Monday, June 25, 2012
Dear 18-year-old Sarah.
Dear 18-year-old Sarah,
Congratulations! You have officially graduated high school and determined that unlike almost everyone you know, you still have no idea what you want to do with your life. And you know what? That's okay.
In the fall, you're going to embark on a 3-month adventure where you will sing and dance, make wonderful friends, spend way too many hours on a bus, travel overseas, and finally be able to reflect on these four crazy years you just completed called "high school."
You're going to learn a lot about yourself during those three months. You're going to learn that you don't need to maintain your faith because you have to be perfect -- because you don't. You're going to learn that this faith thing that you've been doing your entire life for other people was never supposed to be about other people, was never supposed to be about perfection, was never supposed to be about an image or an identity. It was -- and is -- supposed to be about you and a wonderful Savior who loves you more than anything in the world, even if your best friend did tell you that you were vain, selfish, and no one would ever want to be your friend. Those wounds are going to take a long time to heal, but you'll get there one day -- I promise.
After three months away, you won't quite know what to do. You'll have changed a lot, but everyone you come back to will have no concept of your change. They're going to try to fit you back into the same box you were in when you left. Don't let them. Show them the change, because it's good.
You're going to spend the next nine months learning how the new you, the non-perfect you (who's okay with being non-perfect) functions in the real world, in the non-tour world. It's going to be hard, but it's going to be good and in nine months you're going to head off to college and begin a whole new chapter of your life.
You're going to love your time at CNU. You're going to make some amazing friends and have some ridiculous stories that you'll be telling for years to come.
Don't procrastinate on that 12-15 page research paper. Even though it'll make a great story later, getting only 7 hours of sleep in a 71 hour period is not going to be fun. You're going to break down and cry multiple times. But it will be an incredible reminder to you that you can only accomplish things through the strength of your Heavenly Father.
Cherish the friendships you have. Love the people you're with and grow as much as you can. You'll never have another experience like this and when it's done you're going to miss it so very much.
When that boy asks you to hang out one on one...say no. It's going to cause you a lot of pain and heartache that you could easily avoid.
But actually...say yes. You're going to go through some confusing months. You're going to give him your first kiss and later be furious with yourself that you did. You're going to go through months of guilt and frustration and anger and shame. And later, he's going to smash your heart on the ground and you're not going to understand why or how it happened. You're going to feel so broken that you don't think you'll be able to ever put yourself back together again.
But then you'll remember what your Heavenly Father showed you just a few months prior. That you're not perfect, but you don't have to be, and your worth and identity rests in Him alone, not in the affections of a man who has no idea what real love is, a man who relies on manipulation to get what he wants, a man who is desperately crying out for his Savior but refuses to see it.
You're going to start your first job and at first you're going to be excited because, after all, it's your first job. But after a while, it's going to get mundane. There won't be much to do. You'll get tired of waking up at 5am and you'll get run down. But there will be bright spots.
One day, a boy is going to put a three-hole punch your desk and it's going to change your life. He's going to sweep you off your feet with his awkward charm and show you just how great it is when a man doesn't use manipulation to get what he wants but really cares about you and your heart.
You're going to get frustrated because you just want to be a writer and you don't understand why God's making you wait. But the thing you'll remind yourself of is that good things come to those who wait and though you can't always see the purpose in the middle of the storm, one day you'll understand the reason for the trial. And you'll see that Jesus was there, the whole time, holding your hand.
It's going to be a rough hard years, but it's going to be a wonderful five years. You're going to be a completely different person at the end of it, but it's a good kind of different.
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