Let me just say this, who you think you will be in ten years is quite different from the idea that you have in your mind. And that’s ok. Most of them will look absolutely nothing like you imagine, in the worst ways and in the best.
Take as much time as you can over the next ten years, but REALLY the next three years, and love your family. Spend time with them. Especially your dad. Have conversations that are hard and uncomfortable, but that bring clarity to questions you’ve always had.
Don’t be afraid of your dad’s illness. Don’t be afraid of depression and anxiety and to get close to it. And to pray against it. It is the loneliest path that anyone can walk. You will encounter it too, and when you do, LEAN into Jesus and people who are like Him. They can act like big giant pillows. Seek out truth about yourself and about the promises that God has for you. He loves you SO much you can’t even dream.
But go ahead and dream a little, because He will likely blow any expectation that you have out of the water.
Let people love you and try and not to put up walls to “protect” yourself. You know what I’m talking about. Know that there is a difference between boundaries and a wall. Boundaries are healthy and wise. Walls are hard and sturdy, and while they will keep things (i.e. relationships) out that will hurt you, they might also keep things out that will help you. Not all hurt is horrible. Some of it will break you within what you think is an inch of your life…and then you’ll see a little light in the cracks…and you’ll start to come back together. God will build you back and he’ll make you more ready than you were before the breaking. He is stronger and steadier than any man that will ever walk into or out of your life.
And carry that truth into every potential dating relationship that you go through. And just for the record, there will be less of those than you think, but don’t let yourself be discouraged by that. It’s a gift…which I realize sounds like a total load of bull. But it’s not. From 29 year old single (*gasp* I know) you, I PROMISE IT’S A GIFT. You will think around you’re junior year of college that since you aren’t married that you’ve failed at something. And then at graduation. And then when you’re 25. And then finally a few years later once most of your friends are married and having their [second] children, it will kind of start to slightly sink in that it is ok. In the words of Bob, “Every little thing, is gonna be alright.”
Ok, back to it. Seriously, don’t ever put the expectation of perfect love on a man (or any person for that matter) because he will let you down. Every time. And not because he wants to, but because he’s human. There’s grace for that. You’re mom will talk to you about a million and twelve times over the next ten years about expectations and how you shouldn’t have many and it will drive you absolutely crazy. She says this all in love and because she will do anything and everything she can to protect her girl. And while there’s a lot of truth to what she says, you can ALWAYS have expectations of God. And they can be good ones. BELIEVE Him for the good ones. You always told people in high school that “God is sitting on the edge of His seat waiting for a chance to prove Himself faithful”. Don’t forget that that doesn’t just apply to the people you’ve told that too. It goes for you too, sweet girl. He is not a father that punishes His kids. He wants to hold your face in the palm of His hands and tell you that He only wants GOOD for you, for all of your days. And then to wipe your tears on the days when you have a hard time believing that because you live in a really broken world, with broken people, just like you. He welcomes your unbelief and your authenticity. When you come across emotions that feel gross, sometimes it’s a gift to sit in them for a little. Because do you know what happens when you sit still? God shows up. He will meet you in you in your hurt and your grief, in all your pain and discomfort and anger and unbelief. Don’t be afraid of those.
Frankly, say no to fear as often as you possibly can. The enemy has a funny way of disguising fear as so many different things. But do not be fooled. It is so easy to give into it and it has the ability to RULE your decisions. Do not let it. Stand with wise people who can recognize it in your life and who will call you on it. Those are the best people. Say no to the critics and yes to people who cheer you on and challenge you in ways that will push you to grow. Keep growing. Always be a student. There is always something more to learn.