Dear 16-year-old Erin,
I know you have to get going to the Friday night football game…all dressed up in your cheerleading uniform…those were some of the best nights of our life. Live them. Remember them. Cherish them. But I have some things I would like to say…
I sit here, not wanting to write this letter to you…not because I specifically don’t want to, but because of the feelings and tears it will most likely produce. I never realized how much guilt and regret I hold onto because of you. Not anything you did, but what I’ve let happen. I’m in an incredibly hard season right now, and the longing I have for you, to be you once again, sometimes it threatens to swallow me whole. I don’t always feel this way, but as some seasons of life will teach you…sometimes you long for simpler times when the going gets rough.
You don’t believe me, I know. You’re excited for the future and feel that when you’re “grown up,” life will be perfect. At times, it will be pretty close. College, dating and marrying your best friend, experiencing adventures with him, and eventually having kids. These things are beautiful and fill your heart like nothing you ever knew could. Be excited. A lot of wonderful things have yet to come.
I know that life and love right now are confusing but exciting ideas to you. But that faith seems like a foreign word and that the Lord feels like a distant ruler who slaps your hand with his iron scepter when you’re bad. Learn to let this go. He is not a dictator, but your sweet loving Savior. You will struggle with this for a long time…I still do. But let Him in. His gentle and loving molding of our lives is far better than ending up broken without a remedy.
Believe the things you feel the Lord is telling you. You know what I am talking about. That dream? The one that you feel you’re too young to understand and that doesn’t make sense? Believe it. You will save yourself some heartache down the road. Next year, to be exact. Resist the temptation to hold onto anger for the things done to you. You will experience quite a bit of hurt at the hands of others in the next couple years. Its okay. Your identity is not in these things, but in the Lord. Run to Him. I know you want to. You won’t realize how much the hurt you’ll experience affects you until you’re…well…me.
Say hi and make friends with the people who aren’t part of your “group.” Someday a couple of them will actually be people you’re friends with and you’ll realize that cliques and being popular is not the end goal…and the regret I feel about that causes such a deep soul ache. The people you hurt, make feel less, or are completely oblivious of, they will sit heavy in your heart. Apologies that will probably never be made, hugs that will never be given, and love & acceptance that you so long to give them will sit in your heart and hurt like a one-sided hug. Never received but still with longing and good intention. You will feel like you let a lot of people down. So love. Love like you long to be loved. So many people are hurting and sometimes the healing of their hurt causes healing in your hurt too.
In this love, never give up pursuing people. Loving people. Someday, you’ll wonder where this negative and critical person you’ve become came from. I still don’t know. Let people in. Don’t let yourself become that. The person I am now is far from the person I wish I was. You are so close to being that person. Love like Jesus. Let Him break you and make you into the lover He wants you to be. You love like I wish I would now. But love more. Make it your life to love like Jesus.
Becoming an “adult” has no personality requirements. You don’t have to be stern, authoritative, or all together. Not being those things will help you to have fun. Be a fun person to be around. When you have kids someday (you’ll have two amazing kids – a girl and a boy, like you’ve always wanted), you’ll long to be that fun person. You’ll long to be more of a goof ball that acts like a kid and makes her littles laugh. Having kids will wreck you. In a good way. The beauty you see in them, the innocence and unconditional love and acceptance they have and give will make you realize what is important. And what is not.
And that is what is beautiful about writing this letter to you. That while I am going through a tough season where things in life are coming painfully to light, the me-in-10-more-years will have so much more to say, write, and reminisce to the me-now. That as I look back with joy on the past 11 years since I was you, the me-in-10-years will write to the me-now and hopefully share stories of victory, refreshment, and life.
Now run off to your Football game, sweet one. Let the joy and excitement wash over you.