You’re turning 21 tomorrow, and because you’re a good girl who signed a school document, you won’t be going out for an initiation drink. It’s ok; I’m almost 31 and I still wonder why people get excited about their first legal drink.
We need to talk about a few things because this next decade is going to make your head spin, and it’s not just because 80s fashion comes back in style. Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that.
Speaking of style, eventually you let go of those bell bottoms and cargo pants, but it takes you a long, long time. Skinny jeans are your friend. Trust me. Or maybe don’t, but trust your sisters. They will always be honest with you. It’s time to get rid of the black in your closet and embrace colour. Learn to stand out. The shadows are full of people; you don’t need to stay there. Go somewhere else, you don’t need approval or affirmation, speak and write what is on your heart, the more you do it the more you will see that darkness is no place to live.
Keep your hair long. Your friend, Amy, always told you to do that, and you can trust her. There aren’t a lot of trustworthy women out there, and you have certainly had your share of bad friends. Don’t trust everyone. Just because someone is nice or outgoing or popular doesn’t mean they will stay with you, listen to you and nurture your heart. It’s better to go through life without friends than with bad friends. Friendship takes time to cultivate; wait for the right ones so that you can grow together.
You often feel depressed at the lack of male interest in you, and I hate to tell you that it’s going to be several more years before you go out on your first date, six-and-a-half in fact. Yeah, I see you cringing at the thought of spending most of the Saturday evenings of your 20s alone, and I know that there will be tears – many – as you wonder if there is anyone out there who will ever love you.
Would you feel better if I told you that your first date will be in Geneva, Switzerland? (Europe. Yes. You make it over there.) So this date, it’s with a man who picks you up on a motorbike, and you go out for brunch and a walk and then he takes you sailing on Lake Geneva.
Devi, it’s just the beginning.
Six weeks after that, you’ll start a relationship, five months after he tied the sails, sat down in the boat and started rambling about his feelings for you and five months after you spent 10 minutes detailing how much you loved being single, the two of you will start planning for your marriage because you will know that this is it. And nine months after the boat, he takes the day off work to surprise you in the apartment where you first met. There is a ring in his pocket. You say, Yes. To him. To a new place. To a new life. To everything.
Yes is a good word, by the way. You’re an expert at saying no, and it has protected you from many of life’s dangers, but spend your 20s learning to say yes to the good things, the trustworthy people, your faithful God. Say yes to those things and watch as your life blossoms. You will be shocked at the risks you take as you walk dangerous roads, exchange words with people you don’t know on airplanes and trains, write words of truth that others hate and learn to love and accept people into your life.
Loving people is the greatest risk you can ever take. It also brings the most wonderful rewards.
So back to the other thing – this man who you thought would never show up and then does. You heard your whole life that marriage is hard and is supposed to make you holy not happy and of course it is, and you’re going to have plenty of hard seasons of life as a married couple. But this man is going to take your lifetime hoard of marriage sermons, books and advice from well-meaning people, and his life will throw those things out of the window.
His story was written by grace, and through him grace is going to re-write your story. He’s not the man you expected, his kindness will often infuriate you and the even, unhurried, gracious pace with which he lives his life will drive you nuts, but when you’re feeling a little nutty, stop. For a minute.
He builds a roof of patience, forgiveness and grace covering you. Look at the walls he puts around you of honour, respect and tenderness. And under your feet he sets a foundation of truth and peace that hold you steady as the two of you fight your battles.
Do not despise the house he builds. This man will be the single, greatest gift you have ever received in your life. So wait patiently for six-and-a-half more years. They will pass quickly .
You should know that you won’t be having a celebratory drink on your 31st birthday either, not because you can’t and not because you don’t like alcohol. Eventually, you will discover a great love for white wine and champagne. The no-drinking for your 31st has more to do with the baby inside of you, the second in two years.
Yes, babies, they happen to you. Can you believe it? I can’t either. And no, you are still not a baby person as much as you are crazy about yours. You are still more than happy to not hold or coo over anyone else’s and grimace on the inside when adoring mothers ask if you want to hold their baby.
But your baby, your Small One, conceived unexpectedly, born after a completely natural labor and birth (and yes, you get your birth fantasy with the first one, and it was as amazing as you thought it would be). This baby, you can’t hold him enough. You never want to put him down. You cry into his neck, you weep at the sight of him, he snuggles into you and every part of your heart shatters, and you bawl from the mind-boggling, body-breaking, unending exhaustion of it all.
You paid lip service to becoming a stay-at-home-mom; even though it wasn’t something you truly wanted for your life, you still said you would do it because you knew it was the right thing to say to your crowd. Always the good girl. Well, you will have your first two children in a completely different place, one where it’s not the right thing to stay at home, where people will wonder if you do anything or if you’re just overprivileged, and ironically this will be the place where you stop paying lip service to this life and embrace it instead. Not as the greatest thing you could do with your life or your time because that is a ridiculous idea.
Sometimes you know that what you do with who you are cannot be explained and you become secure enough to know it does not need to be justified or applauded. Sometimes we do something with our lives just because we know it is right. And that is enough.
Dear girl, what else can I say about this decade? Only perhaps that even after four continents, deep friendships, living a lot of life, falling in love, staying in love, diapers and cuddles, you are still left wanting so much more. So hold on to this truth – there is more to come.
A good work is beginning in you, and the One who started it all will keep you going until the end. He will finish what he started.