On Friday, I will be linking this post to Emily's blog that is hosting a day to write letters to our teenage selves in celebration of the author's new book, Graceful, for teenage girls. Here is my letter. Why don't you write one, too?
Dear Marlen –
Dear Marlen –
I so wish I would have been able to tell you the things I am about to tell you. There is so much I wish you would have known, but I am also thankful for your innocence and love for life.
You are so sure that you are in love right now and I know you care deeply for the Boy, but it is not love. Much of it is lust and a desire to be wanted and needed. Guard your heart and your body. Don’t give that part of yourself away to the Boy. You will not be able to emotionally handle the consequences of having sex with him. It will not bring you closer or guarantee that he will not leave you. I know that you feel committed to him, that you could be with him forever, but you are not married. That type of relationship is for a husband and wife. Do not be fooled by your lust and emotions.
Continue to sing and sing a lot. You have a good voice and have the ability to do even better. Keep practicing and just sing. God loves your praise and worship. And dance. Often. I know your spiritual leaders would discourage it, but God loves to see you dance. It not only allows you to express yourself, but it is helping you exercise and be healthy.
Stop worrying so much about your spiritual walk such as "Am I reading my 3 chapters a day?" or spending 15 minutes in prayer and going to church and visitation? Don’t check things off like 5 steps to holiness. Cultivate a relationship with Jesus. Love on Him and let Him love on you. Read His Word and pray because you want to be intimately close to Him, not because it is expected by those around you, but because you love Him.
Don’t let anyone talk you out of breaking up with the Boy. When you decide to write that letter, stand by it. You do not have to stay with him if you know in your heart it is not right. Let him go, let him grow. If it is right, God will bring you back together. You will survive without him and he will survive without you.
Enjoy spending time with your friends and your sister. Your time with them is short, but you are cultivating friendships that you will have and need for a lifetime. Don’t take advantage of their kindness and loyalty. You will need each other. You can learn many things from them. Pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses and encourage each other to do your best and choose right.
You are just as beautiful and talented and smart as anyone else in your class or at youth group. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. You are uniquely created by God. You are well liked and that is great, but do not dwell on having to be liked by everyone. Some people will not like you and that is okay because they are not the type of people you will want to have as your friends. Your friends will love and accept you and you need to let them be enough.
When your older sister moves away and gets married, you will be sad and that’s okay. She has been your best friend and anchor for a long time, but it's time to let her go and let your relationship with her change. You need to not put so much weight into her opinions for your life. She loves you, but you need to remember that you and God know what the best is ultimately for you. Ask Him for advice more than her.
Your choices at 16 will greatly impact your future and good and bad, they are what they are. Try to let go of the past and look at the present, only glancing at the future. Try to live in the moment, enjoying your youth and not rushing yourself along to grow up so fast. Soon enough you will be an adult and you will long for school and weekends, late night phone calls and slumber parties.
And in case you’re wondering, your love for teaching will remain strong and you will become a second grade teacher. Keep studying and preparing for college. You are going to love learning and getting your degree. But, it won’t be easy. Focus and stay the course. It will be worth it.
Oh, and let that boy serenade you in the college cafeteria and don’t be embarrassed. He only wants to share his talent with you and hear someone clap for him. Those staring at him and you are really just jealous. To be so lucky to have a friend and admirer like him doesn’t come along often. Enjoy it.
Love – Marlen
PS – Your braces will be off in time for Senior portraits, so stop worrying!