If only life worked that way, how different would it be? We don’t think the next generation knows what they’re talking about, things are different now. How could they? If only. If only we could go back in time and tell ourselves what we know, from the other side. Imagine yourself telling a younger you what life is all about. Would you listen? Maybe not. Maybe those struggles and those consequences made you stronger, surely they did. But if you could go back 10 years what would you tell yourself?
Here’s my letter.
Dear Teenage Self,
It may be difficult for you to understand, but life is not the here and now. I know you’re having fun showing off with your friends and getting cute, too cute, for him. I know you think that somehow life is different than it was 20 years ago before you were even a thought on your momma’s mind. I know that it seems like tomorrow or next week or next year is the biggest and best time of your life. You’re having fun and enjoying life and that’s important. But I need to tell you what’s more important.
You see those friends? Those friends may not like you anymore once you stop doing all those crazy things. And please stop doing all those crazy things, your life is too valuable for such behavior as that. You aren’t invisible, my love. That delicate skin of yours is not armor. But those friends. When you change priorities or move to college, or do anything that’s different than what they are doing, they’re gone. Poof. And all those memories, and truth-telling pictures, they’ll still be there to remind you of days you’d wish you could take back. Don’t be defined by what your peers are doing.
But your family, oh that family. They will be there today, tomorrow, and every day. Like it or not. Learn to like it if you have to because that momma, she knows what life is about. She was here not so long ago and she knows, she’s on the other side looking back. And those sweet ones with silver hair, they could tell you stories all day if you’d listen about what living life is about. They’ll share their heartaches with you and tell you how important it is to work hard to keep the family name. Those lines around their eyes, each and every wrinkle is a lesson learned. A story waiting to be told. Lean into your family and wear the good stuff, the love, the perseverance, the sweat and tears, wear those like a shiny badge of honor. Because it’s those things that are a part of you, you don’t get to take those back.
That family you have is what you lean on. You know why? Because not everybody has a family like that. A family that laughs. A family that will come and get you no questions asked when we’ve fallen off our wagon. They know what it’s like to be a sweet, delicate youngin. They’ll stick around, they don’t have a choice either. Choose your clan, do it every time.
Can I tell you about something that’s even more awesome than your unbelievably awesome family? About someone who loves you so much he’d die for you? No, I’m not talking about him, that boy who’s promising the moon and stars. That boy who says he loves you, he does love you. A kind of love that only a teenage boy can know. The kind of love that is so fierce he’d give up his friends for you, love that gives you special gifts and tells you that you’re beautiful.
A love that wants something from you, expects something from you after all those beautiful gifts and sweet compliments. This is the kind of love that if you choose not to give in, to keep yourself whole, this love vanishes. Gone. It vanishes when she, the new girl with the pretty eyes, gives in though. Then she gets the special gifts and compliments. Sweet one, you don’t want that kind of love. No, you are too special to Him for that. Let that love come and go like the blowing of leaves. There and gone. Just let it go.
But He. He will love you without condition. He loves you the way you are right now, today. He’ll teach you how to love yourself enough that you won’t need that boot-wearing boy or those fast-driving friends to tell you how beautiful and awesome you are. He’ll teach you how to make the kind of friends that will cry with you, that will have the courage to tell you when you’re wrong and help you do right. His kind of love is forever, it lasts eternally and it will fill your heart to the very tip top, until one day, years from now you’re ready to give it away. God’s love, one that is patient and kind, understanding and slow to anger, that’s the kind of love you’ll come to expect of the man you’ll share a last name with. A love that does not boast, is not proud. One that is tender, one that is a leader. One that will wait. One that longs to know the very deepest part of your soul and once he knows it, he’ll love you still. Every inch he’ll love, top to bottom, inside and out.
God loves you so much though that if you have done something you aren’t proud of my dear, made memories with those fast-driving friends or believed those beautiful gifts, he’ll forgive you. Those pictures they share will be all that’s left, you don’t have to keep the memories. You can throw those beautiful gifts in the deepest creek, and all those dark things, they’ll wash away with the rolling tide. They’re gone. You are still you, but now you are new. That person you see in those photos is gone and you’re new.
Can you make me a promise, little one? Today and everyday, be who you are and don’t worry about the rest. Don’t let the people around you mold you into something you aren’t. You are beautiful, you are strong, you are smart. God has a mighty, mighty plan for your sweet life and if we get caught up being something we’re not or something somebody else wants us to be, we’ll miss the boat. The boat that God prepared more than 20 years ago, before you were even a thought on your momma’s mind, just for you. His plan is greater than anything we could plan. Bigger and greater. Will you seek Him and his might plan?
Choose Him and be free.