The Lara of Christmas Past

The other day I got a letter in the mail from my former self.

Bear with me, this actually did happen.  Tom handed me a letter and said "did you mail yourself a letter??"  I thought "No!  How ridiculous!"  I picked up the letter and then thought "Oooh, I kinda like this handwriting."  And a moment later "Oh, yeah, I definitely wrote this to myself."

A long time ago, my friend, Erica, and I had a small Bible study kind of  group that we led.  We would take turns leading, and it went a little something like this:

Lara's turn:  Talk about our deepest issues, maybe cry it out, and applaud any time somebody says something remotely intelligent.  Do lots of icebreaker questions aka cheaps and deeps... some questions are easy (cheaps) and some heavy (deeps.)

Erica's turn: write poetry by candelight, express yourself through painting pottery and inserting your name into scriptures and taping it onto your bathroom mirror.

It was a good blend of my useless jokes and her deep, symbolic thinking.  We called it "Circle" and we reunite about twice a year and do fun things like play "Project FUNway" where you have to transform a hideous bridesmaid dress into something fabulous.

So, we are coming up on our annual Christmastime reunion and I open the letter that Erica made encouraged me to write to myself as one of our exercises.  I wrote it begrudgingly at the time, but when I opened it and read it as if it was from someone other than me... I was kinda blown away at how nicely I could speak to myself.  Maybe it was because I was writing it at the beach by candelight (this is true) and because Erica had a pocketknife at my back forcing me to write it. (this part is less true.)

Anyways, the letter arrived right when I needed somebody to tell me some very specific things.  I was surprised to discover that it was younger ME that came through when I needed her!  I learned how much more productive I could be if I encouraged myself instead of being so verbally abusive.  I would absolutely, never in a million years talk to another human being on this earth the way that I talk to myself.  So, it was a much needed mercy to receive a gentle and encouraging rebuke from the one person that usually gives me a verbal backhand.

I am sharing the letter because it explains why I am a Christ follower.  I have a deep fear of being that pushy Christian everyone vomits about, so please know that I share this because I have a lot of readers who do not  understand my faith, let alone share it.  Perhaps this will help some understand what I believe and why.  If nothing else, it should explain why you should mail stuff to yourself.

Dear Lara,
   Jesus died on the cross for you.  He did this not for your captivity- to shame, guilt, fear - but for your freedom.  He is making something beautiful out of you.  Let yourself experience the freedom He died for.  Be as free and as beautiful as He has created you to be.
   I know that you feel like a failure; like no matter how hard you try, you will always slip back.  But, you really are pure in His sight, being made new.  You are a holy vessel.  You are set apart for His use, never to be used for unholy causes.  Do not let Satan convince you that you are unholy - he is your greatest enemy in this life.  Make him sorry he ever messed with you.
   Some day your children will rise up and call you blessed.  Just stay present.  Keep working hard.  Get up early to pray.  Accept them always.  See them.  Let them see you.  They will forgive your mistakes - if you can really be present - they can forgive anything.  Every moment with them is a gift. You will never regret plugging in.  Be truly grateful for everything. It's all from God.
   You are not your past, or your parents, or your problems.  YOU. ARE. HIS. BELOVED.
                                       I love you Lara,