In the News
Ireland—A movement is underway to boost young people’s mental health by having them write positive letters to their future selves. ReachOut, a nonprofit group based in Ireland, began the “Note to Self” campaign on college campuses, and it’s since gone viral.
Young people are asked to write positive, inspiring messages to their future selves; then ReachOut mails them back at a later date. “Note to Self” reveals that “sometimes we have the answers for ourselves,” says ReachOut’s Naoise Kavanagh.
One student wrote, “Dear future me, I hope you’re smiling more. I hope you’re consistently happier.” Another wrote, “Every now and then, you’re going to need to put yourself first and do your own thing, and that’s okay.”
You can also go online and have a “Note to Self” emailed back to you at an unknown date.
A new Christian song also has listeners pondering messages to their younger selves. In “Dear Younger Me,” MercyMe sings, “If I knew then what I know now.” Lead singer Bart Millard says the song was one of the hardest he’s written, but it helped him overcome past hurts.
Millard grew up in an abusive home, and though his dad later became a Christian, lots of damage had already been done. Now a dad himself, Millard wondered, “If I could sit with the 8-year-old version of myself, what would I say to him?”
In “Dear Younger Me,” Millard sings, “Do I go deep and try to change the choices that you’ll make, ’cuz they’re choices that made me. Even though I love this crazy life, sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride.”
Since the song’s release, listeners have shared that they’ve finally been able to break free of guilt and shame they’d carried around a long time.
Sources: abcnews.go.com, http://ie.reachout.com/about/note-to-self/, christianitytoday.com
* * *
Discussion Starters for Student Small Groups
What are some benefits of looking toward the future or examining the past? What are some pitfalls or traps? Is it best to take just one day at a time, or should we be thoughtful about what’s behind and ahead of us?
How much thought have you put into who your “future self” might be? What changes do you expect to undergo during the next few years? What goals would you like to achieve—personally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually?
What message would you write in a note to your future self, and why? What type of encouragements or warnings might you need to hear down the road? What do you want your future self to remember and cling to?
If you could offer advice to your younger self, where would you start? Would you offer assurances? self-esteem boosters? decision-making advice? other?
If you could go back and change the past, would you? Why or why not? How have your particular experiences and environments affected who you’ve become? What valuable—or tough—lessons have you learned that you wouldn’t trade?
Would you prefer to have “smooth sailing” in life or lots of challenges that offer opportunities to grow? How can people overcome hardships without being bitter or getting stuck in the past?
Do you agree that people often provide or find life’s answers for themselves? Why are those answers often tough and time-consuming to discover?
When do you feel new or renewed? What guilt or shame do you need to let go of or give to Jesus?
How can having a relationship with Jesus help you deal with the past? How can your faith strengthen you for what lies ahead in the future? What type of faith-related advice would you give your future self, and why?
Scripture links: Psalm 32:8-9; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 43:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19; Philippians 3:12-16; and James 4:13-17.