Oh, honey.

I’m you from the future so don’t get mad  when I say this but…

You have no idea what you don’t know.

I’m in a place of security and peace so I can say this to you because I know you’re not.  In fact, it will be a while before you will be so enjoy the journey and hang-on for dear-life.  Your prize for sticking in will be worth it.

I see how you cling to boys to fill a hole in your heart that, as you will eventually learn, will only be able to be filled by God.

No, you’re not promiscuous.  I know.  But you do have to have a boyfriend all of the time, right?

And what about the things that other people say about you?  The stuff that isn’t true and even the stuff that is?

I see your pain and I can feel it. Pain that deep is never forgotten.

Those girls that bullied you when you were in sixth grade and paralyzed you with fear? What you didn’t know at the time was that they themselves were paralyzed by the fear of themselves.  Their insecurity was the very thing that caused them to chant “We Hate Natalie!” from a car in the Pizza Hut parking lot in a small Indiana town after a high school football game.  They hated you because a boy they liked actually liked you.  But you didn’t get that – you thought there was something wrong with you.

Their mission was achieved. That’s exactly what they were trying to do all along.

And how about the girls who did the same after you had moved to a new, much larger city?  Your freshman year when a group of four girls followed you around with long shears threatening to cut your hair off in the very hallways you passed through between classes?

Same drill.

But here’s the thing…These girls who wounded you showed you the path to the ones that were real.  A valuable lesson in how to discern the wheat from the chaff.

There’s Holly who walked right by your side while those girls wielded their shears.  She grabbed you on numerous occasions and redirected you to other halls at the first glimpse of them.

Who could forget Jennifer?  Your strong “Heart Sister” to this day who has done life with you since you were both in seventh grade?  Or Katherine who is the same?  And what about Kristen and Alicia who became your sorority sisters in college?

The bottom line is this, Natalie:  You are allowing those who base their identity on worldly things to control how you think of your own self.  These girls who pick on you?  They are massively insecure and unhappy with themselves so it makes them feel good to make you hurt as much as they’re hurting because hurting people hurt people.

And I’m sorry to tell you, but these girls don’t go away.  They’re alive and well as far as I can see at the age of 39.  It doesn’t seem that they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.

But I will tell you this:  Love. Wins.

Fight back and you give them exactly what they’re after.  Fling an insult after an insult and you’ll give them the satisfaction of knowing they reached you at some level.  Sadly enough, this is just the encouragement they will need to keep doing it.

Instead, when you see those girls coming at you with those ominous shears, look them in the eye.  Say “hello”. Ask them kindly what’s causing them so much pain. Apologize if you have done something to them (though I can tell you right now it’s just your mere existence that infuriates them) so you can an offer a position of humility.

They’ll likely call you a b*&^%.  That’s OK.  They don’t even know you because you’ve never even had a conversation with them.  They’ve just decided that they hate you.  And that’s OK, too.

They are incredibly broken.  They, too, don’t know what they don’t know.  You’ve at least got that in common with them.

From where I sit now, in my late-thirties, I can tell you of someone else who was bullied, ridiculed, and hated for no reason.

Who willingly gave His life, shed His innocent blood, for people who didn’t deserve it.  People who heckled Him.  People who were also rooted in things of the world.

And once you meet Him when you’re 27, you will begin to grasp just how love does always win.

Oh.  And your husband is hot and good to you and your kids are stunningly beautiful and wild and silly and more than you could ever dream of.  I tell you this  because there are some rough waters ahead before you get there.

His plan is more than you can possibly imagine.

So hang on, girl.  It’s worth it.

Lovingly,

Your 39 Year Old Self

I really wanted to include photos of my teenage self in this post but alas, I write this too late (catching-up is hard this week) and my pictures are scattered.  I hope to scrounge some up to share with you!

Sweet Emily from “Chatting at the Sky” is launching her new book, Graceful. Graceful is for girls ages 14 to 18 so if you know someone in this demographic, you will want to share this with her.  Along with all of these letters, too.