dearest 16-year-old me

Dear Tory,

I know that right now, life is easy. There is no life beyond the walls of your high school and your friends’ houses on the weekends. Sure, it may seem complicated, but your life is truly terrific. I can promise you that life will come, and when it does, you will handle it well. But there are some things that I need you to know; some lessons I need you to learn now, while you’re figuring things out.

1. Don’t hold grudges. It does not become you my dear. Learn to pick your battles carefully and have mercy. Be graceful when things don’t go your way, and learn to let the little things roll off your shoulders. Admit that you are wrong. Learn to laugh at the days to come. The less you worry about what others are thinking, the more joy you will find.

2. Love your Mama. I know it’s hard right now. You’ve both got so much that you’re dealing with, but show her grace and forgiveness. She loves you more than you will ever understand. I know it may be hard, but hug her and tell her you love her and go get your nails done. It’ll be worth it, I promise.

3. If you have to hide aspects of your relationships from your friends, then get out. Your best friend will be around a lot longer than boys will. If you are keeping things from her about what you and your boyfriend are doing, the way he’s treating you, or how lonely you feel, you will only end up in a pit that you dug yourself. I know you think she’ll tell you to kick him to the curb, but it’s because she loves you. Listen to her. She sees the things that you can’t and she’s right.

4. Focus on school. I know it seems so “cool” to be lazy and insolent about school, but you are forming habits right now that will be with you for the rest of your life. Try your hardest to get good grades. Study hard. Strive to learn. You’re smart. Plus it’ll make your Daddy really proud.

5. Love is not a competition. You will figure things out in your own way, in your own time. There is no need to rush into anything with any boy, just because you want to stay relevant with your friends. Be smart. You know the difference between right and wrong, hold yourself accountable.

6. Boys are not the only thing. Focus instead on learning more about Jesus, and doing the things you love to do. I can promise you that you will regret quitting horseback riding because you were too busy trying to win the attention of some boy. No matter how much attention he gives you, no matter how big his promises, no matter how flattering his words, there is more to your purpose on this earth than to strive for the attention of a guy. You are worth so much more. You are priceless and precious. Act like it.

7. Make mistakes, but learn from them. Shame is not yours to carry. You have been bought with a price and the ransom paid for you allows you to walk in freedom. You are allowed to make mistakes; you’re still figuring out what it means to be you. Learn from those mistakes. Repent, and bring glory to Jesus.

8. Be present. Don’t look forward so much that you miss the beauty around you. Learn everything you can from your small group. Go to football games. Spend too much money at the movies. Stay up late and off of Facebook. Love the people around you so well. Live in the moment and love every single second of your beautiful existence.

XOXO,

Tory

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