Dear Six-Teen Year Old Me, yes the one with the cake thrown on your face,
Wow. I really don't know how you made it to here, here where I forget just how green it really is, just how crisp the air smells on this cool day. Here with this family in these mountains with this job and this hope and this future.
I wish I could just hug you, one of those big ole' make you feel at home in my bosom Southern hugs. You just really wanted to find home. You really wanted to be loved. And looking back, you were skin and bone near death starving for it.
Oh Courtney, just chill out and be a kid. Let life be simpler. Eat your cake and don't cry when a boy slams it in your face. Makeup not being perfect on your sweet night isn't really a tragedy. You will see tragedy, though.
You are driving and you think you are hot stuff. You still watch 7th Heaven every Monday night and you sing—at the top of your lungs—on those back windy roads in your Solora. You are a dreamer and your world flips if you forget to write in your journal. I have no idea what you wrote, but the breeze across your neck and pen in hand always made sense to you in a world where much didn't.
If only I could spare you the pain that is coming. You think it's bad now—but you will dig your grave and you're even going to lay down in it. I wish you never had to know that darkness, that feeling of suffocation because the dirt heaping over you is just that heavy. But there is a shovel and latter you will get out.
You just broke up with that boy, the first one you ever kissed and outside you smiled and your friends told you that you could do so much better. Fuel to the fire. He made you feel special and loved and when it stopped, you starved. It will take you years to remember how to hunger. But for the sake of righteousness, you will.
Oh and FYI, you will kiss dating goodbye. Crazy I know.
You don't know it yet, but one day soon your phone is going to ring...and it will be your dad. Yes, the one that disappeared for over a year now. The one who missed your birthday and never called at Christmas. The one that your mom told you was probably dead. He isn't. He will want to see you and you will stand strong—for awhile. Then you'll give him a chance and he will cut you deeper. But the hurt will be more then you ever imagined, for a while. You will get some distance and flip the calendar and get stitched up. It is good.
You love your friends more then life itself and you are all black and white. One day, maybe you will learn grey is a color too. You hide your Jewish heritage because you want to be one of them--you want to fit there, maybe. The years will teach you to glory in your decent from the Holy Nation, in your identity as God's chosen, a people belonging to Him. You will disobey and screw up more then your pride can handle.
Oh and please just give up the control, you freak--one day you will live with a dozen and it would be a whole lot easier if you learned now!!
All men aren't scum...I wish you could see it, to just glimpse what it coming.
He has a plan for you. You don't even know who "He" is yet, but oh little one, He knows you. And He is already at work. Oh I wish you could get it a little sooner. I wish I could help you see past your studies and your girl drama and your pride. I wish you could see the hope and future instead of the past.
This year you are going to meet you siblings. They are going to define love and you are never going to be the same. This is your first taste of home and family and stability. Let it soften you, soak here for you are safe. Your sister plays with your hair and you purr and it will be your "thing" well into adulthood.
Your appetite will change. You will learn to eat grace and drink mercy. But oh young one, you will always hate cheese.
You want people to like you--I wish you would just like yourself. You're fashioned in His image--see Him in the mirror. You get straight As and you are a tennis champ. But the works don't earn you nothin'--remember it. You live in the hospital your senior year and you yell your mom--a lot. You see things that drain the little girl right out of you and I just wish I could save you from it. You are gunna be a great mom, though.
You wasted so many lonely nights locked behind your door--I wish I could plow it down, just like the walls you built up. Even six years later, you still hide behind the door and the walls, but if you stand tip-toed you can see over them now. Yes, you always have been a bit of a learn it the hard way kinda girl.
I wish I could give you a new lens to see you mom. Love her Courtney, love the mess out of her. One day you will miss her. You are beautiful, even if you go to the prom solo. I know you couldn't believe it though--not then and maybe not now.
Eventually you will stand up again and pick it all back up because its all you knew for these six-teen years. It will be a pattern, a puzzle solved before it's started. You and food will have at it—tug of war over your life. You will learn to be still and let Him fight. You will learn to submit to the process and not worry about the product. It is a process. Hate sin.
In a couple years, you will quit on life. But in His mercy, God will spare your life and you will stop pursing death. You will taste redemption this night--and you will want more. The sun will shine across your skin and you will taste His goodness, that He chose in His grace to redeem you from the pit of darkness. He will teach you to walk in the light.
And every time you feel the sun like that, the tingles scamper up your arms and you just know that He is God. He stirs deep down as the darkness fades into a horror scene that was another life, another girl. And even this morning, you must remind yourself you are not her.
Your feet will walk the dirt of India and the mountains of Australia. You will hear the nations declare He is Lord and your life will be messy. You will want a husband and babies and you will cleave into Jesus so much more. You will have hope.
And one day the darkness won't loom so close and you will depend on the light for air. You won't ever be that perfection you measure yourself against in the back of your mind, so just give it up already. You are always a little more hungry for grace, a lot more in need of it too.
Sixteen doesn't last forever--One day, the seas will part and you will sing a new song, so hold fast!
Thankful for Emily over at Chatting the Sky and her new book!