Admittedly, the title of this post seems a bit self-indulgent…and perhaps seemingly a little bizarre, because at 24 years of age I’m presently not actually a great deal older. But in the intervening years, I’ve learned a heap of stuff and God has worked His wonders in my life immensely. In the journey of life, I’ve also benefitted enormously from those who cared to tell me their experiences to build me up. And so I write the core things that I would tell my anguished, 18 year-old, struggling-with-an-eating-disorder self, in the hope that someone reading this (who is going through the same) may feel encouraged, or look to the future with greater hope.
- Stop killing yourself. There are some pretty awesome things waiting there for you in your future: your husband, your daughter, a university degree, abundant joy, lots of travelling and meeting so many interesting people. You wouldn’t want to miss out on all that.
- Having said some of the great things that are coming your way, don’t for a minute place all your hope in any earthly relationship/activity, or think that anybody else/anything can make you make you happy, or make you complete. It is only God and His presence that satisfies, fulfils and brings a deep joy. Your mama, your spouse, your children, your education, your friends, your career, money, acceptance etc. cannot please you always. After all is said and done, you will lay your head on the pillow at night and will still be left with an emptiness within that gnaws at you. It’s only the Holy Spirit’s presence and your walk with God that can fill that. Seek God. Read His Word. Pray always. Just be quiet and wait for Him to move. You’ll find everything you need there, I promise.
- Honour your parents, even when they don’t deserve it or you don’t understand why they are behaving in a certain way. Your best interest is usually at the forefront of their minds. Also don’t forget that for them, seeing you emaciated, unhealthy and on the verge of a self-inflicted death is upsetting and hurtful; so be patient when they get angry. Honouring your parents will also teach you the kind of humility that Jesus lived out himself.
- The approval of society is, in fact, not worth an iota. Acceptance from men and women is temporary and changes with the wind. Don’t compromise the unique beauty in you to please somebody else. There’s something special about you that nobody else has, so don’t lose it in a bid to please society. EMBRACE what makes you different (inside and out).
- You don’t actually have to ‘fit in’. You don’t. And why would you want to? It’s kind of boring to act, think, be, and dress like everyone else. So hold your head up high, be bold and confident.
- Affirm yourself daily and constantly. Whenever you’ve a bad hair day or feeling pretty bad about yourself, choose to reject evil thoughts about yourself. Instead of saying “I look ugly today”, immediately rebuke those thoughts which tear you down and appreciate God’s glorious handwork in you, build yourself up: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My body is amazing and beautiful for it was the Lord who crafted it. Thank you God, for making my eyes/hair/mouth/belly/thighs/legs…so beautiful!”
- Happiness is a choice. You don’t need to let anyone take away the joy that is rightfully yours through their actions or words. Do you want to be happy? Joy is there! You just have to be ready to take it, to choose it, to live it out.
- True love is not a feeling; it’s a lifelong commitment and a choice to stick with someone through thick and thin (whether a family member, a friend, or a spouse). True love is selfless, kind, and does not rejoice in evil. Express this kind of love always, with God’s help. It will be pleasing to God and it will make your relationships healthier and stronger. It will make you happier, too.
- Treat others how you want to be treated. Even if someone disrespects or offends you, clothe yourself nevertheless with dignity and respect. And don’t lose your faith in humanity; there are some people out there who are selfless even to the point of death. Or selfless enough to drop everything for you, just to help you at your hour of need.
- Look at the children around you; you can usually learn a lot more from them than you can from any adult. They embrace life and live it to the full. They run, laugh, eat, and are merry. They look at themselves in the mirror and smile, even revel in their reflection. Don’t let life’s circumstances make you jaded. Learn from the little children!
- You should not tolerate being defined, treated, demeaned, judged, or limited according to your appearance. For anybody that is more interested in dissecting your body, your clothes, your make-up, and your hairstyle rather than simply hanging out with you and enjoying your company, you may want to re-think whether you want them in your life.
- Don’t let comparison steal your joy (okay, I stole this from an unknown source, but it rings true).
- You’re amazing and beautiful, Rebekah. Inside and out.
Now to you guys, are there any nuggets of encouragement or life lessons that you would tell your younger self if you could? What has this journey taught you that you would pass onto your children/younger ones? Drop a comment if you feel led to do so.
Peace unto you always, beautiful people.
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