There’s a song by Nichole Nordeman and it’s a letter to her high school self. It’s a pretty cool writing activity and you should try it. I did. Here we go:
Wow, congratulations. You made it to senior year. You know exactly what you want to do, and I promise, you will get there. While it seems silly to have to do these ridiculous things like go to college and live some life before starting full time ministry, I promise it will be worth it.
In the meantime, know some of these things:
It’s ok to be comfortable with who you are. Stop tugging on your shirt and assuming people are thinking about how big you are. No one is noticing, and if they are, they don’t matter.
You had a breakup and it was sad, but everyone was right and it’s ok to admit that and move on in confidence that you were saved from a lifetime of complication.
Your struggle with these friends will fade. The person you constantly fight with will be your forever friend. It’s ok that you aren’t talking in this season because you will talk in all of the other seasons and it will be so worth it.
People will continue to make mistakes. It’s ok to give them grace. Shame does not need to be the way we get our point across. Listen to your friends. There are reasons people do the things they do. It’s ok to hold your close friends accountable. Or to even hold them at all when they fall short. It is not ok to shame them for the mistakes they make that we are all one step away from. Mercy is key.
Your breakup with the church will be tough, but it will eventually make you stronger. While many don’t make it to the road back, you will and you will be more compassionate because of it. You’re so young in your faith and even just in general and seeing behind the curtain will be a learning experience, but don’t let it ruin you forever.
Stop eating out. Seriously. Spending $20 on a dinner at a fancy restaurant with your best friend every week is probably too many dollars. You’re 18. What are you even ordering? You can’t drink. While those memories will be great, you could eat an equally delicious meal at Chick-Fil-A and maybe save a little.
Maybe take out less student loans too, while we are on the topic of money. Apparently you will have to pay them back.
You will exchange wearing PJ pants in public for amazing black stretchy pants. This is the trend and will be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they are not leg prisons and a curse because they will trick you into thinking you have not put on 25 lbs. Don’t listen. Take advantage of the stretchy pants, but trade them out for real pants with buttons every once in a while.
One day you will see Justin Timberlake in the middle of nowhere outside of Nashville. You will run. Yep, that’s right. You won’t say hi or ask for a picture. You will freak yourself out and run in the other direction. This will be your biggest regret.
The qualities you want in a man are important, and even still valid 10 years later, but there are other qualities that are more important. Make sure it’s a priority to find someone who loves you and communicates clearly. Guitars and beards are great, but these things are the very most important.
You think you’ll end up in Buffalo, but it’s farther off than you or I realize. You will still have a heart for that place and visit often, but it is not our home. We go where we are called and for now it’s Georgia and that’s actually not a bad thing at all.
Also, don’t let this crush you.
You won’t be married by 23. Or 25. Or even 30. Not even an almost. It sounds like a sentence to singleness and like it could be the most miserable thing, but it’s actually not that terrible. Your friends will have babies and you’ll wish it could be you, but you get to be an aunt to those babies and sleep in a little longer in the mornings because you give those babies back at the end of the day. That’s ok. You’ll get to be a mom to many students and walk with them through a lifetime of bright and dark moments.
Just because it doesn’t happen when you think it will, doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid dream and it’s definitely not a dead dream.
Your life will be filled with so many beautiful things. You know some of your lifetime friends now and you’ll make even more that will brighten your life and make you laugh until your whole body hurts. You will find a dog who will snuggle you and teach you so much about life and the character of God. You will travel to places you never thought you’d see and they will change you and enlighten you. Cherish those moments. Love others well and care for them. God was so serious about that command.