Call me crazy, but I write my future self letters. Correction – I used to write myself letters before I had a smart phone. Now I make myself videos. Just like I used to write letters about current goals and dreams and revelations, I now record a video to my future self when I think she may need a reminder or guidance or just a smile. Then I save it in my videos folder until whenever. Not kidding – sorry not sorry. Maybe you get this – anyone else with me already? – or maybe you’re wondering what on earth I am talking about.
In one particular video, I’m talking to myself in the mirror wearing boots, tights, a trench coat and a scarf – in the middle of August. It was what I had to wear to be comfortable on my way to work that day, and I was demonstrating to my future self why I had made the decision to leave rainy chilly London for sunny Dubai. At the time, it felt like I had spent my whole life leaving. I’ve left home and family and friends countless times, left a dozen jobs, half a dozen countries, two of my own businesses, and one marriage. In almost every case the leaving was exactly what I needed to do, and we are always blessed in our obedience.
But I wanted to be done leaving.
In the London vs Dubai scenario, I had labored over it and prayed and delayed and cried and in the end it was one of the most bittersweet and heart-wrenching choices I have had to make in my life (surpassed only by my divorce and a major career shift). I knew at the time it was the right move but I also knew there would be days I wished I could unwind it all.
In all of my videos and letters, I’m doing the same thing. I’m keeping myself accountable. I’m keeping myself focused on my mission and aware of progress. I’m keeping myself from wavering on a decision or commitment. I’m reminding myself why I left and what I am walking toward. It has felt like a life of wandering in the desert long before I ever arrived in Dubai. And Dubai isn’t even my promised land. I knew I would be leaving this desert, too, before this stage even brought me here.
But just like Moses in Numbers 33, I’m recording the stages in my journey. I’m recording the instructions (Numbers 33:2, 50-54) and my mind-sets (33:3) and the respite (33:9) and the hardship (33:14) and the loss (33:38-39). Because life is about the journey, and I don’t want to lose my way. Or the promise. But mostly I just don’t want to forget the stages that were prescribed and necessary and transformative enough to turn an eleven day trip into a forty year journey.
Sometimes I don’t even know how what I’m recording today will be useful tomorrow, but I do know the process of writing it down (or talking it out) is part of me stewarding my journey. It helps me to stay patiently present in the current stage until I have enough information or perspective to understand it. It helps me to then let it go, knowing it is on record and I can walk forward into the next stage. It helps me to remember that God has been faithful in this stage and He will be faithful in the next one.
When I watch my videos it brings tears to my eyes. Most of my letters do too. Sadness, because the journey has been hard. Happy tears, because the journey has been an amazing adventure. And it has shaped me, and I don’t want to forget it.
When you read through Numbers 33, you might be reminded that you’re going to have to do a lot of leaving if you want to make it to the Promised Land. Record your stages (including any guidance, emotions, gifts, or challenges) and keep moving forward. But don’t worry, Someone knows your stage and your decisions and your promise. He might just need to use your pen and paper to record His all-surpassing love for you. Or maybe even your smartphone.