a letter to my 14-year-old self

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Dear Me with Emily Freeman

Dear Me,

I’ve been wondering—if I really could send a letter back in time to you, what is it you most need to hear?

I could tell you about the adorable curly-haired children you’d have, but you could probably guess what they’d look like (hint: just look at your baby pictures).  I could tell you that you would marry someone who could “love you like that”, that he’d be your very best friend and show you God’s love in human flesh, but knowing you, that probably wouldn’t help the wait any (especially since you’ve already met him).

13 going on 14 - August 30, 1997I could tell you that it would be so much easier for you to learn to follow a routine now, rather than still trying to learn the disciplines of early morning devotions, exercise, and a daily plan when you’re nearing thirty.  But you’d probably listen about as well as you listen to the advice your mom tries to give you.  (Just so you know, someday you’ll wonder how she did it all.)

I could tell you not to lose that ever-ready smile, because I know how much it colors the way you look at the world.  But I’m hoping someday you’ll learn not to let it be a mask to hide behind with the word “fine.”

I could tell you not to worry about what you weigh, because that man of your dreams? He’ll love you nine months pregnant and fifty pounds overweight. But I know that you’ll still be learning the definition of beauty when you’re twice your age.

I could tell you to do more listening than talking, but I’m not sure how much good it would do.  Just be careful what you say, girl; words seasoned with grace are much more palatable when you have to eat them.

If I could tell you one thing, 13 going on 14 Gretchen, it would be this.  Use grace in your relationships like you use garlic in your cooking. Apply it to your interactions with your family, your relationships with your friends, and yes, apply it to yourself.  You think you have it all figured out at almost 14.  But when you’re twice this age you’ll realize how little you know.  Give yourself grace to not know the answers.  Give others grace to not agree with you. 

the summer before I turned 14, wearing my mom's Jr. High graduation dressWear your clothes as an expression, not a statement. Grace.  Keep your purity as a hidden jewel, not a badge you wear for all to see.  Grace.  Be true to your convictions, but don’t hold others to the same standards.  Grace. 

You’ve seen God answer some prayers so very dear to your heart.  But keep believing, keep praying—those are just the beginning.  And you’re going to need grace to see some of them for the miracles they are.

In fact, don’t use grace as just a liberal seasoning, but pour it out like a sauce, so that it covers everything and fills in all the cracks.  Just like His blood.

Because He Lives,
your self at almost twenty-eight years old

P.S. Let me tell you a secret—you’re still going to need to hear this at 28 as much as you did at 14.  Perhaps even more.

{The blogosphere is full of letters to our teenage selves this week, in celebration of Emily Freeman’s new book Graceful.  I turn 28 29 next week, so thought it would be fitting to write a letter to the girl who was me half my lifetime ago — though I’ve already given her a stern word a time or twoWhat would you say if you could write a letter to yourself as a teenager?}

Edited to Add: P.P.S. I know you can’t stand math, but it does come in handy, even in your dream career as a wife, mom, and writer.  So I should have told you to try at least to learn the basic addition necessary to know how old you are in any given month, and perhaps take more of the memory supplement your mom is always talking about.   But when you can’t add and can’t remember?  There’s still grace.

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9 Comments

  1. Hi Gretchen,

    I have read and reread this letter many times. I have kind of started writing my own letter to my younger self, but never finished it. There are lots of things that I want my younger self to know. I would have saved myself so many embarrassing moments and regrets. The part about you listening to your Mom and such, I have found myself in the past few years wondering how my Mom did it with raising 4 kids, one of whom was me with my handicaps coming from a third world country. I don’t know how my Mom did it. I always said I was going to be organized when I was grown up….NOT!
    Thank you so much again for your words of wisdom.
    God Bless!
    Bethany

  2. Happy Tuesday Gretchen! I didn’t get time to stop and comment before the weekend, but I want to say thanks for this post. Partly because it’s beautiful. Partly because it sparked my own letter to my younger self. My favourite bit? “… keep believing, keep praying …” Or maybe the bit about the math. It’s not my strong point either! *Hug!*

  3. Pingback: Dear Me | YLCF
  4. This is beautiful! I took these words to heart, being only a couple years older than fourteen myself. Especially about the routine, and even more about words seasoned with grace. Those are both things I am struggling with and learning about. Thank you for the encouragement…just what I needed today.