Small Town, Fast Car

An open letter to everyone who ever felt bitter, burnt out, or like a failure.

So you’re having a bad day. Maybe it seems like the world around you is all going smoothly–things are working out for OTHER PEOPLE, while you have your challenges.

Maybe you’re the person who had to give up going to school or doing other things because there was a child to take care of at home, and no one but you could give that love. Maybe your family was the type where everyone was an adult, but they acted like children, and you felt an obligation to protect them. You love them, after all. But, that meant that while you were young and full of energy, that’s where you were, instead of celebrating your youth like everyone else your age seemingly got to do.
And where are those people now? In their own homes, with their own families, with plenty around the Christmas tree, and you’re still working the night shift. I see you. I see that.

Maybe you’re the person who never got to dream, and life teased you by sort of looking like you mayyyybe were going to get somewhere, but then at the last moment, you were thrust into being the only breadwinner, or another such leadership role.
It is a wonderful thing to get to give. But people are imperfect, my friend. They won’t always see it, and they won’t always thank you. But I see you. I see that.

Maybe you’re the person who didn’t get to have a childhood. Codependent relationships growing up drove you straight to drugs/abusive relationships, and while other people seem to have their lives on respectable, productive tracks, it has literally taken all you can, and all this time, just to get yourself free again. People aren’t perfect, and they won’t always know when to tell you how much it matters that you made it, that you’re still breathing. But I see you. I see that.

Maybe you’re stuck at a job you hate because you have been so busy just trying to survive, you didn’t have the time or resources to invest in anything else. Now, you and everyone else you know are all older. Did you fail? Are you somehow “behind?” People don’t always see when others have had some tough, tough choices to make in life, and you made them even when you were surrounded by just so many easier things. I see you. I see that.

And maybe you did fail. Maybe you picked the wrong partner. Had an affair. Didn’t care for friendships well. Maybe you went into the wrong business. Maybe you can’t seem to get things started again. Maybe you made a mistake because you were so frustrated by the confines of your seemingly limited life, and you wound up getting yourself in prison. Maybe you have invested all your time and resources in something, and it didn’t work. Now it seems that you’re left with nothing.

Listen to this song. Go ahead, listen to it a few times. Try and empathize with the speaker, and feel what she is feeling.
See, these kinds of experiences can make us feel so alone. But the truth is that we really aren’t.
So listen, and hopefully make way for some catharsis:

  • Tracy Chapman: “Fast Car”
    A song about memories of when dreams were real, glimmers of hope in a fight for survival, the reality that hits when dreams fail, and redemption and resolution to move forward. All in one song. If Tracy Chapman isn’t one of the best singer/songwriters ever, I’ll eat my hat.



There. Did you have yourself a good cry/drive/nap, or whatever it is you need to do to vent?

If you’re feeling better, you can continue reading. I have a confession to make:

I’m one of those people who doesn’t always notice. But I am telling you that even though I am just so utterly imperfect, right this moment I am thinking about you. And I see you. And regardless of how you got here, you are here, and I respect that. You made it, and yeah, it came at a price. That is something that deserves to be seen and validated. I hope I can at least give you a little bit of that.

I’m also one of those people whose lives have, at times, just not worked out. Some of it was my fault. Some of it was not.

Some of it led to the most wonderful circumstances–far better than I ever deserve, and far more than I ever thought my life would hold. God has been good to me, and my heart is so full of love, every single day.

I know, I know….THAT’S WHAT PEOPLE ALWAYS SAY. They do always say that, and that’s the LAST thing people want to hear about when they are miserable!!

But what they DON’T say is that your path right now can take you anywhere. Anywhere! You survived some storms that were beyond your control, and you survived times when you could have controlled it but failed. It’s all ok. And it’s ok to be tired.
But, after you get some rest, consider this: Nothing and no one can take away the fight in you. Nothing and no one can take away your ability to take a breath when you wake up first thing tomorrow. Sometimes, that’s literally all we are able to do. But sometimes, that’s literally all we need to get started.
Tomorrow, codependent relationships don’t need to have any power over you.
Tomorrow, the mistakes you made in the past, or the times you really screwed things up don’t need to have any power over you.
Tomorrow, you can keep putting one foot in front of the other and truly KNOW that your circumstances right now do not define your potential.

There are worlds upon worlds inside your soul. You are here today, scars and all, and that matters. There is no such thing as a wasted, unimportant life. You matter, and your experience matters.


You’re not done yet. It’s not over for you. I’ll prove it:
Today, I want you to make a commitment to read a good book from cover to cover. Listen to an audiobook if reading is bothersome, or if your eyes aren’t so great. Listen to a podcast, if you don’t have time for a book.
And not just any book. Make it a quality book. Make it a book about how to do something, or about a job you think you could never have. Make it a book about managing time, or managing money. Make it a book about making something with your hands, or even make it a blank journal, and start filling up the pages yourself! Don’t get all type-A and decide to read the whole Bible or something–just start with a verse! ONE verse.
I promise you, a good book has the power to change your life. It might seem like the smallest, most insignificant change. It might only introduce ONE single, solitary new thought to your cycle of thinking. But one is enough. It is! Soon, it will grow into two, then more, then more, and before you  know it, you can see things in a totally different way. Yes, even if everything in your life seems like it stays the same, it really won’t be. Not really.

Forget what others might say. Seriously, let it go. Haven’t we already figured this out? People are imperfect, and they simply cannot see your whole story, myself included. So why waste time letting them have power over how you feel about yourself? Let it go. Tell them to take their fast car and get as far away from your life as possible.

It’s a new day for you. It’s the quiet resolution, the silent dawn. There’s no fanfare to a new breath. No applause. You don’t need it. You’re here. It’s real. You and your experience are real. Your hardships, your triumphs, your failures, everything–it has all shaped you into an authentic person with a real, valuable, and multi-faceted life to live, and this starts right now.

And it’s going to be ok.

Lots of love,


(C) 2017

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