Today I share part 1 of a letter written to myself for my 26th birthday. My prompt? These words from A.W. Tozer: “When our Lord looked at us, He saw not only what we were — He was faithful in seeing what we could become! He took away the curse of being and gave us the glorious blessing of becoming.”
Dear 16-year-old Abby,
Tomorrow, you turn 26. And though you’re still unmistakably Abby Maurer-now-Murrish, the years between your 16th birthday and 26th birthday have shaped and formed your thinking and affections in ways you never anticipated. You’ve attended college, worked an assortment of part-time jobs, researched food insecurity, lived with roommates, dated, graduated from Purdue, got your first full-time job, married, moved, started freelancing, became a member of a church, bought a house and adopted a dog.
You’ve added Turkey, Germany, China, Japan and India to the countries you’ve seen. You recently returned to United Kingdom with your husband. For the first time in your life, you’re not living in Indiana. You miss those sunsets over corn and soybean fields. You have been a witness to death’s reach, and you have rejoiced over new life.
Because of all of this (and more), you’ll change in the next 10 years. Here are 16 things you’ll learn, 16 ways you’ll change. These aren’t things you’ll simply wake up one morning and decide to believe and do. God’s will takes its course and life shapes it.
Read this list with wonder (excitement even?) over how you’ll arrive at these beliefs, convictions, actions.
You will throw your list about your ideal guy out the window. You’ll learn more by going on dates and hanging out with guys than by reading about the perfect man you should marry. You’ll be very surprised by the guy you marry (read: he will not the male version of you), and it will be beautiful, imperfect and God’s grace in your life.
Many issues that you think black and white (capitalism, creationism, gay marriage, capital punishment, immigration, welfare, feminism…) will fade to gray. While working through the issues are important for the flourishing of society, you’ll realize how little you know with certainty. Let’s just say your 16 year old self would likely be appalled by your 26 year old self.
On the other hand, some issues will become more black and white. You’ll hold to the Gospel and the ethics of the 10 Commandments with far more confidence than you ever thought possible.
Work is not a means to an ends, but a glorious end in and of itself. Your work — whether studying for an exam, making someone a latte or writing a story about weeds — is how you fulfill the call to exercise loving dominion over the earth as an image bearer of God.
Biblical womanhood is not about becoming a mom, staying home with your kids and having a certain physical appearance and lifestyle. Your desire to bear eight children is no more, and as weird as it sounds, Tina Fey is going to help you understand what it means to be a Christian who is a woman.
Fey explains that when she studied acting, she didn’t understand what to think while onstage: “I’d be standing there thinking, “Hmm, how does my hair look?” But with improv, the focus is clear: You’re supposed to be listening to the other person so you know how to respond.”
So it is with your womanhood. Stop thinking about your hair and waiting for your next lines in the play (dating, engagement, marriage, babies, etc…). Simply listen and pay attention to the life God is giving you, and be ready to respond with strength, dignity and laughter.
Cultivate a conscious materialism. Our goal is not a Buddhist existence of ridding ourselves of stuff and distraction. Nor should we mindlessly consume. The Lord created the world and it was good, and we image him through creating and enjoying.
Observe the Sabbath. You were made to rest. Rest is not weakness and there is no glory in in burning both ends of the candle.
Never make decisions out of fear. As you start thinking about applying for colleges in a few years, you’ll be tempted to attend a small Christian school because you’re afraid you won’t find a husband or strong community at a “secular” school (we’re not even getting started on the term secular).
Fears like those (and the lies that birth those fears) are BS. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and walk confidently where he leads. Wherever you go, he is at work. And that is enough.