Note to old self (best of “Day by Day”)

I felt cute in this circa 1980 photo with my new Dr. Pepper outfit and hair freshly shampooed with “Smooth and Silky.” 🙂

I just looked through an old box of high school stuff. Wow, what was I thinking? The cheesy poems, the things I kept (sugar packets from Disney World?). Some things, I’m tellin’ ya,  belong in the past—Case in point, a “to do” list that Teen Ava stuck in her journal. I wonder if her priorities sound like someone you know:

1) Lose fifteen pounds. (I mean it, Ava! Do it this time! Stop eating and start exercising!)

2) Get a man. (Well, at least get a date. Doing #1 will help #2 happen.)

3) Stop biting my nails. (Will a boy ever want to hold your hand with gross fingers?)

4) Be more outgoing. (Seriously, who in your math class even knows who you are?)

Right now, decades later, I’m reading this with tears. Its author—me!—breaks my grown-up heart. Teen Ava was so hard on herself, sucked into the world’s lies.  I want to hug her, smooth that beautiful,frizzy hair, and tell her it’ll be okay. God has not forgotten her. And His plan is way better than anything on that list.

So today I’m rewriting it, replacing each item with truth. Hopefully, your own list is more confident, more Biblically sound. If not, then I pray this new draft inspires some tweaking:

1) Lose fifteen pounds. Be kind to your body. Use it for good, not punishment. Eat healthy food, build strong muscles. That’s what God wants, your body needs, and your spirit desires. (Now ditch the scales, walk to the bakery and enjoy a whole-wheat muffin!)

2) Get a man. Forget boys for awhile. Right now, focus on God’s love alone. Relax–you are perfectly normal, attractive, boyfriend worthy–and one day God will send him your way. Until then, know you’re a great catch who just happens to be single.

3) Stop biting my nails. Walk with confidence, not fear. God’s got this, whatever “this” is. Just focus on today and do what’s right. Repeat tomorrow. And the next day. Then, I promise, it will work out. Give the future to God, and let those cuticles rest.

4) Be more outgoing. Be yourself. So what if you’re naturally quiet? Or interested in things your classmates aren’t? You were specially, uniquely made to show Jesus’ love. Do this in ways that only you can. Your happiness lies here. So does your purpose.

I think Teen Ava would approve of these changes. 🙂 She’d breathe easier, knowing that growing pains fade with time. That God uses every experience for good. And that young women of the future—those 21st century daughters of God!—would use her list to expose the lies. And, I pray, embrace sweet Truth that’ll set them free.

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This post first appeared in Dec. 2010 under the category “Day by Day.” I’ve tweaked it just a bit. During a short writing break in July, I’ll feature several “best of” posts from past blogs. Enjoy, and I’ll be back with fresh inspiration in August! ~Ava Sturgeon

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