It will be 2020 in a few weeks. The start of a new decade, and the end of one. Naturally, I’m feeling emotional and reflective.
This past decade has been trying, and beautiful. It has changed me in ways I never could have imagined. I have learned lessons I never thought I would learn so young, and I have made mistakes I am sure I will make again.
Facebook’s “memory” feature makes it easy to look back on years passed. Recently, I’ve been seeing what Christie from a decade ago was posting and it has been pulling me back to not only what she was feeling at the time, but who she was and who she wanted to become. This feature on Facebook showed me a photo from my junior year of high school and it launched me back to a moment in time where I so badly wish I could talk to 16-year-old Christie.
If I could grab this little girl and say anything to her, this would be it:
Hold on. I know you’re feeling lost, unwanted, confused, and timid. I know your faith in the Lord is wavering and I know you have a battle ahead. I know that boy doesn’t want your heart, and I know someone else wanted something you weren’t willing to give to him. I know what has been taken from you; but I also know what will be given to you. I know you are hurting and I know you feel like nothing could ever be as bad as it is at this moment; and I know sometimes it will be worse. But honey, it will also be so much better. It wasn’t your fault. So hold on.
I know in this photo you’re rocking your blue eyeliner and red-tipped acrylics with your crazy curls as you watch your brother’s band play before a Cardinals game; but I also know who you are watching across the crowd. I know how your heart aches, and I know how well you hide it (which is a skill you will happily lose in the coming years as you grow to realize being vulnerable is the only way to heal). You feel things so deeply and at times you feel as if you are drowning in emotions you can’t yet understand or control. But he is not the one, love. He has his “one.” And one day you will find yours. I know how you feel sad and unwanted and this will become a hard lesson for you. Hold on. You will soon understand another person’s view of you does not diminish your worth or what you deserve. Your stubborness and loyalty will persuade you to fight for the person you want; but soon you will learn when it’s time to walk away and find better.
I know at this point in time you are fighting with your best friend who is sitting a few people down from you and you have no idea what happened to cause this fight; I know you won’t talk for several months and you’ll feel as if you’ve lost a part of you and it’s hard to handle because you feel like you’ve already lost so much. I know how much you need her, and during these months you will feel true disconnect and loneliness. But don’t worry, you two reconcile very soon. You’re even in her wedding 8 years later, and she’s still giving you the only piece of advice you need to hear in the most difficult of circumstances. You need to know while you’re holding on, people are also holding you. I know you forget sometimes, and may even take for granted, the fact that your family loves you. And through all of your trials, they will be the one constant. Love them. Trust them. Hold them close.
I know your leg hurts and you feel like no one could understand so you don’t speak of the agony. I know how you get out of breath walking up the stairs to class because of the pain. I know sometimes you ask to go to the bathroom just so you can sit on the ground and take your sweatpants off in order to give your swollen leg some relief; and I know in those moments you cry the tears you so desperately try to hide from the rest of the world. I know you had to give up your dream of being an all-star athlete and none of it was your fault. I know you feel uncomfortable in a body you no longer have control over and will spend the coming years fighting to live a healthy and normal life. But hold on. Those stairs you’re walking up are leading you to your media design and creative writing classes, your AP art class, and a photography class which will open your eyes. Soon, you’ll find your calling is not on the soccer field, but in a world you get to create all your own. And love, it’s such a beautiful world.
I know you’re mad at God and you are about to close your heart to Him for the next several years. You’re heartbroken He could let these things happen to you; and while you know some people go through much worse, you’re still going through this. And it hurts. You feel your body breaking, your heart breaking, and your spirit breaking. I know you’re going to shut yourself off. I know who you’re about to shut out and who you are about to let in. I know what you are going to forgive and tolerate from those around you in a deserpate attempt to feel connection and it will become an empathetic habit many people will take advantage of; and it will hurt. But hold on. Your empathetic nature will also breed warmth, compassion, and understanding and will bring people into your life who are desperate for someone like you, and they will love you unconditionally. Eventually, it will bring you right back to the Lord. Because you’ll realize those empathetic tendencies you have are from God; and only through Him can you be confident and at peace knowing you’ll always be protected from those who want to take it from you. He’s got you; and He’s got people for you. You’ve found some of them, but a few of them won’t show up for several more years and I know you’re longing for a connection you cannot explain. Just hold on. Your tribe is coming for you; they just need to face their own battles first. When they do come into your life, the timing will be right and they will be warriors.
I know who you dream of becoming. Someone who is whole on her own and who is responsible for her own happiness; someone who is confident in her individual beauty and someone who regains control of her own body; someone who has the strength to help others fight their battles without it taking anything away from your own peace. I know it hurts to walk now, and honestly, it always will. But hold on. Soon… you’ll run. You’ll run to those who fulfill you, and you’ll run from those who you know aren’t for you. You’ll run in search for the free, strong, happy, grace-filled and faithfully loving woman you’ve always dreamed of being.
And girl, you’ll find her.