- Sarah Nicholson
- Malindi, Kenya
- This blog used to be about me and my new husband starting our life together in Brookhaven, Georgia. Now, 8 years, 3 children, and 1 trans-continental move later, I'm writing for me; to document the emotional and spiritual journey I am on so that I don't forget the paths I have traveled in my heart and mind.
Monday, May 8, 2017
I just recently turned 33 years old, and, as birthdays generally do, this one made me think back about my life and ponder all the things I have and have not done. There have been so many occasions that made me think, "if only I knew then what I know now, things could have been so different!" I try my best to live my life according to the motto "no regrets" and I have told this very thing to my mom many times, but the truth is that regrets still plague my mind from time to time. This year, however, I have had some different ideas about myself and my life and I decided to express them as letters to myself.
Dear 6-year-old Sarah,
You are still so uninhibited and undaunted by the problems you have not yet faced. Moving from the country where you were born and lived in up until now to the United States is undoubtedly a huge challenge for you. This year you will be enrolled in three different schools, spend many Sundays in a new church with a new Sunday school, and live in three different houses. If I had written this letter last year, I would have told you to "hang on to your French"! What comes so easily to you now will not come so easily to you later and you will mourn the loss of it. But my message to you today is this. You do what you need to do to make it through this transition, and making it through will be the first of many times you surprise yourself by how strong you can be. Yes, another language is incredibly useful, but it certainly doesn't determine your worth, and the most important things are to continue finding yourself, stay close to your family, adjust to a new culture and school and church, and you are going to do these things beautifully.
Dear 13-year-old Sarah,
This is undoubtedly the hardest year of your life. Take courage! Life gets better! I know that right now you don't like the way you look. In fact, you may have a hard time finding something about yourself that you do like. You are incredibly smart, although the cool kids don't value that very much. And that certainly won't catch the cut boys' attention. You will quit piano this year. Oh how you will regret that! Piano is a talent that you could have carried with you for life and used for yourself and others. Last year I would have written to you and told you not to quit. But my message to you today is this. Do what you need to do to make it through the year. Life is hard, and it is especially hard when you are thirteen. The important things now are not to lose yourself in becoming what others want you to be, not to compromise your values to win others' approval, and most of all don't lose hope. Let go of what you need to let go of as long as you stick to these goals. In the words of Dr. Seuss, "kid, you'll move mountains!"
Dear 22-year-old Sarah,
You have come so very far! You made it through high school, and college was a breath of fresh air. You have a new sense of confidence and a new sense of self. You made it through your summer internship in Africa and a summer internship working with a high school youth group. You are at the starting line. You will choose to go to grad school and get a PhD in genetics. You won't know exactly why and, to tell the truth, neither do I. Last year I would have written you and advised you to do something else. Go to med school. Go to nursing school. Get licensed to teach. Do something that can be used in a way that other people can understand and that you can feel good about. But my message to you today is this. Go to grad school. You will learn so much more than you even realize at the time. You will learn how to express yourself in front of people and on paper. You will learn how to ask good questions and how to think critically about problems you are faced with. You will learn about working with others and taking criticism. You will learn how to get back up after being knocked down over and over and over again. You will make priceless relationships, and you will begin unpacking your faith in a place where most people disagree with you. I think this last one might possibly be the most important. You will want to quit but you won't. Soak in all these lessons, because I desperately need them now. In fact, I'm still finding out what all I learned in those grad school years. Don't worry about making the right or the wrong choice just move forward with confidence in whatever you decide. God is big enough to work through you and carry you through whichever path you choose.
Dear 32-year-old Sarah,
You have a beautiful family that means more to you than anything else in this world. You live in a third-world-country, fairly isolated from your own culture except what you see on Facebook and Instagram, which doesn't usually leave you feeling very good about yourself. Your body looks different than it did ten years ago. You aren't really sure what your life is about. You live in Kenya with a dream that you and Chris can change the world for a few people over here who desperately need a chance, but you don't get to participate in that dream all that much. Hang in there, mama. Life still stretches far beyond diapers and bedtime stories, or so I'm told. Pretty soon you will learn not to regret the things you regret now because life is big and important and regrets are small and petty. You've got one more letter to write but you aren't ready to write it. I think one day you will be. There are three things you can do that you will never ever regret: 1. Spend time with your kids. 2. Spend time with Chris. 3. Spend time with the Lord. So be about the business of those things. I'm not sure yet myself, but that last letter may just write itself.