a letter to my fifteen year old self.

Dear fifteen-year-old Erin,

315_40079260820_2003_nIts me, twenty-three year-old Erin. It may seem impossible to you in this moment, but believe it, girl, because we are here, and here is sticky sweet like all the sweat and honey.

Let’s be honest, though: you’re feeling like your life just fell apart.  Mom decided that she enjoyed the idea of freedom more than she enjoyed being married to Dad. She’ll choose other men over her husband and children, and your friends at school will tell you that divorce is normal — fun, even, because you get two of everything now. And even though it might be normal in 2005, you are painfully aware that there’s nothing fun about it.

Your friends will end up ditching you because you feel too much. And it isn’t really that you feel too much, its more like you don’t know where to put your thoughts and feelings, so they’re kinda mashed up right now.

Those angsty poems you’ve been writing lately? Yikes, girl. I’ll let you in on a crazy good secret: someday, your blog will be read in thirty-three countries.

You might not feel like it right now, but you are important.

Not because of how many countries your blog will be read in someday, or in that shallow, “I only wear A&F and Hollister and date the cutest guy in school” kind of way, though. You might think you want that, but trust me, deep down, you really want more than that.

I know that you used to get made fun of a lot when you transitioned from homeschooling to public school a few years ago, and it seems like that has worn off a little. But there’s this one girl who just has it in for you, and you have no idea what you did to ignite such a hateful blaze.

I’ve learned that they naysayers are everywhere. There are a few every now and then with skin on, but most of them live in your head, and they’re much harder to get rid of. Stick to your guns, girl. You possess a strength beyond what you can even comprehend.

You’ll fight hard with depression, even before your mom decides out of the clear blue sky to call it a day and wash her hands of eighteen years of marriage. It won’t make sense and it will be scary, and you’ll feel like hiding all day long. And I still have days like that, but they are much fewer and far between. We are making it, one day at a time. And that’s okay.

People will tell you that your standards are too high. It happened to me, just the other day. I was doing an activity for job training (by the way, you’re going to be a social worker someday) where we talked about personality traits that we sought out, or at least tolerated in a mate at sixteen versus the ones we looked for and tolerated at thirty. The instructor will be shocked when you tell him that you would in no way tolerate someone being disrespectful to you at sixteen. He’ll make fun of you, and you’ll feel sad, but only for a nanosecond. Then you’ll brush it off and pat yourself on the back for the fact that even at the flighty, impressionable age of sixteen,  you never settled for less than what you deserved.

Speaking of dating and finding a mate — that guy in the yearbook you thought you would end up marrying? You don’t marry him. Instead, you’ll go off to college and find out that the man of your dreams was living just three hours away the whole time, and you’ll think its hilarious how God does it. And let me tell you, he is cute and sweet and quirky and all the things you wrote down in your journal that you want to find someday.

The Lord has a plan. I know that sounds super vacation Bible school, even to you, but its true. Hard things will happen to the people you love, and you’ll question. You’ll shake your fists at a God you’ve believed in all your life, and you won’t know it at the time, but He uses those things to take you to places you have never been. Your faith will grow in ways you never thought possible, and you will learn that all is, indeed, grace.

You’ll realize that you’re important, not because of what anyone else thinks of you, but because He loves you. And your soul will fall in love with life in a thousand and one beautiful ways. Your heart will overflow. You will find joy in the most unexpected places.

In the meantime, keep going to football games with Dad and screaming your head out for the Panthers. Keep believing that in spite of everything, these are the best days of your life. Eventually, you’ll realize that everyday is the best day of your life because everyday is an opportunity to grow.

You are awesome, and I think about you all the time.

— Me

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Contributing to the beautiful Emily Freeman‘s collection of letters and shamelessly plugging her amazing book for young women. You can check out Graceful here on Amazon.

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