Dear Me: A Letter to My Teenage Self

Dear Me,

Remember when you lay face down in the carpet crying, “God if you’re real, show me”? You were thirteen, questioning, as is your way, everything you’d been taught in Sunday School.

God met you there, in the middle of that shag carpet. Quiet but unmistakable. You didn’t “see” anything, but you knew in a way that marked you forever. In a way you could never forget.  Not even years later when you would try to wipe it from your mind.

And that’s what I’m writing you about, dear Me.

You’re a freshman in college. God is so real, he’s almost tangible. You’re talking to him always, and he’s talking back. He’s your best friend, only better.

The sweetness of God, He’s spilling out everywhere. You can’t contain it. Girls in the dorm are knocking on your door, bringing their pain and leaving with hope. They’re carrying notes you’ve written to remind them of truth.

It’s all Him. You’re caught up, enraptured. Except this one thing.

It’s harmless fun, attention from guys. Hasn’t it always been? You tell yourself it’s just a momentary thrill, entertainment really.

But part of you is always looking — scanning faces in the lecture hall, shadowy figures at the party — for the guy who will fill that gap, that little place of emptiness. You hope it will be him, or maybe him. It’s a blur of faces.

But you find him in the summer of your freshman year. All blonde and tan with abs to die for, your surfer boy dream come true. Amazingly he falls for you. Hard.

It’s classic summer romance, boats and beach, sun and surf, handholding in moonlight. At the end of the summer, he leaves for his Marine post, the other side of the world for a year.

He doesn’t own a Bible, but he promises to read one. You give him yours, the one you used to read every day.

He writes you. Every day for 365 days. You write him back. He sends a huge portrait of the two of you.  He had it painted from a photograph. You hang it in your dorm room above the bed.

He tells you he joined a Bible study. And he’s praying. He talks to you about God. The missing piece falls into place.

You make plans long distance.  He comes home and they come true. You graduate.  He makes it into the prestigious MBA program.

The spring before his graduation you’re doing the yuppie couple thing at South Street Seaport, talking Wall Street futures. The guys brag carat sizes for engagement rings. You’ve both talked marriage for years, and now it‘s finally time.

But somewhere in there is an important part I skipped. Somewhere in there you leave God out. You don’t just neglect Him, you cross him off your list.

You come to that fork in the road — or maybe there were many forks — and you choose your perfect guy. Perfect except he doesn’t have God in his life, and even you can’t deny it any more.

At first you agonize. You wish you had never said that prayer face down in the carpet. You wish God had never shown himself. That you didn’t now see His face hovering, His shadow blotting out your happiness, making you choose.

You try to walk on both sides of the fence, holding God with one hand and your dream with the other. But you’re so tired of holding out your arms this way, so tired of being pulled apart. So you let go.

You let go God’s hand, but God doesn’t let you go.

Maybe this is why you can’t say yes. Even though you’ve checked all the boxes in your dream man checklist.  Maybe you just know the cracks in this perfect picture. Maybe it’s the arguments, the temper and tears you try to ignore.

It’s hard to make a clean break when you’ve become so entwined. But one day you emerge from the wreckage that was your dream.

The years spin out, Godless and fast. Your castles crumble and wash out to sea. You stumble back, and find yourself face down in the carpet once again.

I’m writing, dear Me, to tell you

It doesn’t have to be this way. Deal with that one thing. Before you reach the fork in the road.

Enjoy those days of sweetness with your Savior and don’t ever let go.

Friday I’m linking up with Emily Freeman to celebrate her new book, Graceful. It was written for a girl like my teenage self, the good girl who got tired of trying.

What would you say to your teenage self?

If you’d like to write your own letter, post it in your blog and link up with Emily.

Read everyone’s letters here.

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