Dear Me in 1983,
I'm sure that receiving a letter from me is the last thing you expected, huh? I can practically read your mind. Though I must seem impossibly old and out-of-date, considering that you are fifteen and a freshman in high school, here's the deal. I see you struggling with so many things right now - things like love, friendships, and your purpose in life. If I had it my way I'd fix it all and pave the way smooth and straight for you. Unfortunately, life doesn't work like that and, in the long run, you'll be happy that it doesn't. You'll find your own way in time, though you'll grow mighty impatient in the process.
You've only been out of the back brace for a few months now, but you still haven't become accustomed to the fact that it's not tightly fastened around your torso, holding your spine securely in place. The many months spent wearing it and feeling curious eyes upon you as you walked the school halls in dresses two sizes larger (to accommodate the brace) still plague you. I know it seems as though you're the square peg trying desperately to fit into a round hole, but the reality is that all of your friends are also square pegs in disguise and - if the truth be known - there are no round holes.
Life is the great equalizer. But that's another truth that you won't learn for some years. In the meantime, treasure your friends, even when it feels like they are loving you one day and whispering behind your back the next. Girls are funny like that, but they truly mean no harm. These same girls will one day grow up with very real needs and you will be one of the ones they turn to to help them pray. How're you going to pray for them if you allow bitterness and fear to creep in now?
You are a true romantic at heart, with a vivid imagination and a passion for something deep from life. Right now you think that finding love will be much like your daydreams and that this passion is meant to be spent on this elusive special person. I wish I had the words to gently tell you that real life love and passion are quite different than what you are finding on the pages of the novels we both love so much. They are no less real, or exciting, or breath-takingly terrifying - just...different.
Right now you feel like the traditional ugly duckling and you are sure that no boy, let alone any man, will ever want you for his own. But baby, this is just not true. I want to tell you to be patient, but I know you will not be. You'll make decisions because you feel like there just aren't enough choices. You'll feel like Life is going to just zoom right on by you and you'll be left behind and alone, so you will leap before looking a few times. It will hurt, I hate to say it, but you will survive and you will learn that Life is much bigger than you give it credit for. You will be a grown woman with babies of your own when you finally realize this, but that's okay. It is during these years that God becomes vibrantly real to you and you will be a woman forever changed.
You WILL find great love and great passion, but it will come in a way you never expected. This love will fulfill you and grow you, both, as a woman and as a human being. Your life will be better for having been touched by this love and, in turn, the love you give in response will be a blessing as well. You will learn that love is a multi-dimensional thing and that, when left in God's hands, it will continue to grow and thrive and excite and endure. Nothing can stop it, nothing can alter it. It just is. You already know that you have a heart that is meant to care and to shelter and to give. Protect that heart and just rest in the knowledge that - in good time, GOD's time - your heart will find it's permanent home. Again, it won't necessarily be like you are expecting. It'll be much better. I promise.
I know you envision yourself one day cuddling a daughter, but - guess what? You'll become a mother to two little boys. Even though you'll have to forego the hair bows, the Martha Miniatures, and the baby dolls, you will find endless delight and joy in these two blond-headed wonders. They will try you to no end at times, that much is for sure, but being their mom will be the best thing you will ever do. They will grow up SO fast. Do your best to treasure each moment, each milestone. Before you know it, they will be leaving home for college and you will have to release them, praying and trusting that they'll always remember some basic truths you've endeavored to instill in them. Truths that you, yourself, have yet to discover.
You know how you write in your diary each night? How many diaries have you filled up in your fifteen years, anyway? A lot, I know that! There will be a good many years when you give up writing down your thoughts, your hopes, and your dreams. Life will become tough and complicated and keeping a daily or weekly record of it all will be the last thing on your agenda. But then one day you'll begin to write again. And this time you won't stop. Journal entries will turn into essays and essays will turn into articles that you'll eventually - hesitantly - submit for publication. After a few of them make it into print, you'll grow brave enough to tackle the stories that have always lived inside of you. Characters like Grandma Hogan, Grace, Jackson, and Ella and Luke will come to life on the computer screen in front of you. They will bless you as you pour yourself into making their stories into books for others to read and to share. It will be your hope that these stories will encourage and uplift, that they will point others to truths that God shows you while you spend so many solitary hours in writing.
You'll one day be living your dream. But it will be for real, and it will be yours. Your future is bright and beautiful. The tough times will soften you. The scary times will bolster you. The loving times will deepen you. What you will eventually embrace is that you are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14 will become YOUR verse. If I could tell you anything right now, it would be to trust God. Laugh, love, and live your life. It's really that simple. Everything else has a way of working itself out. You are going to be fine. No, wait. You are going to be more than fine.
Love and prayers,
Your 2007 Self