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Monday, April 28, 2014

.Dear Teenage Girl.

I have been noticing you a lot. Perhaps it is because I am in the trenches of raising a teenage boy, and he notices you, too. Perhaps it is because, in the distant future, he will most likely marry one of you. It might seem odd that I am writing a letter to teenage girls, when I am raising a teenage boy, but it's you that I know. (I still have not figured him out!) The real truth is, I remember what seems like yesterday, when I was you. So this letter is for you, and what I wish had been said to me. My daughter is only eight right now, but someday she will be a teenage girl, and this is what I will say.

Girly, this letter is for you, because this world will tell you a lot of things that will beat you down and discourage you - this world will hurt you, but what I need to tell you, sweet girl, is that you are so special.

Your worth is not wrapped up in your performance in school, on the athletic field, the stage, your role as a daughter, or in what other girls think about you. Your worth has nothing to do with whether or not you can get a boy to like you, or even if you have a boyfriend before your highschool graduation. 10 years from now none of that will even matter - and may not be remembered. Your worth does not come from how many likes you get on that instagram photo or followers you gained - there will always be someone out there with more likes and more followers, and trust me, they are not happier or better because of it. Your worth is entirely tied up in Jesus, who found you so valuable that He spent His entire self to get to you. You are an image-bearer of God, and that makes you so incredibly beautiful and priceless- regardless of whether or not you are able to keep up with the trendy styles that she is wearing.

There are always mean girls. And I would be lieing to you, if I told you that meanness magically disappears from your life when you turn 20.  I wish this was not true, and the sad reality is that a lot of times, mean girls grow up into mean women. If only, we could all grow up and leave the meanness behind.  But you don't have to be one of them. Kindness is so beautiful, and so needed in this world - in your school. The most beautiful, attractive girls are the ones who look for the kids that are sad, are lost, that don't fit in, and shower kindness over them. Try it. Learn to put other people first and to look for those people that are just aching for your kindness. Because kindness matters more than you can imagine. People will forget how you look, what you did to be cool, how many goals you scored, how popular you are, how many twitter followers you have, what you wore, but one thing that is hard to forget is how you made them feel. Every single person you meet in this life shares something in common - infinite worth. They matter. When they forget that truth, remind them with your kindness. Oh, and those mean girls, the ones that pretend to be your friend, but trash you behind your back, yeah, be kind to them, too. But girl, hold your head up high and move on, don't let their meanness drag you down, she is the one who is missing out on beautiful, funny, quirky, you. Be kind but walk on. Always be kind.

Being pretty and skinny is not worth losing yourself for. I know all of the hours you have lost staring into the mirror wishing the reflection was something different. I know how you look at her and envy her hair, her eyes, her figure. I know the love/hate relationship you have with food, and how you think that if you could just change this one part of you, then everything would be perfect. But, Honey, it's a big, fat lie. It will take the rest of your life to fight off that lie, but start now. The desire to be someone other than exactly who you were created to be will rob you of life. Being skinny and pretty won't give you security or safety, it won't buy your friends or happiness. Getting into that tiny jean size will not automatically make your life meaningful. Take care of yourself, be healthy and happy, wear that make-up and those cute shoes, but don't lose yourself in the process. Because right now, in this moment, you are so beautiful and so much more than a number on a scale, or an image in the mirror.

You are going to do great things, and your future is bright and beautiful, but don't lose out on the present by longing for the future. Sure big things are ahead - college, marriage, adult freedom - but you will have the rest of your life for that, and you only get one shot to be a kid.  Don't grow up too fast. It is okay to be young and silly and to embrace this time in your life. There will be time for boyfriends and love and adult decisions, but it doesn't have to be now. You cannot ever get back now - don't squander it. Don't wish you were older. You're not an adult yet, and that is okay! So laugh and dance and play, and live in this amazing time between childhood and adulthood - it's magical if you embrace it for what it is. Before you know it, you will be in your thirties, married with children, and this moment will only be a distant memory. Being a teenage girl is tough, I know I just said it was magical, and it is, and can be, but it can also be really, really hard. It gets better.Your problems are real and valid, and they feel so consuming sometimes, but know that they are preparing you for what is ahead. This won't last forever - I promise. Don't wish these years away, though, you could miss out on something breathtakingly beautiful in the journey.

Your parents love you - more than anybody else in this world loves you right now. They are for you. But here is a secret - raising a teenager is tough and being a teenager is tough. Give them grace and hopefully they give you grace as well. You will both make mistakes, and there is always room to do better. Do you want to know another secret? They were teenagers once, too, so they really do know a little bit about you and your struggles. You are in this special place, where you are able to stretch your wings, while still being tucked into the safety and security of your parents. So test those wings, but trust your parents as well, they've been where you are. Their eyes see what you cannot yet see, so let them. There is no guarantee that your teenage friendships will last a lifetime, but your family will. I don't look back at my teenage years and wish that I had listened more to my friends, instead I wish I had listened more to my parents. They are the ones who wanted the best for me and were looking out for me in big ways. The same is probably true of your parents. Let them inside your world, you might be surprised at what they have to offer you - don't miss out on that gift. You can't get this time back with them - ever.

Sweet girl, you are a child of God. There is no boyfriend, bad haircut, cute jeans, or mean girl that can ever take that away from you. Embrace these teenage years, and use this time to allow your heart to fall in love with Jesus, let Him consume your heart right now - not that cute boy, or new app., or meaningless clique. He is the only man guaranteed to still be by your side when you leave the teenage years behind. Be kind to yourself - heap on the grace and embrace the journey. Don't waste too much time thinking about what that silly boy thinks of you or give his words too much weight. Sweetie, you don't need validation from a boy. Give him time and a few years - he is on his own journey, and has a lot of growing up to do before he will be ready to selflessly invest in you. Guard your heart - it's worth guarding - be choosey with who you allow to captivate it.  Let go of the comparisons, and just be the girl God made you to be - she is beautiful - this world needs you. Nobody else can replace you. Hang in there, sweet girl, it is all going to be gloriously okay. You are amazing!

With love and a big hug from a former teenage girl.

[What seems so important and trendy right now will quickly fade. Ahem - the corduroy overalls from my junior year in highschool.]


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