A Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self

At our church in Illinois, where we were stationed previously, the pastor posed the question, “If you could write a letter and give it to your 18-year-old self, what would it say?”  The question, although not extremely profound, tumbled around in my head in the days and weeks that followed. I believe that it impacted me so greatly because the list of warnings and bits of advice I would write to my younger self was rather lengthy. When it came down to it, I found that at the core of all of my past regrets and bad decisions was an apparent lack of direction … a lack of Christ.

Despite attending church as a youth, I never owned my faith or had a relationship with my Savior. I had questions but they were not being answered and the gospel message was not being lived out in my home. I’m from a big blended family where both of my parents have been married and divorced numerous times. I was loved but I was not raised in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). I lived with my father who was very strict. We were given responsibilities at a young age; we were taught to respect our elders and dress modestly.  I didn’t hang out with “the wrong crowd.”  My curfew was 10 p.m. and any male friends I kept company with had a firing squad type introduction to my dad. I was taught to work for what I wanted, and I maintained good grades.

The testing came when I joined the Air Force at the age of 17. Of the many things I had been taught in life, nothing prepared me for that freedom! I had a moral compass but found myself without an anchor. I was “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). I was introduced to alcohol and began to pursue the party scene. By the age of 25, I was soul sick and looking for a change. So I joined the Alaska Air National Guard. The part-time service allowed me to go back to school full time. I was surrounded by friends, peers, and co-workers, yet I felt terribly lonely.

Then God. Never would I have guessed that my supervisor would have such a profound effect on me. While I learned the ropes of my new job he made big waves with his small talk. We talked about church, beliefs I had grown up with, and questions that I had about the Bible. For the first time my hard questions were getting scriptural answers. I was really receptive to what the Spirit was saying to me through my co-worker. God was removing my heart of stone and giving me a heart of flesh. The transformation was painful but grace was a soothing salve for my wounds.

I surrendered my life to Christ in February of 2003 and laid my life at the foot of the cross. God began to work on my heart. I began to check my motives against His word and make decisions that I thought would be pleasing to him.  So drastic were the changes in me that some of my friends and family members were left confused and confounded. That’s when I began to realize that Christ in us has such a profound effect on those around us.

While I may not actually be able to travel back in time and give a letter to my younger self, there are younger women right now who can learn from me. I can testify to the mistakes I’ve made and to the redeeming power of Christ in my life. Whether they attend church or not I can explain the importance of pursuing a love relationship with Him. When they ask the hard questions, I can point them to the scripture and teach them how to find the answers for themselves. I can set an example for younger women by the way I serve God and others and how I love my husband and children. Best of all I can share how God relentlessly pursued my heart. Regardless of who you are, where you come from, how you were raised, or the choices you have made Christ loves you and He pursues your Heart. (Luke 15:3-7, Romans 8:31-39, 2 Peter 3:9, Romans 5:8)

– Amanda Geaney

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