Sunday, September 18, 2016

An Open Letter to Teen Girls Starting School

I work with the girls in our youth group at church, and I recently had a few minutes to share a little "back to school" message with them. It was nowhere near enough time to share everything in my heart--not to mention, I'm not so great at talking. And so I had to write this letter.

Hi there,

So you're back to school now. I know I might be that annoying adult who's always asking you about your classes and stuff, but the truth is, I really want to know. I see your attention drift away sometimes, and I wonder if you're going to that place in the back of your mind where everything happening at school is on constant replay. It seems like you've got so much on your mind now--homework, tests, friends, used-to-be friends, bullies, that boy you like, sports, clubs, classes, teachers...even college. You seem to know you'll never be just a kid again. 

How are you really doing? Are you having the time of your life? Are you stressed? Do you want to give up sometimes? All of the above? I've tried so hard to think if there's anything I can do for you--anything I can say so that you never doubt how loved you are and how much this is all going to be worth it.

But if there's one thing I wish you could always remember, it's this: the best is yet to come. When you've just had the worst day of your life, and it feels like everyone is against you, the best is yet to come.  When you're on top of the world and you feel like life can't get any better, still remember: the best is yet to come. Yes, hard times will come, and the hardest times in your life are probably still ahead of you too, but your dreams haven't even begun to come true yet. And they never will on a high school stage or field or at prom, because if your dreams come true in high school, you're probably not dreaming big enough.

You have the potential to be absolutely amazing, but it has nothing to do with how you look in selfies or how many likes you get. Everybody wants to feel cool and interesting and unique, but the goodness that God put inside of you is what you should treasure more than anything or anyone's attention. And whenever you're not feeling very confident about who you are, just remember that it doesn't mean you should try being like someone else. Look inside and find the very best parts of you, and let that shine. Always look for the light--even better, be the light. 

Remember that your value is never determined by another person, especially not a boy. No matter how awesome he is, even if he helps bring out the very best in you--and he'd better--he'll never be more amazing than the relationship you can have with God. And one day when you're married, God will still be more important than your husband. So always put your trust in Him first--and don't forget, He already loves you more than any man ever could. 

Never be ashamed of the good choices you make, even when other people don't understand. It doesn't mean they're bad people either, or that they can't be happy. But it does mean that you're strong enough and brave enough to be true to yourself and to God--even it means standing alone--and that you know it will be worth it. Don't ever doubt that--the best is yet to come. 

The best is yet to come, and best-ever you is yet to be. You are more beautiful and amazing now than you know, but you will be even more with every step you take with God. Be your very best self, and even if that's not enough for someone else, let that be enough for you. When you're afraid or doubt yourself, let your faith be bigger than your fears. When things get hard, let your hope be even stronger. Go after your dreams, but be patient--the best is yet to come. And it's even better than you can imagine. 

When other people let you down, remember God always keeps His promises. The best is yet to come. I remember my Mom and Dad telling me this more times than I can count, and you know what, they were right. For years, I was bullied and left out at school, and it felt like it would never end. I've been through some pretty painful times as an adult, too, but I see now that it's made me a stronger and more compassionate person. Other than that, how other people treated me didn't factor in to the person I became. Because nobody else gets to decide what kind of person you'll be--good or bad; YOU do. 

So don't be afraid of what people think about you--they don't have to think you're pretty or fun or smart to make it true. Only YOU have to believe it. Don't be afraid that you're missing out when you see other people smiling and having fun, or when you decide something else is more important than what they have to offer. Don't be afraid to say no to your friends or to that boy you really like when you don't want to take things that far. What you're giving up is nothing compared to what's ahead of you--the best is yet to come. 

The best is yet to come, and you get to decide now if it's going to be worth it to you. Don't give up--the best is yet to come. Work hard in school and go to college--the best is yet to come. Learn every day and do your best--the best is yet to come. Be a friend to everyone no matter how they treat you--the best is yet to come. Spend your time and money on what matters most--the best is yet to come. Have fun and be happy now, but always "reaching forth" to what's ahead of you (Philippians 3:13)--the best is yet to come. You don't need acceptance and attention to be happy; you just need the grace and confidence to keep moving forward. And if you don't trust me, trust Him. The best is yet to come.