To my teenage self:
Let's be real here and dive right into it all. Stop worrying so much about being a million cup sizes smaller than every other girl in the universe, trust me, it's much easier to accept it now. Either way, empire waist and skinny jeans will come into style soon enough so you'll just have to shine on for a little longer. And while we're on the topic, stop loathing your twin sister for maturing faster than you and for having all the boyfriends. Trust me, you'll talk about it one day and laugh about how you both wanted what the other had.
In the words of Billy Joel, slow down you crazy child! Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while. Yes, you love to laugh and cry and run all over the place being goofy, but slow down, girl! Take some time to really listen to the people around you. You love to spin and write and recite beautiful lines from books like "I feel infinite" and you love bridging that gap between the christian goodie goodies and the witty, brilliant atheists [why they like you, I am still puzzled by this]. But know this: there is more to life than tapping into the best music with obscure names. There is more to life than buying all the name brand clothes, or being glued to your Myspace page (Lord knows that). There is more to life than making fun of the slutty girls with your best friend. Don't be so sure you know the depth of yourself and they don't just because you go to church and they are layered with rumors of what they did behind the auditorium. I know you don't understand this right now, but your heart will break for them one day. And you'll see that their fear and insecurity is not so far from your own.
You'll realize later on that you were sometimes called the "young life princess" which still makes me grit my teeth. I know it's scary, but will you go up to the gothic kids that hang out by the corner picnic tables? What about the cheerleaders with the shiny straight hair? Will you invite them to Young Life so you can understand it's not just for you and your clique that you love so much? After you graduate, you'll be shocked to hear that the most beautiful girl in the whole school mentioned on a cheer leading bus that she wished she had been invited, just once, to Young Life. It will drive you in your ministry for years to come to invite those kids that you never thought would want to hear the gospel in a million years.
I know you're angry with the church for the adultery your pastor committed - and you don't know this now, but it will harbor bitterness in your heart toward the church, but will you stop being fake and giving in to being "the face of youth" in that place? Be consistent in your love for people there and be aware that everyone in every church is faced with the temptation to pretend like they "have it all together." But we're all sinners. Let the grace that He lived a perfect life so that we didn't have to completely penetrate your heart and your time in that church. Speak up the next time the old elders bicker about what color the trash cans should be; you have a real voice - use it. Don't be afraid to shake things up in that place, and when you write a poem that is published in the bulletin about baby Jesus on Christmas day, don't let someone on session change the words "his crying eyes lay still" to "his gleaming eyes lay still" just because they can't picture baby Jesus crying like a real baby. Tell them that's stupid, and demand that they print it the way it should be.
Take some time to communicate with family. Your parents have some crazy stories about their childhood that you will love to hear one day. Cherish being a kid with your best friend Andrea. Right now you're probably dancing around your bedroom with her listening to a Judy Collins record, but one day you'll be standing in a kitchen hugging the man who proposed to her and you'll have snot and tears all over his t-shirt. He'll be her best friend, but you'll still be like sisters. Your boy hating, feminist rant will end when you meet a tall awkward boy around a bonfire with the best looking nose you've ever seen. You'll be a dork and tell him it's the best looking nose you've ever seen and it will come out like word vomit. That same night, his sister will call to tell him that she is engaged, and you'll go to that wedding almost a year later and then you'll marry that boy 3 years after that.
There is so much more to life than what you are dreaming up in your head. Life isn't all about the romantic notions you think they are. You won't become a famous book editor and believe it or not, one day you will not be able to stand a messy room. I know, I know... it doesn't seem possible. Your sophomore year of college you will learn more about sinfulness than you could ever understand right now, and it will press in all around you. You'll see those dark times, but God will prove himself to be your light. You'll argue with your boyfriend-now-husband about your now reformed faith but it will mold your faith into a more enriched understanding of your need for a Savior. You'll join a church in college that will absolutely rebuild a godly perspective of what the church body should be like, and you'll see how God uses his church - peeling away your misconceptions and causing you to look toward His kingdom. Don't live your life in fear. I know there are times when everyone sees your fun and outgoing persona but not you crying out in fear and anger. You'll come to see that He is a great Protector, and triumphing over fear will be a daily battle but one that you do not fight alone.
Promise me one more thing. Keep climbing out on that roof and meeting with God. Keep asking him the hard questions, and keep learning about His character. Don't let life get so busy that you stop meeting with him on that roof overlooking the golf course. Those times will be some of the dearest moments in your life, when you get to enjoy that new, sweet time with the Creator. Laugh with him, and open up your heart to the people around you.
Oh, and keep writing everything down - on napkins, diaries, whatever. You'll love reading it all later.
P.S. You were crazy then....
...But you never really grew out of that one.
In the meantime, write a letter like this to yourself, and join me at Chatting at the Sky this Friday, September 14 to link up!
Also, watch this video and learn more about her book: