This is part of a series of posts, Thoughts to My Mid-Self, I started as I officially entered my mid-30s. I wanted to look back to my other mid-age ranged self and speak some truth to myself then. I hope that, especially if you find yourself in that age range currently, you can learn something. If you are out of that age range too, then maybe you can look back on that range and give yourself some grace and recall what you've learned since then.
Here are some thoughts to my Mid-Teen self (ages 14 to 16):
Be kinder to your body. Eat food. Real food. You don't need pills to lose weight (you actually don't even need to lose weight). You don't need to starve yourself until you see spots. Eat. You aren't fat. And even if you were, who cares. Be healthy and stay active. Enjoy the ranch dressing because there will come a day when it actually does stick to your thighs (ha!), but for today there is still a gap between your thighs. Enjoy that gap. When you look in the mirror, know that you are beautiful. You don't need to fix yourself up all the time. You don't need to cover yourself up in name brands. Those that you impress with your outwards looks aren't people you truly want close to you anyway.
Go on every single trip. There will come a day when you can't afford to go to Austria, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Germany, Venezuela, and Honduras. Or going skiing, tubing down a river, or burying you feet in the sand at the beach just isn't a simple get away. Your life will still have adventure but you will have to budget for it and you will have some kiddos in tow!
You will come out of this scarred but stronger. These years are some of the hardest you will ever walk through. Some of the things you are about to endure are so secretive and shameful that you hide them from nearly everyone. You felt you had to. You don't. Get to counseling faster. Tell the counselor everything. It's OK to be totally grieved over this. Trust will come, although never the same. Joy will come again, more than you've ever experienced. Hope will come again, oh SO much hope! Life will spring up. Even now, Jesus is with you-- protecting you in ways you can't comprehend. Your story will be used to help so many others. These years of suffering grow you up faster than seems fair. But God. Sweet girl, you don't love or even know Him yet, but He is using this for good.
Raise your hand and volunteer to babysit her. There will be a woman who starts to play the piano for your choir class and she will have a baby named Samantha. Samantha will change your life. She will teach you more about the heart of God than any of those chapel services you are forced to sit through each week. Her family will give you such hope for your future. Hold her and just stare. She will never know you or be able to say anything back, and that's OK. God is speaking through her even if she is unable to move. Her life will be far too short, but it will serve to change yours. Go over to their family's house every time they open the door to you.
Apply yourself at school. I'm not sure when you started believing you aren't intelligent but you are... when you apply yourself. Becky, pick up the book and read it. You will make better grades, but more than that you will learn something. When the teacher is talking, day dream less and be present more. When there are study groups, go and not just because they sound like a fun social event. School is more than another social event. You actually love to learn. Embrace that side of yourself. Your grades will be good enough to get you into Texas A&M but you won't be proud of your effort when you get older and you will know far less than you should.
Too many boys + flirting + dating + special friends. Stop it. I can talk like your mother now because I'm her age and I actually know all your are up to. Stop it. You will regret this. You are impressing no one. Protect yourself. Say no more. Set up boundaries. All those boys are just boys. Have fun with friends, dating is a waste of time at this age. One day you will meet a guy who would so not be your type now, and he will be the greatest guy will you will ever know. He will ask for your hand and you will stand by his side until death do you part. In case you are curious, physical intimacy is ONE BILLION TIMES BETTER within marriage. Yes being with just ONE person for the rest of your life just gets better and better (if you let it).
Your whole life is about to change-- don't fear the change. This Jesus that you thought little of is about to become real to you. But first you have to get over some things. You have to get over that fun and freedom will look different than they used to. The good news is you truly will experience them more fully. Concern yourself less with all you have to give up. Ignore the hypocrites and the legalists. When your brother invites you to a Bible study for teens and young singles, go the very first time he invites you. The lead singer has dreamy blue eyes and the speaker is hilarious. Those two guys and that hero brother of yours sitting next to you, will change your life. Listen. Don't judge or fear. Just listen. Be open to God, Becky.
Nils is still one of your very favorite people on the planet. You are each other's constant in an inconsistent world. You can trust him and should listen to him more. He's changing right before you-- He is following this Jesus who you think is wacko. Listen to what Nils is learning. When he gives you advice, it would be helpful if you actually take it. Enjoy those drives to school with him. Grab breakfast together each morning and make up silly dances to the radio. In two years he will be off to college and you stay close but things will be totally different. Also, he would really appreciate it if you would keep his car cleaner... and maybe close the door so it doesn't break off next time. (Still sorry about that, bro.)
Drive slower. I don't know why all your friends think it makes you cool if you drive fast. It doesn't. You will actually know people that die from driving too fast. Dead isn't cool. Slow down.
January 7, 1997 will be the last time you ever do drugs or drink recklessly. You experience a wake up call. You will stop living a double life. You will think clearly again. You will learn how to be yourself, or who you want to be, without the help of those things. And one day, after you are of legal age and can make wiser choices for yourself, you will enjoy a good glass of wine and a fancy mixed drink. Until then, way to go in walking away from all of that. Radical choices are sometimes the very best.
You will say your best yes ever. It took 16 years of Jesus wooing your heart and you finally responded!!!! Best yes ever!!! Hearing that Jesus cried over the death of His friend helped you see the humanity of God. That prayer you prayed on the way to break up with your boyfriend is the least eloquent prayer you've ever spoken and the most beautiful. I feel certain it's God's very favorite one. There might have been cussing and there definitely was blubbering. In that moment you became His, a daughter of the King.
When you feel symptoms that just don't feel right, tell your mom immediately. You will be OK. You will be scared. You will experience a lot of things that interrupt how you envisioned high school. But you will be OK. More than OK. God will use this health issue for the rest of your life and impact so many lives because of it.
(Note: There are parts of my story I am vague in sharing, I don't mean to do that to cause curiosity or distract you, sweet reader. There are parts of my story I don't share because the story isn't just mine to share. There are parts of my story I don't share because they aren't your business. I mean that with love. Some things we need to hold to just those very few closest to us. Some parts of my story I don't share because it's not time to share. Some parts of my story I don't share because my vagueness is more helpful, it allows each of my readers to connect in their own way. You all know that I aim to be an authentic, vulnerable and open book here and in the Bible studies that I write. So thank you for being gracious with the vague allusions. Love you so.)
To see all the posts in this series, click the image below: