If I could have my now 43-year-old self go back and impose wisdom and life lessons on my 16-18-year-old self I would have so much to tell that young girl. I would have so much to say and it would have changed my thought process all those years ago. Unfortunately, I am here and cannot go back but I can share with anyone who wants to hear the things I have learned and maybe have a different outlook than I did.
I was raised in the 70’s and 80’s. Let’s just be honest here, even though it wasn’t THAT long ago, times have drastically changed. People have changed and the way we look at life, issues in society….everything has changed. Some are really good changes, others are not. But, I can look back and remember that when I was growing up women had labels. As girls we were taught (without coming right out and saying it) that we were the homemakers, we were not as smart, worthy or able as men. We had our place in society but there were things that we shouldn’t or couldn’t do. I bought into that all those years ago. I believed I had to have a man “complete” me and “take care of me.” I was not raised to be independent and I was not raised to take the bull by the horns and be anything I wanted to be. I was not taught to value myself and my abilities. I had a very low self-esteem and I honestly felt that no one would ever love me for me….that I had nothing to offer. Yes, even with my Christian upbringing…..I felt that unworthy! Let me set this straight though; I had loving parents. I never doubted their love for me, but they too were raised with that way of thinking. Women had their place and men had theirs and you didn’t confuse the two. Women were not supposed to be “leaders,” we were meant to be followers. We weren’t meant to take care of ourselves because by-golly we needed men to do that. I cry foul! I say….thank the Lord for changing times. I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I believe in the God-given skills and wisdom that women have. We are a lot smarter than men in a lot of ways. We are fighters because we have had to be; things aren’t handed to us because of our gender. Like the old cigarette commercial….”you’ve come a long way baby.” I believe in the man’s role in society, in marriage, in parenting; but I just as firmly believe in the woman’s role in those things as well. We have a lot to offer; unfortunately I didn’t know that growing up.
I am saying all of this because I want young girls today to know that they are worthy, they are valuable and they can be and do anything that they want. Oh, hindsight 20/20, the things I would have done differently. First and foremost my relationship with Christ would have been #1. I would never have put that relationship to the side for ANY man! #2, I would have pursued my dreams with everything I had. College wouldn’t have been a choice, it would have been a requirement for me! Yes, I never finished college and that is one of my biggest regrets. I would have gone away for college; not stayed here at home. You don’t know what you are capable of until you get out on your own. You have to do that. You have to take that leap of faith to know that you are strong, capable and able. I didn’t know that about myself. I had too much doubt that I would have failed, and instead of trying; I failed anyway because I didn’t pursue my dreams. I turned down a FULL-BLOWN scholarship to Liberty University because of FEAR! Don’t let fear win. Don’t let fear overpower you and don’t let fear dictate your life. I did and I have so many regrets because of fear and instead of looking fear in the face; I ran from it.
Fear kept me from leaving home to go away to college. Fear kept me from believing I could be anything I wanted to be. Fear made me feel that I was unworthy of love and would never find someone to love me. Fear was my enemy and it is used by the devil to paralyze you and for me, it did. Don’t let it do that to you.
I struggled…..my 20’s were VERY hard. I was in and out of bad relationships trying to find the love that I never believed I was worthy of. I ALWAYS dated the wrong guys….not that the guys I dated were bad, they weren’t bad; they were just bad for me and I was bad for them. The relationships were rocky and were never started on a firm foundation with Christ. Again, I always put my relationship to Christ 2nd….that was my #1 problem.
Let’s just say, when Dennis got me I had lots of baggage. I still hadn’t learned…..I was still struggling and I was still placing all my self-worth and value on the love of a man. Dennis did love me unconditionally. He accepted that baggage, even though at times we struggled with my baggage. He knew I didn’t love myself and he truly tried to help me overcome that. I never stood up for myself. I allowed myself to be a doormat my entire life and I never fought for what I wanted or the things I thought were right.
Then…..I had Hannah. Yes, it took me having a child with special needs to learn to love myself, value myself, feel worthy of my husband’s love and the love of others. It took this little girl to teach me how to fight for the things that I believed in and she taught me not to be ANYONE’S doormat. She taught me to truly not care what others said or thought and she also taught me the most important thing…..my relationship with the Lord is the MOST important thing in my life. Trusting Him, serving Him and loving Him….nothing is more important than that. Having Hannah opened my eyes to all the things I believed in, that were wrong. All those things I believed growing up that were false and believing them was my downfall.
Women are worthy, we are valuable, we can do anything that we set our minds to. We can do it ALONE if we need or want to. As a woman, you are not required to get married and have children. It is okay if you choose a career over family. It is okay to pursue your dreams and put marriage and family on the back burner. It is okay to be self-sufficient and independent. My advice…..don’t worry about boys….decide what you want to do in life and finish your degree, get your dream job in a city that you love. Work, save money, enjoy your life and then if you want marriage and family, then let GOD bring that man to you. Don’t go looking for him….trust me, I didn’t go looking for Dennis and in fact, I was very hesitant to even go out with him the first time because I had just gone through a horrible divorce. Don’t put your value or worth into anyone but the Lord. Trust yourself, love yourself and learn to take care of yourself. You will never be able to love anyone or take care of anyone until you can first, love and take care of yourself.
I have so many regrets and yes, the devil, at times tries to throw those regrets in my face. At times, I allow him to and it makes me very sad. I look back and see the mistakes I made, the life-altering bad choices and the consequences for those bad choices and scars I still carry today. Do it better than I did…..love yourself….you are worthy….you are valuable….you have so much to offer….you can be and do anything you choose to be or do. Have no regrets.
To end this, I will say…..God’s grace and mercy is amazing and the way He works is quite interesting. Most people know I never wanted children. Yes, I would have been perfectly content not having a child. But, you see, God knew that Hannah was going to be the only way to get me to see my own worth and value. She was going to be the only way for me to completely TRUST Him, to pick up the pieces of my life and learn to stand up for myself and love myself. I learned to fight for the important things and not worry about the unimportant things. I learned to value my life and my worth and learn that God loves me in spite of myself.
Yes, I cannot go back and redo the last 25-26 years and in all honesty, there are times I still regret and wish so badly I could turn back the hands of time. Although, if one young girl reads this and can change the course of her decisions and life; then maybe that is why God allowed me to travel the wrong path for so long…..to show His faithfulness, His redemption and His grace. He provides all of that and more. I would just rather others see it through my bad choices and not make any of their own.
Until next time………