Dear 21 year old self, (part 1)

21 year old meI love you. You’re fun. You love the Lord, and you have so much of life ahead of you. And all of that is good. I have some things to tell you which are really important. I thought you might listen to me because I’m you, only older.

The first thing that I need to tell you is one of the most important: learn to BE and not DO. I know we share the feeling of the brevity of life on this earth, but the answer is NOT to fill it with as many things as you can.

Trust me. This will just make you tired.

I know you think you will look back on your life and wish you had DONE more, but this is not the case. And after spending these years running at full capacity, I can say with 100% certainty it is not fulfilling or God-honoring to try to do so much. There is another way to leave your mark on this world.

If you look at Exodus 3, you can see that God calls himself the “I AM” that “I AM”. God IS, first and foremost. He is “existing one”, Yaweh, in later passages. But here, He calls himself “Ehyeh” the “I AM”. He could have called himself “I DO”, which would have been “Asah.” But instead, He introduces himself to Moses as “I AM.” This is a key point. The One who created Moses and the world–the One who had accomplished more than we humans could ever have imagined, called Himself “I AM.”

Already I can see that as I look back on my life, the things I have done are not as important as HOW I did them. Accomplishments and personal history are starting to blur together in the yarn of years, marked mostly on a calendar. Those projects that seemed so important to complete? I can’t even remember what they were. But I DO remember BEING agitated while I was busy with activity. I remember sometimes BEING snappy to those I love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 lists all these great things we could DO. And then it says if we “have not love,” we have profited or gained nothing. There it is. Again. That idea of BE vs. DO. Scripture spells it out quite clearly: DOING without BEING is a losing situation.

If the pressure is to BE and not DO foremost in your mind, then when push comes to shove, chose BE. Have too much to do? BE lovely first, then DO if you can. Dresser needs to be repainted? Dishes need washing? Kids need help with homework? BE God’s child while you DO that.

So, 21 year old self, I’m no telling you to go be lazy. I’m just saying don’t try so hard. Instead, focus on your motives and the way you are going about your life. I’ve got more to tell you, too, so stay tuned…


About saramarieallen

Poet. Singer. Writer. Mom.
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