Love Takes Patience


I know I’m more than just a little quirky and weird…and by far more of a romantic than I should be.

I want all the beauty there is in life, and I want to leave behind my thoughts for people to ponder and to learn from and appreciate (ego, much?).

I’ve been known on more than one occasion to hide a hand-written letter in a closet nook or taped to the bottom of a cabinet drawer…hoping that one day, many years after I had left that place, someone would find it and we would be connected through time.

Recently, I found one of those notes…but the funny thing was…I had written it to myself.

The message was on the back of a bookmark I had purchased 17 years ago. The bookmark (pictured above) had my name on it, spelled correctly. I was named after Percy Bysshe Shelley, hence the two e’s. However, the more common spelling is “Shelly.” So, on the rare occasion, I find something monogrammed with the proper spelling of my name, I snap it up.

But this bookmark featured more than just my name. It had the meaning of my name, “Peaceful Meadow,” and a scripture: “The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?” (Psalms 27:1).

And on the back was written:

To: Shelley

From: Shelley

Love takes patience.


My first thought when I saw the note was, “Man, I’m a cornball for writing a note to myself.” My second thought was to try to remember what I was doing in February of 1990.

Well, for starters, I was just three weeks shy of my 20th birthday and was dating and about to get engaged to a man named Ricky, who was four years my senior. I’m sure I was hurting at the time, as things with Ricky weren’t always pleasant. I had dated him since I was 16…and ended up dating him until I was 21. The last two of those years, we were engaged but after two years with no wedding date set, I had to give him an ultimatum…set a date or call it off. He called it off.

I didn’t date much after Ricky, until, about a year later, I began dating Louie. Things didn’t go well there either.

I broke up with Louie in 1995…and haven’t had a date since.

I know I’m broken. I’ve been broken a long time. And the hurt manifests itself in sarcasm and weight gain and complacency.

But I want to have hope. Hope that I will find a person to share my life with. Hope that I will care enough about myself to take care of myself. Hope that I won’t spend the next 12 years alone.

And that’s why I’m so glad I found that little bookmarker…that little time machine that allowed me to hear what 19-year-old Shelley had to say to 37-year-old Shelley. She had hope (and, dare I say, wisdom). If she had hope, so should I.

So often we fantasize about what we would say if we had the chance to meet our younger selves. We think about warning ourselves about heartache or finances or danger.

But that will never be possible.

What is possible is to learn from our younger selves.

So, if you could go back to a certain time in your life and listen to what your younger self would have to say to you that would affect you from this day forward….what age would you visit and how do you think younger you would counsel present-day you?

(As much as I appreciate all the kindness of my Monkbots…please, please, please don’t focus comments on me…I’m fine. I just thought this would be a great question to pose to y’all! 🙂 )


14 Responses to “Love Takes Patience”

  1. Quossum Says:

    I used to type little messages and put them inside library books I’d checked out for other people to find. 🙂

    You pose an interesting question, because we usually think of our older selves going back from our positions of superior wisdom and advising our younger selves about the way of things.

    I guess if I could go back in time and listen to a younger version of myself, I’d go back to when I lived alone in Crockett, lying out in the hammock in the hot sunshine with the cat curled up on my stomach, and my older self would just listen to my younger self talk, about how I felt in those days, how I was.

    I would hear my younger self say how proud she was to have a job and be independent at last…and my older now self would appreciate my sometimes frustrating job more.

    My younger self would talk about how she managed to fill her days even without TV, internet, or cell phones…and my now self would try to depend on technology less.

    My younger self would say how lonely she was…and my now self would be more grateful for James even when he sometimes annoys me.

    My younger self would say how she enjoyed writing so much, how it was such a vital part of herself, how it utterly defined her…and maybe my now self would try to find me again.


  2. Hatson Says:

    We had a tradition in our family of writing letters to ourselves at pivotal ages. When we turned 13 was the first. It was opened and read privately on our 16th birhday. Another letter was then written and placed in the same envelope to be opened on our 18th and then 21st birthday. Those letters still mwean alot to me. I shared my hopes and dreams for the future, each time mentioning some boy I had a crush on, what were the current styles(sometimes enclosing an example), and what I wanted from life. Those letters continue to help me now. When a daughter would say”You just don’t understand? I could share one of my letters. It is a great idea for everyone to mark time and all we have learned.Good job Younger Shelley and older Shelley.

  3. jenfera Says:

    I read this last night and didn’t comment right away because I really had to think about it. I’m struggling with this idea because I can’t help thinking that younger jen really needed advice from older jen way more than the other way around. So, if I have to choose an age, I guess I would visit with my very young self, maybe around 5 or 6. I’d especially like to visit in the summer, maybe during one our family vacations to Maine. I was just really happy and carefree then. Maybe younger jen would just get me to relax a bit, spin in circles till I get dizzy and fall down on the beach, and roll around in the waves and not mind that my bathing suit is filled with sand.

  4. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Jenfera-I’m kind of with you. Other than being able to play outside instead of watching tv, or enjoy a kids meal instead of a super-sized one….I dunno…

    There is no way I could learn anything “real” from my childhood me. I was a fearful child that walked through life carefully. I wouldn’t have known insight or authenticity if it hit me in the face…mainly b/c I inherently refused to deal with/feel emotions.

    I could learn something from 23-24 year old me. I had just come to know the truth about Christ and grace and I was thrilled. I was a sponge…and starving for more information about God and His love. I would love to re-visit that me and see that excitement and fervor. And remember why I was so in love with Jesus then.

  5. Shelley Says:

    bama…you’re so right…i feel i could learn so much from 10-year-old Shelley, which is when I came to know the Lord. I was so enthusiastic and proud and wanting to be Christlike. So often now, I’m jaded and cynical and self-centered.

  6. KimLoree Says:

    I don’t know exactly what younger KimLoree would say to older KimLoree…but I know there would be a lot of scolding.

    Younger me was much more vital, spiritual, had higher self esteem, bigger dreams, more empathy, and a much lower tolerance for anything negative or mundane. Younger me knew how to have more fun, read more, listened to more music, enjoyed the company of friends and family more often, had more empathy, was more idealistic, thought she would make a difference somehow.

    Oh…and was a lot skinnier and cuter.

  7. justwatchin Says:

    Oh Shelley…I have too hard a time with my memory to even attempt an assignment like this. How about if I give you the reverse? No stinky fish, please? Older me to younger me….

    Don’t get lazy. Remember that to get anywhere or achieve anything, hard work is required. Not everyone will ever meet all your expectations and you need to learn how focus on the good and not the bad. Realize when attempts at changing things are futile, and withdraw in a graceful way, without burning any bridges. Try not to let emotion get in the way of reason. Remember to treat people like people and not objects.

    I made a regrettable decision last weekend, so have been doing a lot of self reflection (hey, Paris got out?)…

    Anyway, I rediscovered the Bible& prayer again (I’ve been years lazy in that dept. ) I think the key is here, and so I’ll let younger self (me today) give older self (me tomorrow) some advice….”Keep reading the Bible…without it you just lose the foundation for hope and faith~ and keep praying. It just doesn’t work without those.”

    Take care….I love your posts…they are open, honest and eloquent.

    Have a good one all!

  8. Quossum Says:

    Shelley, bama, have you guys heard the song “Missing Person” by Michael W. Smith? It explores exactly those issues you’re referring to, and so eloquently. It’s a great song and gives me such comfort that even “strong” Christians have these feelings sometimes.


  9. Karen Says:

    Shelley: I hope you don’t mind if I deviate from your question somewhat. I actually used to send messages to my older self when I was young (kind of like Jim sending Dwight messages from future Dwight, only the other way around). It was usually in the form of stamping a transcendent moment firmly into memory so that it would never be forgotten; but here’s my favorite “message.”

    The city where I grew up was situated in a valley, and by climbing a very high, tiered hill at the edge of my stomping grounds, you could see most of the city from that high vantage point. I climbed all the way to the top by myself on a beautiful summer day, lay on the grass, and tried to imagine what I would be doing when I was older. I was 10.5 years old at the time. First I picked 20 years old, but then I thought, “No, I know I’ll be in college then.” So then I picked 30. I guess I was too young to imagine my 30 year old life, so I just said to myself, “Whatever you are doing, be as happy as I am today.” It was a beautiful moment, and I revisit it frequently – smell the grass, see the clouds, feel my young and healthy body. Most of all, I love the little girl who sent me those good wishes.

    There, now I did it – tears in my eyes at work.

  10. leejolem Says:

    Bama, your post gave me chills. When I was in high school I was so filled with peace and love and excitement about my faith. When I see pics of myself my smile is beaming, and I know the source of that joy was the Lord. I, like Shelley, now often feel jaded, self-centered and cynical. I would go back and just have a conversation with myself and try to recapture that focus “and remember why I was so in love with Jesus then”. Thanks Bama for giving me the right words.

    p.s. I would also say to my 17 yr old self–“You look great–why do you think you’re fat at 145lbs? You’re beautiful just the way you are.”

  11. patrickkaddiddlehopper Says:

    I usually put “Shave” or “Don’t forget library fine” on a sticky not and put it on the snooze button of my alarm clock…does that count?

  12. Shelley Says:

    patrickka-D, the fact that you have to remind yourself to shave makes me such a proud big sis. LOL


  13. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Lee, Shelley, Q- Thanks for reminding me I’m not the only one that struggles with that feeling! You guys are great!

    I probably won’t be around again until the end of next week. I hope you guys have a great weekend and have lots of fun. I’m sure Shelley will keep up with her insightful posts and y’all will have many commenting sessions to keep you busy!

    Love u all lots!


  14. Dr. Bob Says:

    Wow, interesting question (as usual, Shelley!). I am sorry, but I am with Bama … I was sort of a mess at 19. I married an angry, damaged man because I did not know how to get out of it, despite the fact that I knew it was a mistake. I have learned about speaking my mind the very hard way — six years of misery later, I finally left.

    When I was 19, I had a sense of possibility, but no sense of direction and no confidence. I did not know who or what I was. I think I have been able to retain the sense of the miraculous — the awareness that extraordinary things happen all of the time, in the small moments of life.

    I was thinking about that time of life recently — I used to be at church more often than not (at least three times a week). Now, if I get there once a week that is pretty good. Maybe my younger self would give me some sage advice about being connected to others. I tend to be a bit of a loner, fellowship-wise. Maybe I am being prompted to look at this issue …

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