Dear me at 16,
I just want to tell you right now, it’s all gonna change. You’ve just turned 16, but in a few months everything will look different.
God is going to mess you up. Big time. Let Him.
You are going to feel the wind knocked out of you, the momentum of the years have led to this moment where you will meet God.
I know you won’t believe me but dad was right. You do have a call on your life, and once it takes hold, you will falter and fall and scrape by on knees sometimes but you will never be able to shake it. It will transform you. But honestly, we’ve always been a little slow to learn our lessons so this transformation will sometimes be slow and painful.
I’d tell you all the pitfalls but we both know how stubborn you are and that until you make those mistakes yourself, you’ll never really absorb the truth.
Enjoy this time with your family. Your brother will remain your close friend for life and believe it or not, you will live in the same town and raise your families together. That’s right. You’re both going to have families, complete with 3 kids and a spouse. His wife will be one of your closest friends. Crazy, I know.
You think you don’t ever want to get married, you think you don’t need anyone and that marriage is antiquated and unrealistic but again that God thing is going to change the way you see things. Even after that, you’ll think you are just going to go be a missionary somewhere and be celibate but I’ve got news for you. you’ll be married at 19 and missions will look a lot different than you imagined. God has a way of redirecting you.
You’re going to try to lead for years and you’re going to exhaust yourself and then one day, you’ll begin to grasp grace and it will work new things into your soul. Rest and peace and submission. But you’ll still be feisty, that’s just how you’re built, but now He’ll be able to use it for His glory, not yours.
You will meet your husband this year. This boy will be kind to you and make you laugh and he’ll give you the best kiss you’ve ever had, and also the last. He won’t be your “type,” but give him a chance. That other boy you think you love is one regret God saves you from having. Your mom is praying hard for your future spouse and one day you’ll thank her because you could have made some really bad life choices and be married to a drug addict who aged really poorly.
Meeting your husband at 16 as a brand new Christian will bring a lot of drama. You and Josh will break up too many times to count and you will even think you are in love with someone else and travel across the country. You’ll feel really stupid when you get your heart broken. You will think infatuation is the same thing as love but it’s not. You’ll need to learn that but when you do, Josh will be faithful to you all your years and quell the voice in you that tells you not to get too close to anyone. You’ll be yourself and he’ll love you for it. You can snort when you laugh, wake up with eye boogies and bad breath, and admit your deepest fears and he will take it all, because he loves you so much.
You’ll doubt it and fight it and forget it but he is a gift for you. God knew what you needed even when you didn’t. You think you are low maintenance but let me just tell you that you are not. A part of you will make things worse to make them better. Give him the grace he gives you. It will change your marriage.
I’ll just say it, “you think too much.” Learn to live with your thoughts for a while. Your impulsive nature wants action but you need time to let your thoughts breathe a bit. You’ll get it wrong sometimes and you’ll need to learn to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” The sooner the better.
You are idealistic and one day Myers Briggs will classify you as an INFJ, and you’ll read all about it and finally realize that you have always been this way. Right now, you pride yourself on being different and you’re disillusioned with just about everything. Some of that cynicism is just the broken places that God will heal and some of it is your intuitive nature that sees and feels more than most others.
You’re a third culture kid and you’ll always feel a tad displaced. You’ll feel most comfortable with people who have a different world view and seem a little off to mainstream society. That’s ok. Just be careful not to judge those people who you don’t click with. That’s a mistake, you’ll want to watch out for that.
You’re going to struggle with depression. You’re going to feel too much and sometimes nothing at all. Ask for help, admit it. You’re not weak or sinful or failing. This is a place God has allowed you to be in, lean hard into Him and He’ll carry you through the dark times. Again, writing will help you. Be honest, you’re not as alone as you feel. You’ll be alright.
You are going to be conflicted and you’ll wrestle with that and you will always struggle with balance, but this extreme part of your personality makes you passionate and resolute even if your dishes pile up or your craft closet takes over your room. Yes, you will have a craft closet. You’ll learn how to sew and garden and decorate cakes.
You’ll be less afraid of failing in your thirties and you’ll try all kinds of things. Just a quick note, you won’t ever finish any of the scrapbooks so let me just save you from that. Those scalloped scissors will just irritate you and digital cameras will be invented and you’ll always forget to print your pictures out.
You’ll grow into yourself and realize that you’re actually pretty good at a lot of things and that will make up for the things that you simply cannot do well. You’ll start to capitalize on your strengths instead of going in circles trying to fix your weaknesses. Admit it right now, you are not as tidy or organized as you secretly hope to be. It’s not your strong point so just get over it. No amount of shelving, baskets, Rubbermaids, or labels can save you, even though I know you love them. But the carpet cleaner is a great investment F.Y.I, your kids will inherit your messiness and your youngest will have a tendency to take his diaper off and poop on the floor. Sorry.
You’ll never know love like this, it will wreck you. You will take being a mother very seriously and honestly, you’ll screw up but in it you’ll find grace both for your parents and for yourself. It will help to heal your relationship with your dad and that’s good because as I am writing this, he has gone home to be with the Lord. You’ll miss him so much, so be sure to hug him while you have the chance, even when he makes you angry.
You influence people, so be careful with negative words or judgements. One day you’ll put your words out there for others to read and it will both heal and undo you. Just go with it. You were made for this, but for now, save all those journals and poems. Fill those pages because some day you will crave the time and silence to write and you’ll have to carve it out of naptimes and late nights. You’ll scrape together moments for your words to help you breathe and see and make sense of your world.
You’ll find out you’re an introvert, and it will all make sense. I know everyone thought you were just like dad but the introverted side of you needs protection. Don’t feel bad when you need solitude.That’s when God will speak to you most.
You’re gonna do just fine.
Ok, some quick tips to save you heartache and embarrassment.
- Quit over plucking your eyebrows, seriously, you always look surprised
- Also, you are not fat. You’ll look back someday and wish you still looked like you do at 16, so enjoy it, but maybe don’t wear shorts that short. That’s the mom in me talking now. Also, wear sunscreen. It will keep you from looking like a wrinkled bag when you are 30.
- Always make sure your skirt isn’t tucked into your underwear after you go to the bathroom. Trust me.
- You might try to smile in some pictures. Right now you are annoyed every time your mom pulls out a camera but some day you’ll be thankful to have them, even if you hardly ever smile in them.
- And for goodness sakes, quit smoking. It’s just gross, we both know it, and it’s costing you a fortune. One day you’ll gag at the smell of a cigarette and wonder how you ever smoked, but really just snub it out now. You’ll thank me later.
Me at 33
Emily Freeman, one of my favorite bloggers to read has written a book for teenage girls and I really wish I’d read it when I was 16. Head over to her site to see what other’s would’ve said to their 16 year old self or write a letter yourself. What are some of the things you would tell yourself?