Dear 14-year-old Me,
Come close, sweet girl. Over here. That's right. Stand in front of the mirror and be still for a minute. Allow me to whisper some truths. (Try not to roll your eyes.) First, you are beautiful. I know, I know. You think you are flat-chested, sporting a gap between your teeth, cursed with hair that won't cooperate, and too poor to afford the cool clothes. You have knobby knees, rough skin, and a turned-up nose that someone in middle school said made you look like a pug dog.
Don't believe them. Don't find the voice that says, "Not good enough." Just don't.
Not one word.
You are masterfully, uniquely, wonderfully made, with no mistakes. Please learn to own that truth, sooner, rather than later.
You are smart.
You may not like math or science, but dislike and insecurity do not equal stupidity. It just doesn't. Bend your ear, and don't be afraid to embrace the unknown—to ask for help.
You have words, lots of words. But you are too shy to say them aloud. Be faithful to your journal. Write them down. One day you will look back and learn so much from what you left behind.
You love to get lost in imaginary worlds with characters who are beautiful and heroic. You block all out and focus on the pages. There is nothing wrong with immersing yourself in fiction; one day, it will serve you well. But--
Don't ignore reality. Life is happening right now, and you are missing it.
Your world is small. Limited. You can't see past the next day, much less the following year. You feel trapped. The time that seems to tick by at a snail's pace will fly, and one day, you will wish you had held on a little tighter to the pages of this part of your story.
And that weirdness you are feeling right now? Those are hormones. They will forever be around and will produce whacked out emotions that will threaten to run your ship into a mountain of rocks. Hold tight. You'll learn to take back the controls.
That relationship isn't worth it. You are too young and entirely don't fully realize what is at stake. Guard your heart at all costs.
Don't groan at the idea of a game night or movie night with your brothers or parents. There will be a time when those minutes of boredom when you'd instead have been "out" become magical memories you try to recapture.
And whatever you do, learn about grace—unmerited, undeserved favor. Get your buckets ready because you're going to need to bathe in and have it handy to dump over others.
Dear 21-year-old Me,
It's true. He loves you. He really loves you. That ring on your finger is not imaginary, and that wedding is going to happen.
You are worthy of his love. Don't doubt it. Not for one more second. He desperately needs you to believe in him and commit to making this work, because neither of you has any idea what life will look like beyond the wedding.
Dig in. There is such a thing that is falling in and out of love. But it's momentary and fleeting. The truth is we choose to step in and out of commitment. I know, I know. Your heartbeat is out of control when he walks into a room, and your hands still get clammy when you occupy the same breathing space. You can't imagine not being head over heels in love with every single cell of his being.
Life tends to dull the senses. Intentionality sharpens them.
Faith, my darling. Invite Jesus into your marriage.
Also, please give yourself time to grieve. Your wounds will not heal themselves. Turn to what you know to be true.
You cannot run this race-fueled on your accomplishments. You will come to the end of yourself, and nothing can take the place of the One and Only.
And remember the grace thing. It's about to kick into high gear.
Dear 28-year-old Me,
You are a mama—his mama. And this baby will grow to love, adore, and protect you. Trust. He will teach you how to knock down those well-constructed walls as he sways his way into the crevices of your heart you didn't know existed. You are not going to screw him up—okay, maybe a little, but no kid is perfect. Enjoy rocking him, singing those lullabies, and kissing that ginormous head. One day—quicker than he can spit up all over your fifth outfit of the day, he will be taller than you and be running around a football field, rendering you to the stands cheering him on and praying for his safety.
Fast forward 13 months.
Breathe again. And again.
Yes, God has a sense of humor, and you and Jeromy are the proud recipients. You are her mama, too—and she will attach herself to you literally and physically. She will stretch you like you've never been stretched before. She will fill your house with sass, laughter, and tears. She will be the exclamation point, not known for her subtleties. Enjoy the piggy tails, the dance recitals, the coloring sessions, the baby dolls, and the horseback riding. One day, she will be taller than you, and she will ask you the hardest questions you've ever been asked. She will be beautiful, and people will notice, and again, you will pray. There will be lots of words spoken—more than you can fathom.
Give yourself grace and leave plenty of room for everyone else. You should be familiar with the concept by now.
Dear Today's Me,
You have endured a rough road stretch, complete with bumps, bruises, scrapes, and black eyes. All the while, Jesus held on to you, and you dug your claws into Him, and once again, you breathe.
There are hard days.
There are days filled with immense joy.
That man of yours still loves you as you love him. And most days—you like one another, too.
The kids are the best and most fun right this very minute, and don't you dare miss a second of it worrying, stressing, or flipping out over the maybe, the mights, or the what-ifs.
Enjoy them. Enjoy him.
Stay close to Jesus. He is your lifeline, your support system, your daily source of strength.
Love God. Love others. Use your gifts. Love your people.
And yes, you will most definitely take a shot of grace. Please, and thank you.
Dear Future Me,
Your purpose is to live and to breathe as long as you are.
Love God. Love others.
Drink in your people.
Anticipate your future.
Give grace. Receive it with tons of gratitude.