Dear twenty-year-old Norma,

Your smile is contagious, never forget that. You are better than you feel. The papers will pile up, but I promise you education is power, so pursue it relentlessly. Be happy to make new friends. It is always a good idea to laugh along and smile back at people. Do not run away from your problems. It is when you approach them head on that you will find your victory, every time. Enjoy where you are no matter what. You do not know when you will have your last conversation with someone you consider a best friend. It is more than okay to move on.

Dear younger Norma, do not run in front of that car. If they walk away from you, it is not always to hurt you. Growth is healthful. Like a sunflower blossoms in the summer and a tulip in the spring, people have their own seasons too. Every time you see someone receive what you have been asking for, rejoice with them. It is only preparing you for your next blessing.

Enjoy the company of those you feel might not be worth your time. They are worth your time. Remember to love with God’s love and help with His heart. Hug with intention. Use your words with piercingly loving precision. It has not failed yet.

Forget that five year plan you made at seventeen. Allow God to guide you first. Allow Him to show you what His plan is for you and follow that. Stay focused. Remember to love no matter the situation. Love is rewarding. Teaching fiercely does not mean anything if you do not correct in love. Tolerance is not love, remember this too.

Dear second semester of sophomore year Norma, yes, you loved him at eighteen, but nothing like you will love him at twenty-two. I will let you know about twenty-three, but I am sure it will be so much greater. Be patient with your dreams. Do not lose them. Dreams are hope and inspiration. They are the vehicle to your destination. Faith is your fuel. Love is the motion.

Do not underestimate yourself. You have more to offer than you feel like you ever had. Remember to always give God every problem. Give God permission to dig deep into the foundation of your being, daily. Allow Him to pour himself into you. Doing so brings your gunk to the surface and that is okay. This is why it is always important for His love to be overflowing. True love is without void and is always forgiving.

Norma, forgive others daily until you know you are healed. Know that you are not enough by yourself and that is okay. Do not expect yourself to be perfect for another person, we all face adversity. Be sensitive to those in need of a hug or a smile.

It is okay to be happy without a smile plastered on your face. A smile can also be an excellent self-reminder of how happy you really are.

With best regards,

Norma Payne




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