A Letter to My 17-Year-Old Self
Dear Younger Me,
You’re about to graduate and move, to where it seems way too close to home, to go to college. You’re excited but nervous. Ready but scared. You’ll leave behind, what at the time, you thought was your identity. But thankfully, you’ll move into a tiny dorm room where your roommate will encourage you, strengthen you and pursue you- without her even knowing it. You’ll lie to her and sneak out; just so you won’t have to feel guilty. You’re lying to almost everyone who truly cares about you and you’re thinking you’ll get away with it.
You’re about to experience heartbreak. You’re about to feel alone.
The guy who has been holding your heart in his hands for the last year and a half is going to leave you in ruins. He’s going to leave you feeling empty and broken. You’ll try and act like it’s okay and you have everything under control, like you always do, but this time you can’t control anything.
You’ll go looking for acceptance, warmth, and love in all the wrong places. You’ll find this out the hard way. You’ll crave attention, even if it comes at a price. Even if it costs you everything. Your life is filled with lying and deceit. You do things you never would have done just six months ago. You hang out with people who you think care, but they really don’t at all. You will find that out the hard way too.
Your first semester of college will come to an end and you’ll have to face the reality of telling your parents you lost HOPE. You’ll lie and tell them that you were trying your best, but college is just so different than high school, yet you know that’s not why you failed. You failed because you stayed out too late, doing things you never thought you would do when you came to college. You’ll get distracted and stop caring about school.
Over Christmas break, you will go on a Christian conference with some of your new college friends. Maybe you’ll skip some meetings to choreograph dances in your room with your new BFF, but what you get out of those five days will challenge you to the core.
You’ll leave asking yourself, “Do I know God?” “Am I a Christian?”
And in the spring semester, you’ll figure out the answer to that question. No.
The truth you come to realize will scare you. You’ll begin to read your Bible and pray (even though you don’t really know how to). But you’ll still run. You’ll run from solid community and the feeling inside that tells you to turn away from what you are doing. You’ll know that it isn’t good. You’ll know that it isn’t helpful. But you still run to it. You continue in the ways you walked last semester, but you’ll pretend that you’ve changed. You will soon fake a life of loving God. Those around you will say you are a Christian but you know you don’t love God; you love yourself.
You will try as hard as you can to put your life back together. Back to the way it was before you left for college. You try and try but ultimately God has a better way of piecing your life together in His own perfect way.
For some miraculous reason (being at the beach for 8 weeks) you’ll decide to give up your summer of going home and being comfortable to go on Summer Leadership Project. You know it’ll be good for you and you want to change but the thought of being challenged will scare you. Despite what your gut says; you’ll go.
You’ll drive six hours to the beach. But it won’t be an easy drive. You’ll encounter a road fire and you’ll become an emotional roller coaster the whole way there. As you pull into what looks like a roach motel, you’ll feel like you’re going to throw up. You get out of the car and put on a brave face as you meet the people you’ll be living with and as you face the reality that you’ll be working in fast food all summer.
The first couple weeks will go by and you’ll feel okay. But only because you’ll be fighting every urge in you to be vulnerable and to give your life to the Lord. The summer will come to an end and you’ll be exhausted, emotionally and physically. You’ll come home with only a few weeks before your Sophomore year of college starts. You’ll feel different. Joyful. Comforted. Loved. The truth will change your life.
You’ll begin your next semester knowing that you have given your life to the Lord and your old ways are done. Your guilt and shame will be gone. You will know that God sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to die on the cross. You will know that He died and rose again so that you could be reconciled to your Father.
You will begin to see your life as not your own. You will want others to know Christ and want others to experience this kind of amazing grace and love that you have now. You will lose friends. The ones who you thought cared so much about you will back away because they won’t want the kind of life you will talk about. They will see that you have changed and will leave. But this time, you won’t feel alone. You won’t feel defeated. You’ll feel whole.
You’ll start to date a guy. A guy who knows about your messy past. A guy who was even hurt by your lies, yet he still wants to date you. This relationship will be drastically different than any other relationship you’ve ever had. You’ll be encouraged, challenged, loved, and pursued. You’ll fall for him in the first months of knowing him. Then one day, he’ll ask you a question you’ve been dreaming of your whole life. And you’ll say, “yes”.
On a sunny afternoon, you’ll stand beside him, in front of all your family and friends, and say, “I do”. Your life as a Lawrence will begin so smoothly. You’ll spend the entire summer together just being newlyweds. Then real life will start, and marriage will become more challenging. You won’t see each other as much and you’ll feel left out of community. But, every day you’ll thank the Lord that He gave you a best friend to do life with in any and every circumstance. He will lead you closer and closer to the Lord. He will take a job that allows you to pour into others and be poured into yourself. You will soon start to do a job and live a life that you never would have imagined.
If only you could see your life now… it’s radiant. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always fun. But the Lord brought you to Himself in the most perfect way. He brought you to your lowest point so His grace could pick you up. No longer will your life be about desperation and opposition. The Father wrote your story of redemption and reconciliation. He rewrote the story you had written for yourself. And one day, you’ll want to share your story.
Written by : Alana Lawrence