Editor's note: The following column is adapted from author Ann Voskamp's book, "The Broken Way."
Dear Self and me and you and us,
Really, it’s all going to be okay.
You’re going to be okay.
Remember when you were 16 with that ridiculous hair?
And how you’d thought that by the time you got to here, to now, it was going to be good? That by now everything would be all good.
That by now you’d know down in the very marrow of your bones, what it’s like to really live loved. That you’d be known. Fully known. And wholly embraced.
That the Big Dream would have happened, that the peace and the purpose and the Big Point would be under your skin, that the awkward would be gone and that you’d finally fit and that your life made a real difference, you’d made a real mark, and that you really mattered.
You don’t have to worry: We all get to make one unforgettable mark. And every day, with every word, we get to decide: Do we mar the world, or mark the world?
Because the thing really is: Do we ever really know which mark we make — that will matter the most? The extraordinary things happen nowhere else but in the everyday and today can always be the beginning:
Do we ever really know which mark we make — that will matter the most?
That card you signed and sealed and put in the mail, the way you smiled and nodded to the white-crowned woman bent over the still-green bananas, the way you dug around in the dirt and and left that seed or that gift of the knees and that prayer whispered for a stranger or that glass of water you handed to someone and winked because you just knew — You’ve got to remember: we don’t know when and how we are leaving the greatest marks on the world. It all matters.
Believe it: Every tremor of kindness might erupt in a miracle on the other side of the world.
And the only way to ever leave beauty marks on the world is with bits of yourself — and this will hurt. Things of realest beauty don’t bring us glory — but Him glory.
Dear you, and self, and me, and us, — Just For Today — take these words, words of Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary-General of the United Nations, words that you can take to the bank, take to eternity: “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for … the masses.” Christ left the ninety-nine for the one.
You’ve got to remember: we don’t know when and how we are leaving the greatest marks on the world. It all matters.
Where you are, with that one child, that one street, that one call, it is a noble, Christ-called thing. It only takes one person to change the world — and one individual, one soul, can be all your world.
Really, beautiful You: The most exquisite marks anyone makes with their life — are the marks done in secret. The mark that no one — but One — will ever see.
Tell yourself this when you feel forgotten and invisible and unimportant: So the celebrities get their celebration here. But the wise are the hidden who hold out for heaven — and the applause that comes from God.
And tell yourself this when you feel forgotten and invisible and unimportant: So the celebrities get their celebration here.
But the wise are the hidden who hold out for heaven — and the applause that comes from God.
This is to choose the far greater.
I know you’re brave … and you’re scared. Because you keep doing big things that seems so small and you wonder where all this is really going and you only get one life here —
And though you’re weary, you do hard things and you keep getting out of bed and this is always the hardest part — and you keep believing that Christ didn’t leave this world until He showed us His scars — and He won’t ever let you leave this world until you leave your most beautiful mark. To show Him.
So Just For Today — listen: you’ve got to keep going.
His Kingdom is Upside Down and in Him your part is large and lovely and needed and art.
So go get the milk and take out the trash and throw in the laundry and wave giddy to the neighbors because there is a plan and there is a purpose and there is a God in heaven who didn’t just ink you onto the palm of His hands but etched your name right into Himself with nails and He’s hasn’t just got your number, He’s got your heart.
He sees you, hidden in Him, and you aren’t ever forgotten because God can’t forget those right in Him. You’ve never missed the boat when you’re holding onto the Cross.
So really — you’ve got to believe it for your 16-year-old-self and 56- year-old-self and for yourself right now: really, it’s all working out okay.
Because God’s writing your story and He never leaves you alone in your story, and His perfect love absorbs all your fear and His perfect grace carries all your burdens, and your story is a happily ever after because Christ bought your happily ever after so you always know how this story ends:
You’re going to be okay.
Dear Self, tuck this away to read again whenever you need to know it again — and promise me, you’ll laugh and sing and dance a bit today?
Heaven and His Kingdom and The Feast is coming! — so go ahead and pass down the fudge brownies.
Taken from "The Broken Way" by Ann Voskamp. Copyright © [2016 by Ann Voskamp. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.