>(This week I am writing a series of advice letters to myself at ages 15, 20, 25 & 30. I cannot claim the idea as an original and you can read about to whom I gave due credit to here. Commenting on today’s post, as well as joining me and writing a letter to your younger self will earn you additional entries in Thursday give-away. You can read about that here. In reality, if I were ever given the chance to alter my past, I don’t think I would take it. Every step I took, even the missteps led me to where I am today. So this letter is more for those who are currently teenagers, as well as for my daughter to read ten years from now.)
Dear Me at Age 15,
I’m writing this letter to you a month after my…our 35th birthday. First things first…choosing the appropriate tenses for this letter is challenging and makes me happy that I’m not a science fiction writer. Please do your best to follow along. I’m also not going to reveal too much of your future, rather I want to focus on who you are as you read this letter. I will, however, humor you and answer the one question I know you most want answered.
Yes, you will get married someday…and he’s a wonderful man. You’ll meet him when you’re 24, which means that the kind boy with the arresting blue eyes and awkward smile who you’ll meet in Denver six months from now, will not carry you over a threshold. And trust me, that’s O.K. Look forward to the trip, because you will experience God in ways you never have before. And by all means, befriend the boy. In fact, I’m even fine with you allowing him to put his arm around you as you behold the spectacular beauty of a cascading waterfall. Honestly, I think every girl could use an innocent dose of romance during her teen years. But please, I beg you, please do not stalk him with letters or phone calls…the result will be the same and you’ll only feel worse knowing that you unleashed the inner psycho that lurks inside every hormonally charged teen-aged girl.
When he writes and explains that there is someone else he cares more about and that you shouldn’t feel bad about second-place…gracefully loosen your grip on that dream, gently kiss it good-bye, and then let it go. Cry on your pillow. Cry to your best friend,. Cry as you watch a sappy movie and eat a bowl of chocolate ice-cream. But don’t use up too many tears, and don’t cry to the boy. And yes, the “second place line” is dreadful…but cut him some slack…he meant well and few males acquire the knack for tact and subtlety by age 18. Oh, by the way, be sure to spend time getting to know the boy’s older sister, the two of you have real friendship chemistry. In twenty years, you’ll be joking with each other about your thin hair and pasty skin.
Now that I got the easy stuff out of the way, let’s talk about high school. As far as I am concerned prison and high school have two things in common…bad food and brutality. Those kids who teased you mercilessly during middle school aren’t going to change their ways just because classes meet in a different building. But stop making it so easy for them. And the heavy-set guy who functions as class clown and chief tormentor…don’t fight him with big words. It will only make matters worse, because, you see, he already feels insecure. That’s why he picks apart others. If I were a betting woman, I would put a hefty wager on the fact that everyone sitting in those plastic blue desks carries the fear of insignificance. It’s why high school can be so ugly..hurting people, Hurt. People.
Don’t ever mold your pain into a weapon. Instead, use it to help you identify the hidden anguish in others. When the bullies target another victim, wipe the relief from your heart and encourage the oppressed. Tell them that they just heard a bunch of lies. Tell them that they are not ugly or stupid. Tell them that what they wear, how they style their hair, and what their parents do for a living does not affect their intrinsic value as human beings. (But don’t use the word intrinsic). Tell them about Jesus and how He changed your life. Instead of fighting to alter your status in a flawed system, fight for the truth.
Scary stuff, I know. But you are not alone. And those statements I just wrote to you about what to tell others…they apply to you as well.
Young Angela, when you look in the mirror and see a girl who has little worth, you are perpetuating a lie straight from the pit of hell (yes, I use that word sometimes…it’s a real place…it’s O.K.). You are loved and valued…and your life…it has purpose.
Devote some time each and every day to reading your Bible. Start with the letters from Paul and read them again and again. Let that truth be your motivation…let it set you free.
Now that we got the heavy stuff out of the way, I’m going to close with a list of ten tips for you as you navigate through the next five years of your life.
1 – Spend more time with your younger sisters
2 – Study more and watch less T.V.
3 – Don’t get over confident in your writing talent…you’ve got a lot to learn..but don’t dismiss it either…cultivate it.
4 – Eat more vegetables
5 – Your skin will never tan. NEVER. So do not pay money to stand in a tanning booth. And, DO NOT rub yourself with baby oil and lay in the sun for hours at a time—You will fry yourself red, blister, and your skin will peel. I’m not joking.
6 – Ignore your lack of coordination and start getting your body into shape.
7– Drop the motto, “You can never be too thin.” It’s a lie.
8 – Save your money
9 – Do not, under any circumstances, get credit cards when you are 18. Wait until you are 25.
10 – Learn how to swim
Hold on to Jesus. I’ll write you again when you turn 20.
The older and wiser you
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Epehsians 5:1-2
As I was finishing this letter, The Professor was watching the Grammy Awards, and I heard this song by Taylor Swift. She wrote it as advice to her fifteen-year-old self. Now, Miss Swift is only slightly older than 15 today, but still there is a lot of truth in her words.