Have you ever written a leetter to your future self? It's a good exercise to do. What would you say? How would you expect to change with the passage of time? Will you stay supple in spirit as you age? Kathryn Chinn gives us a good example of such a letter, writing the following at the end of her World Race.
Right now you are sitting on the roof in some random village in India. The sun is setting over the tobacco fields, the top half of the sun is yellow but the bottom is red. It’s beautiful. The air kind of smells like burning trash and you have bug bites all over you because fire ants got on your towel. How’s that for the finale of a nice bucket shower!? The sun is about to disappear, and so are your last two weeks on the Race. There are some things you need to remember forever; so I’m about to remind you.
You have never experienced love the way you have on this trip, but this is just the beginning. You never knew your capacity to show love, but you also never knew how much others could love you in the simplest ways if you let them. When you don’t feel like loving, turn to Christ, that’s where it all comes from anyways. Remember, love is an action and not a feeling. You got much better at not having a stern-face this year, since that doesn’t translate well culturally. Be aware of your face!, it’ll make you more approachable. And if you’ve learned anything, it’s that people need to be able to approach you if they are going to be able to approach the Christ in you.
Words are powerful. Speak life. If you see even the slightest bit of beauty in someone’s spirit, call it out and it will grow bigger. After all, that’s how you grew in compassion, because others like Andrea and Ada saw a glimpse of it and called you higher in that through encouragement.
Christ was a servant; therefore, you are here to serve others before yourself. You are entitled to nothing. Don’t have expectations; life is just better that way! Don’t expect people to act a certain way, for your day to go a certain way…if you get stuck in traffic or plans fall through or have to wait a really long time (which you did a lot of this year), embrace it. LIVE IN THE MOMENT. You are only promised this moment anyways, who knows if you’ll even finish reading this letter from me. Appreciate everything and everyone while you have them, but never dwell on what or who you don’t have with you. So many times there is nothing to be done about a circumstance except to be patient and make the most of it, remember that…no expectations.
Right now, you haven’t brushed your hair all month, you’ve worn the same pants everyday, you don’t wear make up because you’ll sweat it off.. but you are beautiful still. That is because ‘Pretty is as Pretty does’ as your Nanie would say…and wasn’t she Pretty. You are beautiful because God says so, and because there are little girls downstairs who look up to you. And you are going to go play with them even though you’re tired and don’t feel like it; because that is the most you can do right now to show God’s love. Don’t forget that beauty on the outside is deceitful, if your heart is hard and self-centered. Stop looking in the mirror and go spend time with someone; you don’t necessarily have to talk, just do something for them, or rub their back, or just be there.
Freedom. That’s been a huge topic on this trip, to the point where it annoyed you sometimes. Why all this talk about Freedom and no talk about Discipline!? That’s so you. Chill out, would ya! There is a balance, and you need to embrace more of the freedom side of things sometimes. Remember, ‘you are a Soul with a Body,’ not the other way around. Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up, 1 Cor 8:1. Never obsess over obedience and theology at the expense of Grace. Do you hear me? You do this, so evaluate your heart and make sure you aren’t forgetting what the Cross was for.
Do not idolize adventure, just like anything else, it will not satisfy for long. You’ve seen the darkness in idol worship this year, esp in Thailand, Nepal, and India. American idols are just the same, although they don’t hide in forms of statues.
Some great things happened this year, and some crappy things happened too. You were always ok because your identity is in Christ. Even if life is hard or you are down, you can still have joy if you choose it. You can do anything; seriously…remember the village in Thailand? Or team leading? Or just Malaysia in general? Remember leaving home and saying some really hard goodbyes? Remember when you slept in 15 different places over the course of one month? The only reason you made it was because you weren’t alone by your faith. He is your sustainer. Never ever say you can’t do something and never ever quit, or else I’ll be really disappointed in you, and you’ll be denying God the chance to potentially do something great through you. ‘I have learned to be content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.’ Phil 4:11-13
Lastly for now, your family and friends rock. Especially your family. You are lucky girl. If you are reading this with someone who loves you near by, get up and go hug them. Don’t be lazy…go do it! At some point during this trip, they probably said something you needed to hear at the exact right moment. If it’s your parents or your brother then hug them even harder. You never slipped their mind or heart for even a moment this year; they are so good to you.
Well future Kathryn. Old you is about to pray that God solidifies all these things in your heart and that they don’t just stay there, that they over flow from your very being. You should bow your head and say a prayer right now in the present too. Because although this trip is almost over, the way it will glorify Christ is not if you remember all He taught you.