I have lived a wonderful life. I really have. But I was realizing yesterday that when I cruise back down memory lane there are a few years in there that I prefer to speed past... because if I linger on them too long the unanswered questions surface and heart-ache overwhelms me.
It wasn't all bad. I made deep friendships that I still treasure today and I learned a lot about myself.
But mostly. I wish I could go back and do it again. Because if I'm honest with myself, I feel like I missed out on all that it was meant to be.
So yesterday as I was washing the floors of my elderly friend's house I decided to think about what I would change if I could go back. Because even though I can't go back, I can learn from that time. And I can make the most of where I am today. So that someday many years from now, I won't wish I could go back to this current time in my life and do things differently.
Also... maybe through reflecting on my own missed opportunities, I can encourage any of my friends who are still in high school. Because this time is so special for you.
For some reason the letter L kept coming up... so I've decided to organize my thoughts on "going back" with L words.
If I could go back to high school, I would...
by definition this words means to be beautiful or attractive, especially in a graceful way. very good. very likable. very pleasing. in high school there was so much pressure to be "hot", or be popular, or to be what wanted the guys wanted. i remember specifically a time when the guys were making a list of the "hot girls" and then rating us on a scale of 1-10 according to our features. that's intense. but if i could go back i would like to pursue being lovely. to me this reflects more on my heart than on my outward appearance. though its funny because the older i get the more i realize that the most beautiful people outwardly are usually the ones that exhibit grace, kindness, confidence, and selflessness inwardly. so if i could go back i would want to trade the pursuit of popularity for the adventure of pursuing loveliness.
be a Listener.
listening helps us realize that we are not the only ones in this story of life. there are other hearts involved. other families. other struggles. other needs. if i could go back i would want to listen better to the needs of my family members and friends. even to people that weren't my friends. people who maybe longed for friends. i'd also want to listen for the voice of God. He was there. but i wasn't looking for Him. if i could go back i'd look for Him. i'd also listen better to my own heart. there were dreams in there. hopes & desires. needs. but i neglected them because i thought it was more important to fit in and appear okay. if i could go back i'd be more open in times when i didn't feel okay.
be a Learner.
the future felt so far away. school felt so unimportant. older people felt so irrelevant & unable to connect with me right where i was. but if i could go back i would position myself as a learner. i'd pay more attention in German class. and math class. i'd learn more about how to apply for college. i'd spend more energy pursuing time with people older & wiser than me. i'd work harder on my homework. maybe i'd even host homework parties. we would all get together & eat snacks & drink yummy drinks & get our work done. i'd work harder at things like sports or dance or whatever hobby captured my heart at the time. because learning is good and the future is closer than i realized. and often the things that are most tempting to quit are the ones that will be the most important later on.
be a Lover.
if i could go back i'd be a lover. lover of family. lover of friends. lover of my school. lover of my town. lover of celebration. lover of life. lover of Christ. i'd spend less time hoping people loved me & more time loving being right where i was. fear would take a back seat and love would drive me. i'd look for little ways to love... at home, in the classroom, in the hallways, at the game, before the recital... and i'd look for big ways to love... raising money for the needy, hosting parties for the lonely, spending time & energy caring for those who couldn't care for themselves. i remember how stressful life felt. but i am learning that life will always feel too big for us to handle. its not until we get higher perspective and think outside of our own circumstances that we recognize the extravagant capacity we have to love like Jesus no matter where we are.
I can't go back. But I can be here now. And I can do all of these things in life right now. Because I still feel those same struggles that I felt back then. I still would rather be popular than be lovely. I'd still rather focus on myself than listen to those around me. I'd still rather be led by my feelings of happiness than by a commitment to learning. And I would still rather focus on whether or not people love me, than on being an extravagant lover. So while I'm still trusting the Lord to heal my aching heart and redeem some broken years in my story, I am looking ahead with faith that the future is bright & I can become today everything I've always desired to be.
photos by Sarah Grunder photography.