Dear Me at 16,
You kind of crack me up. You’re pretty quirky and have even worn two non-matching flowered items at the same time to school. Yet, you’re just like every other girl at the school. You want to be cute. You want to be liked. You wish folks would notice you.
You’re going to have a rough sort of year. Most of your friends freshman year either graduated or moved away. Your last remaining close friend will move away at the end of this school year and the start of the next. Heather makes you laugh. Love that. Enjoy it as often as you can. Eat her up. Listen to her stories. And speak the truth (but be gentle. Your 28 year old self still hasn’t mastered that… if you worked on it… maybe we’d be better at it by now?)
Stop wallowing in your own “pain.” You’re 16, and none of the issues you have are serious. They’re first world problems. Life is bigger than you. Yes, you’re depressed. Yes, things are hard. Yes, you need guidance. Yet none of that is an excuse to bury yourself in the prideful trap of self-pity. You were born for a purpose. You were placed in where you are for a purpose. You experienced some rough things for a purpose. Own it.
Go to church summer camp, and Governor’s School. You’re going to shirk a responsibility for that and not become a lifeguard at a job you were promised a year before: don’t feel guilty about it. At church summer camp, you’re going to be introduced to the truest love ever: the kind of Love that dies for you when you’re completely unworthy. You weren’t expecting that grace… after all, you’re the people pleasing good girl. Oh, but you’re going to need it. And it’s going to change you, but it’s going to take awhile. Sanctification is a long process.
Governor’s school. Oh, me, I wish you had worked harder. I wish you had dug deeper and drank lustily from all of those writing workshops. I wish you had found your voice… the one you sometimes see flick in and out on this humble blog. I wish you had done that work for me then. But, sweet Melissa, taste the failure of that summer. Taste it and be humbled, but know that it’s what will prepare you for college. You will be able to balance residential life and school because of that experience. You’ll need that balance to maintain a full scholarship.
Oh, and that conversation with your roommate. The one you judged for being that pretty skinny blond girl with everything going for her: remember that. She had the same deep struggles as you. It doesn’t matter how we live: our hearts have the same problems. We all need the same Savior. Remember that. Learn to preach truth now.
You’re going to make the Socastee Singers at the beginning of the next school year. You’re going to be the weakest musician in the group this year. That’s okay. Because this year, and the next will not be about the music for you (although that will be glorious!). That music is a guise for someone to invest in you. That teacher will grow you. Will challenge you. And by your senior year, he will have helped you grow into a facilitator-leader. That’s important. Even though it stretches you. But it’s a gift developed in you for the future. A college major, definitely. A group of women to study the world with, we’ll soon see?
You’re going to pick up a camera this year. It’s going to enamor you. Let it. Learn it well. You’ll make beauty with it to reflect true Beauty.
Forget about boys. You’re too young, sweet girl. Too naive. Too trustworthy. Too desperate. Spend these years filling yourself with the Lover. You’re really not going to. That’s okay. That time will come. But I do wish you’d have listened to me on this one. Your husband, he’s waiting for you. Saving his first kiss for you. He’s gentle. Kind. He makes you laugh. And he’s a total nerd (we both know how much you’re a sucker for nerds). He’s perfect for you: but he’s not the perfect lover. Never will be. Only Jesus is.
And speaking of Jesus. Melissa Ann, he’s worth it. His gospel is worth it. Everything. Give yourself to it. It’s a purpose. A calling. And it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful to know without a doubt that you were put here for a reason (to glorify him), that when you fail He’s already taken care of that (oh how He loves!), and that He gives you gifts to show Him, share Him, and grow others in Him. Oh, invest yourself in seeking Him. And when you come out of those baptismal waters, don’t just give a shy smile. Oh, how I wish you’d have jumped up in victorious joy!
But in any case, 16 year old me, know that you’re neither too much nor too little for this world’s critics. Oh, Melissa, you’re perfectly made for the place you’re called to: even when it doesn’t feel that way.
Thanks for making me who I am. Love you.
Your 28 year old self.
Inspired by other Dear Me letters and Graceful