth is that it is far more vivid and colorful than you could even imagine.

There will be mountains and valleys, winters and summers, tears and bubbling joy, but girl – open your eyes wide and wake up for life. Choose to be fully here, because you’re not going to want to miss a moment of it.

You won’t want to miss the hard parts, because they are sweet reminders of His presence and character in disguise.

So be here, for all of it.

You are going to be OK.

You are going to make it to the other side.

You are going to hold on through the hard valleys where you can’t even see to take one step, and you’re going to come out laughing and singing, knowing He has led you perfectly.

The story isn’t over yet, but now you know a little bit more of His character.

You have known him as the one who leads you, the one who fights for you, the one who hears your cries and answers you, the one who is abundantly good for no other reason than he wants to be, and so much more.

Just look at the history you’ve built with him during these years.

Keep going, fix your eyes straight ahead, and only look back to recall his faithfulness and remind yourself how good He is.

This is true, abundant life.

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