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Dear Me,

Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky has just released a new book called Graceful for teenage girls.  Today she’s hosting a link-up for people to write letters to their sixteen year old selves.  I have purposefully not read any other “Dear Me,” letters yet so I’m not sure if mine will be of the sort that she was envisioning but I have a lot of things to say to my 16 year old self as well as things I want 16 year old Charlotte to know.

Dear Me,

Sixteen was both a really bad year and a really good year.  Now, looking back on it, there is a lot that I wish you had known at that time in your life.

You’re not going to regret the parties that you didn’t go to or the mistakes that you didn’t make.
You’re making mistakes every day and that’s part of growing up.  But don’t feel bad for passing up a party full of bad decisions or feeling like you’re the only one at the lunch table who doesn’t know what some slang term means.  Keeping yourself well-grounded and out of some of the fray is not something that you’re going to regret, even if it is a little lonely at times.  

At the same time, remember that just because your mistakes are different from other people’s, that doesn’t make them any better or worse.
You’re a sinner just like everyone else and nothing you or anyone else does can take either of you so far away from God that you can’t be forgiven.  Try hard to make sure that people know that while you might not want to participate in their activities (or condone them), that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be their friend or think you’re better than they are.

You will never get these years of freedom back, so enjoy them.
Don’t worry about weight or looks or anything else, because right now you don’t have to! You are skinnier than you will ever be again and you should enjoy it!  Don’t spend extra time worrying over what you’re eating or try to do more than you like to.  Don’t flaunt your body but don’t spend any time at all worrying about whether or not you’re too heavy or can’t wear the same size jeans as the next girl.  You will look back on yourself and wonder why on earth you ever concerned yourself with what you ate because you looked great!

In addition, if you want to do something spontaneous do it!  Spend all day at the pool or reading a book or taking pictures, whatever you want to do.  Soon life is going to get in the way and you’re interests will be put on the back burner for college and your family and you’ll wonder why you didn’t invest more time in yourself when you had the chance.  If you want to try something new, do and don’t be afraid to fail once or twice in learning something new.

Don’t let being scared hold you back.
Having a close friend pass away from cancer was scary, no doubt about it.  But you will always regret that you didn’t call to schedule one last visit soon enough.  Just because it’s scary or unknown or you don’t know what to say, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t press through it and just be there.  Sometimes a presence does more than any words can ever do. 

Call and invite someone to do something.
Most people are just as concerned with being left out as you are and won’t always think to call you and let you know what plans are.  If you want to do something, call and ask someone to go with you, and don’t read more into them not thinking to call you than there really is.  If you want people to call and invite you places consistently, you need to call and invite them places consistently!

Boys are boys and when God is ready to set your mate in your life, He will, without your help.
There are lots of nice guys, but don’t spend your time worrying about whether this nice guy is the one for you.  Did any of your thinking and wondering and questioning do anything to bring Jason into your life faster? Nope.  It just kept you focused on something other than God.  And then He went ahead and brought Jason, who you had never even thought might be out there, into your life and you both knew that that was it.  

Pray for everyone you know and for everyone that anyone asks you to pray for.
It’s pretty cool that you started praying for Jason months before you ever met him at the request of Tim during Doulos.  You were abstractly praying for him, as your husband, anyway, but it was pretty cool to watch God answer your prayer’s for Tim’s friend in a way that you never could have anticipated!

Have fun.  Relax.  Enjoy this time.
Soon you’ll be writing essay’s for college entrance.  Then papers for classes.  Then interviewing for jobs.  Then working all the time.  Then having a family.  It’s each more stressful and time consuming than the last, so have some extra fun while you have extra time.  The rest of your life is going to be awesome, but you don’t need to rush it.  It will come soon enough.

Jennifer

*You can read other letters on Emily’s blog.

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