Look at you at twenty-five: thankful, loved, working, resting, eating cake and also tired all the time, with little money, crying a lot for no reason, easily overwhelmed, drained by small talks and losing your breath after a 7-minute home workout. How unstable your life and the desires of your heart, and yet, how meaningful every breath you take.
This year, you are the kindest you’ve ever been. Forgiving is still something you’re learning to become. It’s easier to remember people by what they’ve said that hurt you and you are a little obsessed with guarding your heart and your mind because you are just so, so terrified. Of the world and its harsh words, its compromised demands, its unsettling watch over your every move, its lack of predictability. There are days you go a little crazy wanting to control, to have everything in order and in perfect alignment, and of course the time comes when you are in complete surrender, wearied by your own impulse of perfectionism, your own vigilance, your own wild, incredibly painful sensations of loneliness, smallness, quietness, and the thought of your tiny world clamping down on you. Half the time, your troubles are engineered in your mind, sweet girl. Most of the time, they are lies you keep repeating to yourself and you have to stop that now.
Your obsession with fear is also your obsession with death.
Why do you crave it? Why do you drag your own hand into the darkness and curl yourself up and beat yourself down and loathe on the miraculous being that you are? Stop it. It’s killing you. Do not lead yourself on paths that you know very well will weaken your knees. Pity has nothing on you. Why are you so afraid, so concerned, so trapped? Deep breaths, baby girl. Life spreads itself before you- vibrant and wondrous and alive. Snatch it. Thrive in it.
You’re here. God is here. You matter. Your whole life matters.
Look at where you are. The abundance that graces your life. The outpouring love from people you’ve only met for a short while. Look at how a room lights up when you walk into it. Look at how people are at ease in your presence, how they trust you with their stories, how they’re unashamed to weep, to be vulnerable, to express anger and guilt and love and fear. Look at how you open up worlds of possibility only by being yourself. Your gift of presence, of listening, of giving, of despising condemnation is making room for you and for others. You’re doing okay, Sweet girl. Learn to breathe. Learn to let people in. Answer the phone when someone calls. No one’s out to get you. People want to talk to you and hear from you and laugh with you. But my God, you’re terrified to the bone.
I know, I know how the world can be an angry mouth. I know greedy and spiteful hands are out there. I know all of it hurts. I know it could be worse. But listen to me- you can’t live your whole life holding your breath. You just can’t, Lizzert. This is your story. This is your gift. This is who you are, who you get to be for as long as you have. It’ll break my heart to see you waste away to something as hopeless as fear. Be bold, even if just a little. Learn to speak up. Ask questions when you don’t know. Learn to say no when you simply can’t. Let no one take advantage of you. I mean that.
Stop this smallness. Stop this inward curving of yourself, this stupid modesty. Stop it. Maya Angelou said the trouble with modesty is that it speaks volumes about falseness. You must know and accept that whatever you have is a gift. You are worthy of every good and powerful thing. Do not be afraid to say you’re deserving of it. You have the right to stand up for yourself. Do not minimize or crumble or coil to fit into any space. You’ve done that for far too long.
Whatever good you have, whatever strength you wield, bring it with you in every situation. Do not leave your power at the door. Don’t you ever testify against yourself. Don’t you ever declare incompetency where you’re strong and gifted. Don’t be silly with your power. Don’t be small with your gifts. That’s not humility, that’s just foolishness. Listen to me girl, the moment you understand who you are, Who lives inside of you, is the moment you can reckon with the power and love that you possess. The power to be, to accept and reject, to speak and cast out, to embrace the gift of your life, to choose wisdom. Save some money, don’t give it all out and then go hungry. Set good, healthy boundaries. Be a good friend to yourself, Lizzert. Remember to eat. Remember to cut down anything that isn’t feeding you right. Don’t be timid, silly. You have so much to offer.
At twenty-five, you’re a good listener, a good reader, a loving sibling, an incredible giver and a good tenant who pays her rent on time and keeps her room really neat. At twenty-five, you’re getting along with your mother and you’re still not sure how this is so, but you’ll take it. You can make chilli beans if you try harder (Monique taught you), you like carrot cake (Jordan baked this for you), you like Billie Eilish, you still think Oprah Winfrey is very cool, your favorite writers are Ocean Vuong and Toni Morrison and you’re very good at deleting your social media and coming back to it whenever.
At twenty-five, you want to learn: how to drive, how to cook well, how to be slow to anger, how to have good conversations, how to dress real nice, and how to love.
If there’s one thing you should remember, it is that you are loved by God and there’s not a single detail in your life that is not known and held by Him. You are never alone, Lizzert, no matter what. Breathe, you mightily blessed child of God.