a letter to my eighteen year old self
I have been thinking about this post for a while, knowing that I would really give my sweet little eighteen year old self an earful, if I could. She was just precious. Little wispy bangs, a conservative application of mascara (though usually none) and a weird sense of humor. Stacks of books and journals, sponge-painted star border in her room. But I think she'd do well to hear a few words from me. So here goes.
Dear Sarah Beth,
You're not going to believe this, but one day you'll shake your head about that black and white plaid taffeta crop top over a long black skirt that you (by you, I mean mom, of course) made for your senior homecoming dance. But A FOR EFFORT, sister. You looked adorable with Dixie (who actually sewed hers up herself, with full on sketches first and whale bone in the corset). And I'm pretty sure you had a great night anyway. Even if dances aren't your thing. That's probably a good place to start, actually.
Dances are not your thing. This isn't too weird, actually, even though people seem to think so. Also, you don't do pep rallies (remember trying to sweet talk your way out of that one?) or school spirit and sports games and *gasp* this is not a character flaw. Go ahead and psych yourself up for this: you're a little different. You walk to the beat of a different drummer and your nerdy humor and loving to write and the inordinate amount of daydreaming you do and how you feel just a little bit like things don't fit? It's actually a really beautifully designed expression of Jesus and He delights in you. You're really lovely. That whole high school system of standards is a little jacked up and I think it'll be easy to get tired of fighting it...but you can. Fight for who God made you to be by caring for yourself and caring for others. Be a little more tender and a little less hard. Sarcasm will get you nowhere and is going to embarrass you on more than one occasion. Kindness will go much further, sweet thing. Let Jesus move your mouth and let the Word source your words.
Speaking of words: keep writing. You'll get a lot of input on what you should do "when you grow up". Keep writing. Don't waffle around on that. And I don't mean all those emotional journals (I actually just tossed a majority of them - don't freak out). I mean write poems and short stories and lessons you're learning. Keep those close.
On all that daydreaming: learn to take your thoughts captive. You'll be heartbroken later (on numerous occasions) by breakups and friendship conflict that could have been largely avoided if you learn to submit your thoughts and ideas to Jesus Christ. Spending all that time daydreaming about that one boy is about to be idolatry, girlie. Cut that out. Your God is mighty and holy and He longs for your heart and your thoughts to be His. Start memorizing more Scripture. Measure your thoughts against the truth of God's Word, so that even your innermost dreams become aligned with His heart for you. I know. This makes only a little bit of sense. But trust me and start memorizing the Word.
Oh, okay, here's a thing: you only think you're chubby. I don't know why or where you heard it or what mirrors you're looking in, but girl, you are BEAUTIFUL. Learn to take care of yourself, learn to be active. But learn that your appearance is not the final say on your value. In a few years you'll lose 30lbs and then you'll think you're beautiful because guys start paying attention to you and it is all downhill for a minute. Don't buy into that, SB. You're wiser than that. You are more than your weight or the size of your jeans. And for a few years, that number will be horrifying - sorry about that. But you will recover and get into a normal size pant again. The point is that you are enough just as you are, because you are a being-loved daughter of Jesus.
And another thing. Your twenties are going to be really, really hard. Don't compare your story to that of others and don't despair. You will make it, because Christ in you is enough. That won't make sense for a long time. But you are safe. Mom and Dad really, deeply love you and are going to do some big things to walk through the hard days with you. You'll meet The Guy right on time (even though it will feel like too long of a wait) and God will use Him to heal some of the hurts. And then you'll walk through the valley of the shadow together. But you'll be together. And you'll begin to really understand more of the Father's unfailing love. You and Brendan will figure out adult sibling stuff at some point and have a good cry together. Oh, and he's going to be a really fabulous uncle.
I wish I could prepare you for All The Things. I can't. Your "feeler" will go off the charts for several years and I don't think it's our fault or mom and dad's fault. I think it's honestly so that Christ can be glorified. You are one of the roads He is traveling to tell His story to others...and I can't make that not hurt. But here's the thing: in fourteen years or so, you'll know Him. And I. Mean. KNOW Him. Remember that line you wrote in your share-at-youth-group testimony about wanting to be made into the image of Christ Jesus? Oh, baby. The Father takes you up on that and moves in with a glorious fury to burn away the pieces of you that are not of Him. He applies scandalous grace to your failures. He becomes your life in ways you never dreamed. And it is all the good times "above the line" (you'll get that later, too).
You're enough, baby girl.
Because the Father dwells in you and loves in you and He is for you.
And HE is enough for all the things.
Trust me on that one.
PS - We're almost 32 and kind of having a midlife crisis about it. PS2 - That girl up there hugging you while you eat your watermelon? She sticks around. Be good to her. PS3 - Don't pierce your cartilage. Just go straight for the nose.