Saturday, September 15, 2012

Letter(s) to My Teenage Self 

Dear Thirteen Year Old SD,

You are the most disrespectful, unruly, and rebellious you will ever be.  But you are surrounded by love and grace. Your parents love you more than anything and many of your teachers seem to find something within you that's beautiful and unique despite your defiant behavior.  It's a hard year, but it will get better.

You want so badly to be unique and different and for everyone to know how tough you are.  You are unique and different, but you're also so very fragile.  Dropping the f-bomb in the hallway, wearing old t-shirts and black Converse, and using vulgar terms for male anatomy can only hide so much of a vulnerable little girl in a new school with few friends.

Being friends with boys is great, but some boundaries might have helped. You think it's tough to let them talk to you about anything and everything. When the pornographic images they describe haunt your thoughts and break your heart, you don't feel so tough, though.  You'll get past this, though.  There'll come a day (and darling, I hate to say it, but it will be years into your marriage) when you can let go and see this thing that you thought was so dirty as beautiful and holy and right. It will take a long take and a very patient man, but it will happen.  I promise.

You fall in love for the first time.  You meet someone in this new place who understands you.  All of you.  All the things that NOBODY gets, he does. Because he's like you.  Hallelujah, someone is like you!  You are convinced he is your soulmate, the love of your life, your everything.  He's none of those.  You want him for everything- a boyfriend, a forever love, a lifelong partner.  You want that so badly within your thirteen year old heart.  He'll never be any of that.  He'll be your best friend for the rest of your life, though.  He'll stand with you at your wedding and pray you through those marriage issues.  You'll stand with him at his and pray him through so much.  You'll come to realize all of this as the greatest "unanswered" prayer of your life.


Dear Fifteen Year Old SD,
You're a little (not much) softer around the edges these days. You've found friends and interests and things are just a little easier.  You analyze things so much, though, and you still feel so different from almost anyone you know.  You just don't process things like a "normal" person.  It's hard for you to admit to being so different.  It's easy for you to be different with things like hi top sneakers and loud outfits, it's much harder with the things you can't control.  You still can't figure out what is wrong with you.  One day you'll figure it out, or rather someone who loves you will.  He'll explain what it is.  He'll tell you it's okay and that it has a name.  You'll seek help in different ways and you'll understand yourself better.  You'll take a pill for awhile.  You'll go to counseling for awhile.  You'll immerse yourself in writing and music and motherhood.  You'll learn ways to deal it.  You'll process things in the way not everyone (okay, hardly anyone) understands, but you'll be okay, knowing it's the way you need to do it. You'll find yourself less afraid to be alone with your thoughts.  But when you are afraid you'll know where and to whom to go.

There's a new boy and he's so special.  He won't be there forever, though.  He will teach you a lot and you won't regret what you were to each other.  You'll learn what it is to love and to fight passionately and you'll carry that with you through the rest of your life.  He'll dessert you, in seemingly the most hurtful way.  You'll spend nights sleeping on the couch because you can't sleep in your own bed.  You'll be sad for a long time.  But you will move on.

Speaking of boys, when the boys in your class want your number so they can call your sister, you bruise and sometimes even break.  You want to be pretty like her more than anything and you want to be noticed.  You'll come to recognize, though, that you were the lucky one.  You never had to question their motives, protect your dignity, or defend your worth over your beauty.


Dear Seventeen Year Old SD,
You're a high schooler now.  You're so much more comfortable in your skin. You don't worry much about what other people think.  You're more confident in your appearance and you're more okay with being who you are. You've found a group of GIRL friends.

You still have a hard, hard time with your emotions.  You still struggle with intense sadness and debilitating anxiety.  As often as not, you are paralyzed by your fears. 

And you are with someone exactly like you.  While thirteen year old SD was saved from the anguish of a relationship with someone just like her, you were not.  Your current boyfriend is as unhealthy emotionally as you are, if not more so.  He's not a bad person at all, but you and he are not good for each other. Your heart hurts so much.  Your mind feels so jumbled you can't think clearly.  Your stomach is in knots all the time.  None of this is unusual except for the fact that you now have another person further analyzing your every thought, move, and emotion and compounding everything.  You- and he- become paranoid and overly introspective.  The whole thing is just hard.  Too hard.

But it gets harder.  He'll break up with you.  Twice.  I'm telling you, like so many people who loved you did, it's for the best.  Maybe a part of you even knows this.  But you are so scared.  You want to be his girlfriend...his wife...the mother to his children....more than anything else in the entire world.  Because he is your idol.  You will think some of the darkest thoughts of your life.  You will experience a fear you never have. You say you don't even want to be alive without him.  You don't know how you even can continue to live without him. 

But you will.  You will live and you will love.  You will live stronger and love harder.  You will become a person by yourself.  You will rely on your Savior.  You will trust in your Lord.  You will let Him deliver you.


Dear Nineteen Year Old SD,
You are hardly a teenager and I am so proud of you.  You are graduating high school this year. Much of what is in you resembles a woman.  You are making mature decisions and you are a strong person.

You are a hard worker, a kind person, and a loyal friend.  You are well liked by your classmates and you have found things you love.  You work your tail off at competitive cheerleading practices, you pour your heart into every role you get in theatre productions, and you are a strong student not because you're unusually bright but because you take your studies very seriously.  You really enjoy, even love, your life.

You are finally at the point to give your heart away again.  This will be the last time.  The person is the most unexpected.  He's just a friend.  Your best friend at that point, but just a friend.  Early on, it occurs to you that you don't think he's the most handsome boy you've ever dated and truly you don't have the infatuation with him you did other ones.  You are concerned you'll never love him the way you did the other two. But you know he's by far the most fun boyfriend you've ever had and his laid back style makes all of life so easy for you.  His personality perfectly compliments yours and your anxiety is balanced in a way it never has been by his easy going nature. Moreover, he is a phenomenal person.  He works hard, he's exceptionally kind, and he serves others so well.  He understands you and you easily share your deepest fears and biggest dreams with him.  And you know he will make a better father than any man you've ever met.  Before you even say "I love you" to each other, you have a strong confidence that you will marry him.

And you will. You were a smart girl and you knew the other things would fall into place.  And they did.  You came to see him as exceedingly handsome and fell more in love with him than any of the others.  But it probably wouldn't have mattered had you not.  You put the most important things first.  The lasting things.  He's thirty now and has a few gray hairs already and is a few pounds heavier than back then, but he is the best father I've ever seen and he does take care his family.  He's still the perfect balance and he works as hard as he ever has.  He's still so kind and he still serves others beautifully.  None of the important things have changed.

I will say that it wouldn't have hurt you to chill out about planning every detail of your life with him.  That baby y'all discussed and even argued about when you should have? That one you named Ann Peyton before you even got engaged? She'll be join y'all two months before you celebrate your first anniversary.  The perfect time.

You changed and grew so much between thirteen and nineteen.  Many of the struggles you faced as a teenager, you will continue to face as a young adult.  But you face them as a whole person.  A person dependent on the Lord.  And a person who found her forever love in the form of her best friend at nineteen years old.  It will only get better!

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