March 4, 2013

On my birthday- a letter to my teenage self

Dear Girl,

You are beautiful. You are talented. You are worthy of good things. You are lovable.

Sometimes, you believe this. Some days it comes natural. Feels easy. Other days, your world tilts and all is a bit cock-eyed. You find it hard to crawl out of bed, do this, all of this, for one more day.

Dear girl. You are worth more than a name call at an assembly, an acknowledgement over an intercom. Your cumulative contribution to a sports team.

Dear girl. You are more than the MVP, SCA, SAT, GPA, or an AP A.

Somehow right now, life is an endless race out-of-bed and into-the-shower. Get to class. Rack up the points, the prestige, the popular vote. Blend in, ride low or sit up front.  Not much changes between now and then ... even though everything does. What will matter later is what really matters now and you won't remember the position or the paper. The brand of your pants.

But the people ...

And it's funny really how you are all the same there within those mascot colored bricks, laminate lunch tables.

Same fears. Same needs. Same desires.

Rejection, isolation. Acceptance, grace. Love, belonging. We are people ...

Dear girl. This is life! ... only the junior-varsity version. And you are YOU through and through since the day you entered in, all flailing and needy in mother arms.

And your parents really do know you best: all those quirks and the unspoken messages you send. The way you storm away, slam a door, look away when you fib. The way you pick at your food.

And all the gifts you came into the world with? They are the same gifts you possess right now; they are the gifts you'll hand out unknowingly over your entire lifetime.

'Cause DNA doesn't morph and the Maker doesn't make mistakes.

So, girl. Don't hold out on us! Forget that gift you wish you had. It ain't yours to give away!  So don't steal her joy and don't make us miss out on yours. The world is waiting for you to grow into your just- right-skin.

The world is waiting for just-right you.

At 35, you'll look back and see it. "Oh, I was good at that back then too ..."

If friends call you 'safe' now ... they will call you 'safe' later. Yes, this is your gift.

So stop trying to be elusive, dynamic ... cool.  Just be a soft landing. The world needs more of those.

Girl, you are emotional and in your head and details are not your thing. But you are hungry for real living and you feel things deeply, crave aesthetics and adventure at your core. This won't change.

But choose wisely, huh?

Give lots of grace and love well. Because everything comes down to people and everyone is in the midst of their own young story. Think of it! A million half stories being written: day by day by day. So be kind. Some books are longer than others. Some novels more gritty, others pure symphony. But all worthy reading ... all with plot and conflict, irony and climax.

All penned by the same Great Author. So be gentle. Patient.

With yourself. And with others. Because we only really know the chapters we have lived ... mere fractions of the whole.  And you? God willing? You're still in the first fifth of your  story.

So don't size up too quick. Write off too fast.

Love that gal who trips up instead of calling her a hypocrite, a disaster. This faith life is hard to wrap arms around. And it's in the working-out of your faith that it becomes real ... worth holding onto for dear life. 

Give her grace? Not more grief. Because you'll meet again and she'll be toting a baby on her hip at Target. Just. like. you.

She'll wonder if you remember her. She'll breathe relief when you do.

Then she'll ask you about Mom's Morning Out and nap schedules ... how to find time to run. You'll tell her you have no idea- about the running thing- and she'll admit how tired she really is. How marriage can be so lovely ... and so hard. How she really shouldn't be spending any more money but how she's simply got to get out of that house.

She'll ask you if you're still at that one church. And she won't really be asking about a building but about a way of living. She'll be asking how to make it through these days, and girl? It's then that  you'll begin to see the bigger picture. Because we all still need to know that we have high purpose, high value... a reason for being.

You'll look back to now- these high school walls- you'll look ahead to where you thought you wanted to be. You'll see this whirlwind of fashion and friends and fierce feelings as beautiful and tormented and yes ... fleeting. You'll thank God you made it through.

You'll see it was a mere piece of the whole picture.

Girl, take a deep breath in and out and let your shoulders sink.

Be good to yourself. Be brave. Love yourself well. And others too. Trust the bigger story.

And hang in there.

What is devastating you won't break you, even if you are toe-over-edge and teetering.
And if you hold on, you'll be stronger, built up, and battled-scarred in the best kind of way.

Because what bruises you now will make you a well of grace later ... Grace for a fracturing, waiting world.

So girl, this life? It funnels fast and funny and no matter where you go, where you work, what job or university you land ...

You'll eventually see how this life adds up to people - in our wake and in our grasp -
people yet waiting to hear from us, see us living our lives well, to the glory of the One who gave us our days.

So I wish I could tell you to treasure your uniqueness, to value your gentle spirit, and not to wince every time someone says, "speak up." They want to hear what you have to say!

You are just right and fiercely brave: saying 'yes' in your own time ... keeping step with His.

Girl, you are lovely and darling and dear. You are but one perfect piece in a most beautiful puzzle.
Take your place with grace and with ease. Look straight ahead and don't be afraid. Be excellent, yes! Work hard, yes!

Be brave enough to treasure your life and then hand it over, not to the masses, but to the One who first gave it.

You, beautiful you!, exist for the benefit of us all. But first, you must exist for Him.  

And He who began a good work in you will finish.

This, girl, is a promise. He has only just begun.

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