Dear much younger me,
I see you standing there in cafeteria. Your eyes desperately searching for a seat. One you can slip into and try hard to swallow the food that sits like a rock because you eat in fear… so afraid of being noticed. Afraid someone might just realize you are alone. All this seems like a foreign land. This school. 3,500 kids. You long to be back home in that little town. That summer spent romping through woods. Having friends. Belonging. You take that last bite and it sticks right there in your throat.
I want you to know each one of those girls that seemed to have it all together, have all the friends… they are just like you. They are all desperately seeking just like you. They all struggle. They all fear. It looks different to each of them, but still the same. The desire to belong. To fit in.
In about five years you will see proof of this fear. You will see one of the popular girls in a store, (you will be surprised to realize that she remembers you, you were not invisible after all) and she will apologize to you. She will tell you she always liked you, but you could not be friends. That would have jeopardized everything… She will say to you, “you understand how it was?”
I wish I could tell you it was sunshine and butterflies after high school, but that would be a lie. But the pain and hardship you will go through, they mold you into who you are today. If I could whisper one thing in your ear to never forget it would be God is always with you.
Even when you turn 18 and get sick with the undiagnosed illness. The one that brings scorn from those at church. Words that cut you wide open. Lies that take many years to heal. Pregnant. Drugs. Eating disorder. The words swirl in your head and you run fast. And you feel alone. And you believe God has left you. Because if these were His people, how could they treat you this way. I want you to know He never left. Never.
As you walk out the door of church and don’t look back because it hurts just too much… He is walking right there beside you. He is fighting for you as you try to find your way on your own. To belong. He is holding you as your heart breaks over and over again searching for someone to love you. And He greets you with arms open wide when you go running home nearly 20 years later.
All of this may sound a little scary right now. And you are probably thinking,”No this is not my life. It is not what I planned.” But I promise… it all works out. You find the one with the tender heart. The one that loves you like Jesus. You have a little girl that turns you inside out. You get two amazing girls by way of marriage. And later God brings a little one to your doorstep that needs a home.
And you have God.
And life is good.
Your much older self
Emily Freeman has released a new book, Graceful. It is written for teen girls. What I would not have given to have this book when I was just a girl. Emily encourages us not to forget, because they need us to remember. These girls, they need us.
Want to read more letters, or maybe, write your own? Go here. Be warned, bring tissues.