Leave it to Facebook to remind me what I looked like or where I was, last year, and the years before.
This week I will be 48. And, having arrived at 48, it doesn’t seem very old. However, I remember thinking that it was. As much as it irks me some days, Facebook birthdays are reason enough to stay online.
The well-wishers come in droves. My second cousin’s third wife’s step kids will even send over a “Happy Birthday Cousin!” And while this is sweet, I don’t think we are cousins in any fashion. Also, I have never met them. I probably never will, especially now that said second cousin is on wife #6 and all these wives, exes and steps live in New Zealand.
Facebook is reliable in ways of contact and information.
And you can be certain if there is ever a tragedy, where 12 siblings are in need of a home after their parents were killed by a bear in Canada while camping someone will tag me.
This I don’t understand. I already adopted children. Just because I did it twice, doesn’t mean I can do it twelve more times. Tag yourself. My work is done.
Of course, you can never be sure. Because when I got my “10 Years Ago Today!” alert from Facebook, I was a million miles away from the girl pictured in the memory.
What might have been depressing to some, was delightful and mysterious to me. 10 years ago, at 38 I had just run a half-marathon. I looked a lot better, I guess. But my spirit was broken, and I should mention, I was starving. Physically I was legit, starving. Emotionally I was starved to be better and stay starving. Spiritually, I was entirely depleted.
I remember posting the “brag.” It was a brag-worthy moment. And, at the time, I would have told you it was who I was and would always be.
I am glad I was wrong.
Truly, I have wondered what it would be like to walk up to 38-year-old me and tell her what would happen over the next ten years, just to see the look on her face.
First, I would say, this is the last time you will run this decade. You can’t keep this up, also, for all that is good and holy, go eat a double cheeseburger. And then I would tell her, “you might want to sit down, it is about to get weird up in here.”
Next, I would tell her, you will have 3 more children. Your dream of adopting is far from over. She would probably argue with me, there was no way. Maybe I would show her pictures, or maybe I would let it be a surprise. Either way, I might tell her, you will have three more children, but you will only get to raise two of them. That thing you say you could never do? You are going to do it. You’ll be entirely destroyed, and entirely restored.
But there is more. Ten years from today, you will be turning in your third book to a publishing house. She would think this was insane. Primarily because she wasn’t a writer. She never wrote anything more than checks, which would be completely obsolete, and Facebook posts.
I would have to tell her to be quiet for once in her life. And she would literally have to bite her tongue to stop from speaking.
It is true, you will have just finished your third book. In your first book, you will unravel Jesus and fall into the arms of grace. And, in your second book, you will unravel motherhood. This book, the third one, you will unravel you. And this day, the one where you were a size 4 and starving to death, it will be in there. Oh, and you will be chubby… and full of good food, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Again, I would have to tell her to pipe down, her argument being, “chubby and self-control don’t go together.” I would apologize and tell her, “Well, Girl, you are just going to have to ride that ride, taste and see, you have no idea. Also, that will be the title of the third book… Well, Girl: An Inside Out Journey to Wellness.”
Perhaps, this would leave her stunned enough to keep her quiet for another hot minute and a half.
But I doubt it.
I would go on to tell her that toothy ten-year-old boy pictured next to her, would continue to nearly break her. But he would also be her hero, a precious image of restoration. He will write the afterword to her second book and he will make her laugh a thousand times more than he made her cry. And the other children pictured? Well, the 14-year-old girl will marry a thespian, travel the world and make embroidered hoops for a living, as a successful small business owner. The eleven-year-old boy will become a Marine… and the redhead in the background, she will be his wife.
At this point, I imagine she, being me, would be weeping hysterically.
The seven-year-old girl, she has only just begun to stun and amaze you. I would brace her, being me and say, “Jami, she is in the National Honor Society, she is graduating at the top of her class.” This would be the hardest thing to comprehend as, no one in our family has ever met with this kind of academic success. Also, comprehension was fluid at that point in my life.
I suppose I would rattle off a few other unbelievable tidbits. You will be a professional speaker and royalty artist. Oh, and you will move to Houston. You and Justin will sell the ranch. Justin will be your business manager and continue to be your best friend.
You will write a blog post that will be read by 1.5 million people and counting. You will lose nearly everything and then gain even more.
And I guess, I could tell her how to cope and tell her about how wrong she is about Jesus. But then, having written out what I would tell the 38-year-old me, the girl Facebook reminded me about, I would probably decide to let her be surprised.
On second thought, I would just leave her alone.
I would scroll right past her, without a breath of warning or regret.
When she posted that picture to Facebook she thought she was getting old. She was terrified of the hereafter. And while she knew the scripture, the one where God knew the plans for her, plans for hope and a future, she did not believe Him, because she did not know Him.
Of all the things behind the broken half-smile, this God, whose ways are perfect, was not anything at all like she believed.
Facebook, with all of its faults, has its blessings. And when I posted that picture ten years ago, I couldn’t have known what an enormous role it would play in my life. The social media monopoly would be the place my words would expose me and change the course of my future. It is where I would meet some of the most important people in my life, gain a career, and blossom in a ministry.
A ministry I could not have even fathomed.
And the thing about Facebook and the cyberspace where we now dwell is that it isn’t even a tangible thing. And yet, I owe it much. If it were to disappear tomorrow, I would be sad that the images and chronicles were lost. I would be lost without the contact with people, I have no other way of connecting with. Seriously, in an apocalyptic existence, I couldn’t even reach my own children, my phone holds all my information. I don’t know their phone numbers. But I would be remiss if I didn’t pay some homage to this thing that took me on a journey from “Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying,” to… “Girl, you are not going to believe what is going to happen next.”
My dad who is 70, is in the Bahamas with a volunteer recovery team. When he turned 30, I cried myself to sleep because I thought thirty meant he would be dead soon. Forty years later he is sleeping on a hurricane wrecked beach, having spent the day cleaning out a flooded school. The older I get the younger 70 seems.
At 48 I am a mother to a 7 and 5-year-old, which makes me feel old, and simultaneously young. Probably not as young, vital and hungry as I felt in that 10-year-old memory, but young nonetheless.
There is very little of that girl I wish to preserve. And the god of her heart was the biggest surprise of her life thus far. He is nothing like the god of ten years ago.
They say time will tell, these days the statement should probably be, “time will tell and Facebook will remind you.” And as I finish this composition there is a twinge of worry, “what will I have to outline at 58???” But I am quick to recount, it is of no bother, for I now know the scripture “For I know the plans I have for you…” and I also believe Him. And I can say that having seen the best and worst over the last ten years.
Even at the lowest of memories, He was there. And even at the bottom-feeding part of my belief, He was anxiously waiting for my comprehension. Of the things I have recorded, this one meets with the most argument. How can a God who has everything be anxious for anything? I stand firm in my defense. So anxious was He to be with me, He would die to make it happen. No greater friend would I have than He, who would lay down His life… a friend request He sent me on Calvary.
Most certainly, no matter what, I know, it will be well.
Just like today.
May your floors be sticky and your next ten years be spent delighting in the God who saves. Love, Jami
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11