A while back I was asked to put a little something together for a group of teenage girls for their Bible study. I was excited for the opportunity, yet intimidated all at the same time.
I put it off, making excuses for why I just didn't have the time to sit down and compile the words, but I couldn't get it off my mind. God had placed these girls on my heart, and I knew it was my responsibility to impart some type of wisdom from my experiences at that age.
The truth is, I have a lot of regrets from my late high school and early college years. To say I was lost would be an understatement. As much as I wish I could go back and do things differently, I'm thankful for what I learned throughout those years.
As I found my way back to God, my relationship with Him was transformed. The foundation shifted from, "Where will you go when you die?" to one of the realization of His abundant love and grace. It was life changing, and I thank the Lord constantly for his mercy and forgiveness.
I decided to write a letter to my sixteen-year-old self and give it to these precious girls with the hope that it might make them stop and evaluate the types of decisions they were making. I decided to share it here on the blog with the same intention - it's hard to go back to those years, but at the same time, I don't want my mistakes from that time in my life to be in vain.
If you happen to be reading and are experiencing a season of being lost, please know that God asks us to come as we are. It's never too late to turn your life around - His grace is truly abundant, and His mercies are new every morning. He will never stop loving you.
Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Self,
You are a beautiful child of God, and He loves you and will always love you so very much. No matter what. Never ever forget that.
Don’t bother trying to measure up to the world’s standards. The only opinion that matters is your Savior’s whose unfailing love surpasses any superficial standard you or anyone else could impose upon yourself.
Don’t let others define your worth. Ask for the Lord to shower you with love and grace daily, so you aren’t looking to others to fill up your emotional cup. They will only let you down and disappoint you for they are unable to fill your voids.
Please don’t complicate things with dating and boys; neither the boys nor you are anywhere near emotionally ready. God has that special man picked out for you; don’t feel the need to seek him out yourself. Work diligently to make yourself whole in Jesus Christ before you even begin to think about giving a part of your heart to anyone else.
Honor your body, heart and soul, and save all of these for that special man you will marry one day. Never underestimate friendship - be strong now, and you’ll save yourself a boatload of hurt and regret later.
Focus on school, discovering your passions, making meaningful friendships that will hold you accountable and most importantly strengthening your relationship with the Lord. This time in your life is about discovering yourself and God’s will for your life. Don’t surrender to temptation; it will merely get you off the path that the Lord has paved for you, His sweet child.
Nothing good comes from alcohol, absolutely nothing. Be strong in your faith, and stand up for what you believe is right even if you get made fun of for it. Those people who ridicule you are merely yearning for the security you possess in your smart decisions, believe me.
Make good decisions – poor ones almost always come with consequences, some that will haunt you for years to follow or change life as you knew it forever. You truly reap what you sow. Surround yourself with friends who want to make good decisions, also; misery loves company – remember that.
Be confident, yet humble at the same time. Avoid a judgmental attitude, and be joyful in the love and grace that the Lord generously provides. Be thankful for God’s mercy, and strive to be a light in this dark world. His Truth will set you free, and hold fast to the Word. It will be your shield, and sweet thing, you are going to need one.
Life is tough, and trials, mistakes and tribulations are inevitable. Just remember you are loved, you are loved, you are loved, and with God you can withstand anything.
Your Twenty-Four-Year-Old Self