I’m proud of you.
Maybe that’s how I should begin this, because there are other days, other years, when this letter would have started off much differently.
All you want right now is to be beautiful. That’s the bottom line. Which is shallow, but true. You wake up and look in the mirror, all the while begging God to make you half as pretty as your older sister. That would be sufficient, you tell Him. You ask your mom to please please please get you contacts so you can finally throw away your glasses. You explain to her if you have contacts nobody will notice the giant braces that are taking over the entirety of your mouth. The braces come off eventually. It’ll be worth it, I promise.
You’re worried about a lot of things right now.
All your life people have told you what a good girl you are, and you secretly wish you could be anything but. You feel there is a mountain of expectations upon you, and let’s be honest with one another for a moment, you’ve placed most of these expectations on yourself. I want you to know there will be grace when you screw up. Grace and consequences. But mostly grace.
You stare at the girls in your school. You find something in all of them that you wish was yours — a flatter stomach, larger eyes, Abercrombie and Fitch clothes (but don’t waste your time wishing for these; they go out of style real quick), a boyfriend, the lead part in the school play, the ability to do anything athletic. You spend your days chasing an illusion: that if you do more, act more, have more, you’ll finally be enough.
I know it’s hard to believe right now, and in a few years it probably won’t be any easier, but you are enough right as you are. You see, you think you’re in charge of your life. You think beauty is the most important thing, and that a boyfriend will fill your innermost parts. The truth is, you’re not in charge. You don’t have control over anything.
You’ll go to Africa after you graduate. You’ll come home armed with notebooks and stories, and you’ll want to tell all the people you pass by that you are going to be a writer. A few years later, your mom will get cancer. It will be a long, hard journey, but God will heal her and you’ll see Jesus in ways you never thought you could see.
You have an identity.
You don’t know what that is yet, and I understand. It’s still being formed and shifted into place. But you have an identity, one that was created even before you. Christ knew that you would wake up and look into the mirror, begging to be beautiful. He knew you’d go to Rwanda, and that your mom would have cancer, and that you’d lay awake at night dreaming of writing a book. He knew the expectations that weighed and wilted you down.
He knows you. He knows you now, He knew you before, He’ll know you next year, and all the years after that. Root your identity in Him. Plant your worth in who He is, and who He says you are.
You’re a good kid. Believe your dad when he tells you that. Love people hard, write down your stories, and would you quit thinking about your weight? That’s a waste of time.
Keep looking for Jesus in everything you see. He loves you madly, you know. You’ll realize this someday.