Here’s to Hindsight: Letters to My Former Self by Tara Leigh Cobble

Alisa let me borrow Tara Leigh Cobble’s Here’s to Hindsight: Letters to My Former Self. The title, to me, is interesting . . . in one chapter, Tara Leigh and a friend talk about how, with hindsight, things come clear and you can see what you were learning and how you were growing. I feel that way in my own life – I can see how some of the things that (Mike and) I have been through have grown me closer to the person I was created to be.

At the same time, I am not sure that everything comes clear with hindsight. Terrible things happen and there seems to be no reason for them. In those cases, sometimes we can look back and see how God has used them in our lives just the same, but sometimes we have to simply take comfort in his presence. I am only in my late 20s, so I don’t consider myself an expert on any of this, but when I look back on some of the things that haven’t made sense, I do remember that those were times when God was so close I could almost touch him.

But that doesn’t have anything to do with the book, really.

I remember Tara Leigh from back when I used to read the Bebo-board (or was it the Beboard?). I remember when Home Sweet Road came out, and she’s been on my radar, and I know she’s friends with Alisa and Carla, but I don’t know any of her music. The only song I’ve heard is her cover of Rich Mullins’ “Hard to Get.” So I don’t feel like I know her music at all. I just thought I should say that before I start talking about the book.

I read the book straight through in a day, and, while I think it would have added an extra level if I actually did know a thing or two about her music, I enjoyed her honesty about her struggles. I’m not a musician, I don’t travel, but I, too, have desired community, to know and to be known, and not had that need met. I have questioned why God was letting certain things happen, where he was, and been given small graces in response.

I read memoirs and books about spiritual journeys because they help me understand myself better, help me put my own story in perspective. I wouldn’t say that this book completely changed my life, but it did put into words some of the struggles that are common for 20-something Christians: what it looks like to trust God, to live authentically, to find out who we are when we aren’t living with our parents anymore. I expected to feel somewhat intimidated by the book, in a, “Her life is cooler than mine,” kind of way (which is funny, because she talks about reading Girl Meets God and feeling that way), but instead, I felt that she was someone who I could talk to over a cup of coffee (not in a Notting Hill “I have believed for some time that we could be best friends” creepy stalker way, I swear). I asked Alisa if I could listen to her CDs sometime, to find out which ones I might like.

I wondered as I was reading it what I would say to my former self, to high school Kari and college Kari if I could. For inspiration, I asked Mike, and he said, “I wouldn’t want to say anything to myself, because if I made different decisions, I wouldn’t be here with you.” I rolled my eyes and ignored him. But, you know, I think he’s right. I started out by trying to write letters to my former self that said things like, “Don’t befriend this person. Don’t waste your time doing this.” But I can’t just erase those things. They are part of who I am, and I am very happy with my life these days. Instead, I think any letters I might write to myself would be some version of the following: “So far what I know is this: It’s going to hurt, but, with God’s help and the help of the wonderful people he’s placed in your life, you’re going to get through it.”

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