One of my best friends has a daughter who is turning 15 next week.
They aren’t exactly the real ‘gifty’ type, so I decided to write her a long, dishy letter full of advice.
How old of me, I know. Just what every fifteen year old wants. More Advice.
But she’s going to get it, nonetheless.
I remember the week before I was fifteen so well, it surprises me. There’s a lot about being a younger teen that I *don’t* particularly remember all that well, (whether it’s by design or honest-to-goodness amnesia has yet to be determined) but I remember that week. It was bleak and gray, in the typical November-in-Ohio style, with nearly naked trees and empty fields. I was very, very new to the whole ‘Christian Thing’. I had just the year before decided that I would try to march along the straight and narrow and had exchanged all my rock-star punkishness for a long dress, long hair and record player. I was awkward and overweight, and had very little idea how to go about life itself- let alone life as a Believer.
We had just started going to a new church and we invited a bunch of the people from the congregation over for a birthday dinner. At the dinner (which I don’t remember) I passed around a notebook and asked people to write down their best advice, recipe, favorite chant and the like for me to keep and be the wiser for.
This letter to my friend’s daughter is my chance to do what those dear folk did for me and attempt to plant some sort of good in the upturned and fertile life that is just about to celebrate its fifteenth year.
1) Don’t ever, EVER be afraid to trust God FOR everything, IN everything, no matter what. No Matter What. Life has a way of being full of failings and fallings and bumblings around- but we serve a God who is unfailing, unchanging, forever and always. Trust that the God you have committed yourself to is unswerving in His desire to see Good come to you from every thing- even if you can’t tell it at the time. Heart and flesh fail, but our God never does. That is such a comfort, such a Rock to cling to. Cling hard and fast.
2) Don’t run away from pain and sorrow. It’s hard not to when you’re programed to dislike suffering *intensely*, but think of it as your only chance. Once you die- you’re done. There’s no more pain, no more sorrow, no more suffering, want, loss or need. This is your chance to watch God turn evil into good, so watch it. Quiet your soul and stand in front of the storm. Let the winds howl, let the rains fall, don’t run away. Don’t let disappointment harden you, don’t let upset embitter you, don’t let pain corrode your soul. Suffering has its place, its purpose and if you are one of God’s own- that purpose is for your good. Let suffering break what it was meant to, let it cleanse and burn and then let yourself dip deep into the healing balm of the love of your Savior.
3) The truth hurts. Forgiveness kills. Justice stands alone and forgotten. Righteousness is unpopular, but, BUT- His love is better than life itself, and He gives it so freely.
4) You will never regret being ‘uncool’ as much as you will regret buckling under peer pressure. The way of the Lord is strength to the upright. Be strong in Him.
5) I don’t care who says what- keeping yourself for your husband is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of raw nerve and real guts to wait. Trust me. It’s more than a promise ring, or a t-shirt logo, or something cute to say at church. It takes guts. But it’s worth it. Think of the gift you’re going to give one very happy, very lucky young man someday- and you’re the *only* one who can give it to him. Happy thought indeed.
6) It’s OK to cry when you’re hurt. This took me too, too long to learn, and I wish I believed it sooner, so I’m telling you; It’s OK to cry. The moments when you cry out to God could be the most important and powerful times of your life. On the other hand, it’s OK to laugh too. It’s OK to laugh hard, it’s beautiful and wonderful and healing. On yet another hand (how many hands do we have to spare?) it’s also OK to be quiet. Don’t let people make you feel funny for being thoughtful and sober. Just be moderate. Not a gigglepuss, drama queen sob story or a recluse- just be…. well…. You. That’s totally OK.
7) In the end- Christ and Him crucified, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about who wears a skirt, who wears a headcovering, who goes to what church. It’s about a Savior who died for a dying world and then offers that love and forgiveness freely and unashamedly. His example is what we follow, in the end. Don’t be afraid to follow your Savior. Don’t be afraid to love people. Don’t be afraid to be different- just keep looking at Him and walk on!
8 ) The world isn’t *really* going to end. Really. I know everyone says that when your heart has broken, and it seems to be a proverb which should be eternally banished to the back wall of a Hallmark store, but it’s true. You might wake up the next day feeling betrayed by the sun which rose to smile on the wretched world, but hold on to the thought that tomorrow *will* come, and it *will* get better. It’s true. I know.
9) Use your youth. I mean, really use it. Use it up. All of it. Don’t get old. God gave young people a ridiculous amount of spirit, strength and elasticity- for a reason, and that reason is not for college dorm parties. You won’t regret the hours spent using your enthusiasm to make your corner of the world a little sunnier. Don’t waste it, please. You will regret that.
10) Go ahead and plan, but the best thing you can do for your future is to develop a sense of adventure, a pliant spirit, a willing hand, a bright smile and a whole awful lot of humor. Thankfulness will never get you in wrong, cleaning toilets isn’t the worst thing in the world, if you fall down- it really is just a matter of getting back up and taking the next step, overcoming is FUN, believe in True Love, and of course, always wear clean underwear cuz you just never know….