A Letter From My Future Self

Dear Me,

Your life is NOW.

I know you try to be in it, to stay present, to be here as it is happening.

But I admonish you to try even harder. Not with sheer willpower, but with surrender.

Surrender as hard as you can. Surrender to life as it is. And trust. Trust in the good despite your experience.

As Jordan Peterson says,

Resentment and simmering anger, no matter how justified, are rough tools. You may use them to build a future but they will carve out an ugly hut for you to lie down in.

You, my dear, will not build that ugly hut. Instead, you drop your rough tools, open your chest and shoulders, throw your arms back. Lift your chin and declare yourself alive, hopeful, and the kind of person who lives in joy.

How? All I can tell you is that you get there. Here. And it’s worth it.       silhouette of a woman with lifted chin, arms and chest wide, head thrown back: a letter from my future self

Believe,

Me

 

43 thoughts on “A Letter From My Future Self”

  1. Surrender to who or what? Believe in what? Live in who’s joy? “ Declare yourself alive“??? What happened to God?

    Reply
    • Yes, good questions.

      As I have attempted with the art of songwriting, I sometimes leave the “answers” up to the interpretation of the listener/reader.

      You may also note that the subject of this “letter” lends itself to a lack of detail.

      I have been the kind of Christian that demands concrete answers and solid declarations of truth from artists. I understand the impulse.

      But, Biblical theological principles don’t always speak to my present experience (I am assuming those were the details you found missing).
      Acute suffering has a way of scrambling the brain patterns that used to make sense of the world.

      All to say, your questions here are the questions I am asking myself.
      Thanks for reading and commenting ( :

      Reply
      • Biblical principles DON’T always answer our questions. Sometimes that’s because religious people have boxed them up for us as if a relationship with the living God can be packaged into a list of handy responses.
        Our reliance is on God, our surrender is to Him–not to anything or anyone else. That’s where the freedom is.
        C.S. Lewis’s response to his disappointments because if his expectations of God (A Grief Observed) were similar to Job’s. When we go through our biggest trials, that is when our trust in God is tested. Is He still good? Can He be trusted? Those are questions we have to know. People all over the world are suffering every day, but it’s when it hits home that we have to decide if we really believe and trust in God or not.

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  2. Good stuff Christine. I find it a struggle as I get older. I want to spend each day with children and grandchildren but work and just living get in the way. Surrender has always been difficult with my controlling personality but it has become easier as the years go by. I appreciate you and your music! God bless!

    Reply
    • I relate to “controlling” personality. I want to have more control over my life than is possible. Admitting that the answers and the certainties feel up for grabs lately is a scary place to traverse. Thanks for the blessing.

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  3. I have wondered this also when reading your posts Christine.
    I heard your interview on the Pivot. You didn’t speak of Jesus Christ’s place in your life as I had expected. Instead I quote “I decided since God didn’t fulfill His side of my expectations, I’m going to look outside the evangelical narrative at other wisdom stories and traditions, and what does Buddhism have to say.” You have also quoted Richard Rohr who is a progressive christian. Where do you actually stand Christine? Have you deconstructed your faith? No matter where you are I love you sister but I can no longer take what you find as truth if it isn’t coming from Gods truth found in scripture.

    Reply
    • Lynn, when my granddaughter’s and daughter’s pain were at one of their worst stages, I told a friend, “I’m mad at God.” She said, “Oh no, don’t be mad at God.” And I said, “Why not? He can handle the truth and He knows I’m mad anyway!”

      So I stand where so many have stood when overwhelmed by the inaction of God. It’s nothing new and not meant to weaken others’ faith. God’s not going anywhere. My false expectations and wrong interpretations are worth the exploration. And I thank you for weighing in ( :

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      • I struggle with this too Chris, as you know. I call it being “underwhelmed” by God. Being disappointed and saddened and, yes, angered by the fact that the creator of EVERYTHING couldn’t come up with a better plan than this. One that didn’t require pain, suffering, and such distance between us and Him on this earth. As you said, He already knows I feel this way so the best thing to do is admit it to Him and myself. My challenge is, in my equivalent search for “other wisdom stores and traditions”, what crosses the line and becomes a replacement for Him? Everything has the potential to – hobbies, material things, politics, etc. But for me, I have to believe that the Bible remains true as the inerrant word of God. In the midst of the struggles in this life I don’t even consider my questions, fears, doubts, anger, or even being underwhelmed by God as me having a “crisis of faith”. Everything is just as true as it’s ever been. It’s me who’s changing as I get older and collect experiences. When He is not enough, I can accept the fact that it’s due to my lack of surrender (maybe?) and that it is serving His purpose in me that I cannot fully grasp today. I know and believe that “Jesus is enough” regarding salvation and in light of eternity. But practically, what do I do with the gap that leaves me searching for more today? I love you sister ❤️.

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        • David, I appreciate your honesty. Indeed, “Everything is just as true as it’s ever been.” Our thoughts and feelings and experiences are nothing new but new to us. Thanks for adding your voice, my dear brother.

          Reply
    • The promises that God makes about His Word are true even when evidence seems to suggest otherwise. It is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) even when we cannot see it working in these ways. And the gospel remains the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16) regardless of how much or little the immediate, visible effects are. One of the outlandish and encouraging promises that God gives us about His Word is found in Isaiah 55:10-11, which says,

      For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

      Reply
  4. Dear Christine;
    I’ve always enjoyed the thoughtful and intelligent lyrics of your songs. As I’ve grown older and just being transparent, I do need the solidness of the Rock of the Lord to surrender to, to believe in and to be joyful on.
    Growth has brought pain and I’m sure you’re familiar with it too. I’ve recognized clearly that Christ’s foundation has given me the strength to overcome storms. I’m in the middle of some too but holding on.
    Continue to be light for many as you’ve always been. 😊

    Blessings always.

    Reply
    • Nelson, yes, the growing older has shifted and sifted my perspective in many ways. The Rock and the foundation of Christ are solid principles upon which I have built my life. May that storm of yours subside soon!

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  5. Christine, thank you for your vulnerability in being willing to publicly ask & address raw, emotional questions regarding the suffering that finds us all in this broken world! Not unlike the laments in the Psalms, you are creating a safe place for believers to hear, and maybe even voice questions often not permitted elsewhere.

    Reply
  6. Thank you for your letter. I have been suffering for a while with so many things. The 2 at the for front are my husband still healing from a Traumatic Brain Injury in February and my realization that I am bisexual (which came to a head about a year ago). Although I can’t go into detail I continue on with the struggles. Trying every day to bring it to God. Your music and blog are a few things that are helping in the battle. Thank you for sharing some of your life. God bless,

    Kris Ehrmantraut

    Reply
    • Kristina, we wouldn’t choose our struggles yet they are ours. Thanks for your honesty. May you find the healing and relief–or at least the help to live within the turmoil. So glad our music and my words are helpful to you ( :

      Reply
  7. Hi Christine, thank you for sharing your heart. I have been pondering the words of an old Twila Paris song recently. It is titled “Do I Trust You?” and talks about the questions of life that seemingly have no answer. The song concludes, “I will trust You, Lord, when I don’t know why / I will trust You, Lord, ’till the day I die / I will trust You, Lord, when I’m blind with pain / You were God before and You’ll never change / I will trust You, I will trust You, I will trust You, Lord.” There are times we will never understand the “what” that is happening and can only hold onto the “who” whose plan continues to unfold in directions we can’t anticipate, even when we are “blind with pain.” I continue to pray for you and Carina and Callaway every time I remember. I will say that there is great beauty in some of Carina’s posts, even in the midst of her great pain for her daughter. God bless -Nigel

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  8. I consider myself an analytical person who likes data, facts, knowledge and of course, wisdom. This is burdensome. I suppose it’s really all about making yourself comfortable with the unknown and resting in the faith like a hammock on a warm spring day.

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      • Christine,
        Thanks for your reply! I have a question that I’ve wondered about for years: Was “Dear Marianne” a real person in your life? I can imagine sitting in a coffee shop and having this conversation with someone.

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  9. Thank you Christine for the reminder to enjoy the present! I wish I had done that more when my kids were younger 🙂

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  10. Oh…and I forgot to add that your comments remind me of your song “Summer”. The lyrics are soooo beautifully written. Reminded me to enjoy my children when they wanted to play…to not worry about little things. 🙂

    We had sandwiches and apple juice
    On that sweet afternoon in the summer
    And you only wanted me to play
    You had no time to waste in the summer

    Reply
    • Jemie, yes, indeed I wrote those words to remind myself to stay present with my kids as they were growing. It was difficult for me to play when there was so much work to be done. It went by so fast!

      Reply
  11. I have loved your music from the very start – the message, your heart. You and I are the same age, with different life experiences. The past 3 years have broken me to almost nothingness. In the depths of the eye of my storm, I stood on a bridge, about to jump. I had lost hope. I knew God, but it felt like He was gone, and wasn’t listening to me. I had no will, no desire to live. On that bridge, He came to me, in my deepest despair. What I am learning is that in this journey of our life – God’s initial plan for His creation was to live without pain, in His presence. But that plan was foiled by the great deceiver. Since then, God said that we would have heartache, trouble, pain, suffering, despair, loneliness, death. The promise that He gave when He said “I will never leave you” is so true. The pain on this earth is NOT His fault!!!! He is NOT to blame! But He unfairly gets blamed when things don’t go the way we think they should, or when bad stuff happens to good and innocent people. Remember Joseph? God turned bad to good. God somehow makes the bad useful for His purpose. Most times we don’t have the eyes to see that, while in the midst of deep pain. We just want the pain to be lifted, at any cost. I’m not gonna give you an insensitive, pat statement that your precious granddaughter’s suffering will be used by God. His ways are not our own. Keep seeking His face. You may not get answers while here on earth, but His promises are rock solid.

    Reply
  12. Life was, is, and always shall be a beautiful mess, a beautiful mystery. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forever, Amen. I- a lover of the holy trinity, experienced a low in my life that left me questioning EVERYTHING. I wanted to die. Cried every single day for over a year. I’m not exaggerating. But my every second conversation with God kept me putting one foot in front of the other, and all I can say is time is my friend. I love God more than ever. Seasons will come and go- you learn it’s all part of the plan, and process, and we are really all in a desert when it all comes down- it’s keeping a tiny pinpoint of hope and faith for me, that keeps me trudging faithfully through the sand and keeps me in line and knowing at the end of it all I will understand more completely. All religious paths are searching for the truth and envelop very similar thoughts- and all leave me knowing it’s a big beautiful mess that I am grateful and thankful for being able to breathe in every single day- good and bad. You are a beautiful soul and I pray you find your peace. He loves you no matter what -in the midst of your beautiful mess, your desert. There are flowers in the desert too.❤️ Your songs are beautiful- as per usual.

    Reply
    • Stephanie, I really appreciate you sharing your story and reminding me of the beautiful mess that this world is. That image goes a long way. Thank you for the encouragement and blessing ( :

      Reply
  13. Hi Christine,

    Please write a blog post about your album, “Becoming.” It remains my very favorite album of all time. I find the lyrics to the song “Becoming” to be some of the most profound and symbolic imagery for my life. Not to mention, “Bigger Story,” “Gotta Go Through,” and “Goodbye,” {which I want played at my funeral}. I’d love for you to dive deep in and revisit the experiences from the time of that album, if you find the time.

    I know you meant these lyrics for Scott. But, for me, they are about my relationship with God:
    And I had been running, still You pursued
    I watched You move each heavy stone
    The thorns around me torn Your skin, but You kept coming through
    ‘Cause You won’t leave well enough alone

    God won’t leave us alone because He loves us. He is pursuing us to become His. There are so many layers to these lyrics for me. God’s love for me, His atonement, the walls I put up for myself in the tower, and on and on. I’d love to know your thought process while writing this album. Thanks!

    Reply

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