Dear Renea.

two week series on learning from the past and looking to the future…

Dear 19-year-old Renea,

The practical choice is not always the best choice. You’re a practical person by nature. This is a good thing in its own right, but it also has its own set of shortfalls, and in and of itself, pragmatism won’t get you the abundant life you long for which Christ came to give you. Because you often ask yourself, “What is practical here? What’s the logical choice?”, at times, better questions for you to ask yourself will be “What do I want? What do I hope for? What do I dream of?” (Just as for those who lean in the other direction the better question at times will be “What is practical?”)

You will find you need to ask yourself these questions in all areas of life from decisions about the classes you’ll take to the jobs and positions you’ll take, to your love-life and your spirituality. (In your 20s you’ll read a little book called Messy Spirituality that you’ll wish you’d read when you were 16. But that’s another letter for another day.)

You make decisions with your reason, with your head, which has lots of advantages, but these other questions are questions for the heart, the emotions. So it will feel, well, terrifying. But you’re not alone; they’re not decisions you have to make yourself. You’ve always been good at choosing friends and surrounding yourself with loving, Christ-oriented community. Lean on them. Trust them. Nine times out of ten they won’t let you down, and when they do, it’ll be okay. By God’s grace, you’ll make it through together and be stronger for it.

Don’t be afraid of failure. With the courage to fail you’ll gain the strength to succeed. As Ms. Frizzle always says, “Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy!”

I’m proud of you. And don’t worry: who you are is great… even when, especially when who you are is different.

With love,
Your 29-year old self

Renea McKenzie is a student, a teacher, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a shepherd, writer, movie-lover, and Whirlyball champion. She loves God’s Word and God’s people, reading and thinking, playing and laughing, living and learning (okay so she doesn’t love to “live and learn,” but she seems to do a lot of it anyway). Sometimes she writes about it over at Speak What We Feel, sometimes in 140 characters or less: