To Myself at Age Thirteen (Part One)

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Dear Tessa,

I am you, at nearly nineteen. I have been thinking of you lately– which means I’ve been remembering what it was like to be thirteen. I know those numbers don’t seem very far apart, but trust me, a lot can happen in just ONE year, let alone six. But, again, I’ve been thinking of you. I know many of the things in your heart and your head right now (but still not all of them; you’re a wonderfully complex person), and from where I am I can see them better. I know that a lot of the seemingly small things will impact you intensely, and that a few of those big things aren’t really that big. But sometimes, they are. Sometimes you will just know. You’re a discerning person, too.

I wanted to write this to you because life has become a lot different than you thought it would. A lot of things you didn’t even dream would come true actually ARE, so be excited about that! Jesus believes in your dreams! But… some things don’t look quite as you imagined. And that’s okay. I just want to make sure you dearly treasure what you have right now.

One thing that you don’t expect right now is who one of your dearest friends is going to be, someone you will have a sweet affection for. I’ll leave it a surprise, but here’s a hint: love your family. I know you have a heart that wants to do great things, but you don’t have to go anywhere for that. You can do it right at home. In a few years, Jesus will say the same thing. Try listening right away. And also remember that a loving relationship with compromise is better than a bitter one with a few “won” arguments. Having the last say in an argument doesn’t even feel good. Love your family.

Don’t believe for a second that you are overweight. I’ve looked at pictures and seen how big of a lie that is!

taken September 2008You’re a daydreamer, and many of your daydreams are sweet and beautiful. But, Tessa– you don’t need them. Enjoy them now, because someday you’ll see what they really are: your way of trying to fill a void. And it won’t work. The best way to romance your husband right now is to give him exclusive rights to being the man of your dreams. You don’t have to imagine one, he’s coming! I say this still not knowing who he is, but let me tell you: boys are pretty pointless until you’re older. Really, it’s true! The boys you’ll be interested in soon are silly compared to the young men you’ll know later. I mean, these young men are still silly, but in a good way. And they’re kind and respectful and more wise than those boys. Set high standards! Oh, one more thing: in about two years, you’ll see an amazingly handsome man and not be able to forget it for a long time. Please listen to me when I say you don’t have to be interested in him just because he’s so much like your mind picture. Just enjoy what comes.

This is going to be a little hard to hear, but… I know you have secrets. I can’t make you stop from where I am now, but I can tell you: it ends. It does. Tessa, you don’t need it. What you feel is normal, but you’re reacting differently than you should. Let go. Consciously saying yes to temptation is saying yes to the enemy. You are being attacked, and you need to fight back with prayer! Someday you’ll be free, with no need for shame. You are pure, Tessa, you don’t need to clean yourself up to be loved. He already loves you, and He’ll tell you very soon.

You should paint and write more. You love it, and you won’t always have a lot of time for it, but right now you do! Go, go, go! Do it while you’re passionate, or it won’t be as good! Especially with songs. I don’t have to tell you to sing all the time; I know you always do. It’s part of you. You have great taste in music, by the way. Here’s a helpful piece of information: your favorite genre is defined as “folksy.” It took forever to realize that!

In a few years, you’ll make a friend. She will become your treasure, but she’ll break your heart, too. But, Tessa, it’s worth it. This girl needs to be loved, and you can do it. I wish I could change what you’ll do to her, but I know I can’t. I wish you could actually hear this letter and I could stop you from making such a mistake. Tessa– she falls deeply into sin. And you will condemn her and try forcing change onto her. It will become your biggest regret, and when she lies to you about nearly everything and moves away and starts following the enemy, you won’t feel that you did all you could; you will feel that you drove her there with your condemnation. You’re going to learn a lot about her struggle and grow a burden for those caught in it, but that’s the only fruit I can see, at least right now. If I knew this letter could change things? I would tell you to make yourself clear, but just once. Don’t tell her over and over, because she’ll already know what you think, and don’t try fixing her. Love her, love her, love her, love her. Please. That’s all you have to do. That’s all you CAN do.

Treasure your karate family. Talk to them more and don’t feel inferior to them, because they really do love you. Focus on them, not your belt color. Black belt will come with time, but the time spent with your friends cannot be made up.

Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but I want to let you know that someday you’ll be free from irrational fears. You will be within two feet of your greatest fear and you will feel nothing, instead Jesus will be using you to fight it! It’s going to be incredible. You don’t have to be afraid. He’s on your side.

Oh, at the Brandon Heath concert (you don’t know who he is yet, but you will!)– stay for the meet-and-greet! Mom will not object, she’s sad we missed it, too! On a related note, concerts are fun. You’ll get to go to one soon!

[The letter was so long that I needed to split it up! Now go read Part Two!]

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