Dear Younger Me,
You’re huddled in your closet, gripping your stuffed bunny rabbit, trying to tune out the world. You have no clue what is going on or what’s to come. And for the latter, I am glad.
Dear younger me, you want to be so strong. You detest the brokenness that’s seeping out from your little heart. But I want you to know it’s okay to be broken. And it’s okay to admit you’re scared and need a hug. A seven-year-old is never meant to carry the weight of perfection. No human on earth can bear that boulder.
Dear younger me, middle school is a train wreck for a lot of people. You aren’t the only one trying to discern who you are, while simultaneously spending all your money on Hollister sweatshirts. But what’s branded across on your chest isn’t nearly as important as what’s branded on your heart. And you, child, have a beautiful heart, washed by the blood of the Lamb. So when those girls tell you, you can’t sit with them, it doesn’t mean a thing about who you are. And when families fracture to the third degree and you’re left scrambling to pick up the pieces, I want you to know: It’s not your job to fix it all.
Dear younger me, I want you to know that as scary as it is, letting the world see your imperfection is a stunning strength. Because Friday nights aren’t supposed to be spent doing crunches and crying alone. They’re meant to be lived, with friends, with Jesus, with transparency. You don’t have to spend years in the cage of anorexia and anxiety. And Hannah, you don’t want to. It’ll break your heart.
Dear younger me, you’re huddled in your closet, gripping your chest and trying to stifle the agony that comes in waves. Because a smile only hides so much. Because you hate your body. You hate what you’ve done and you hate where you’re going. I know. I also know that someday, you won’t grimace at the thought of eating a bagel. Someday, you’ll remember the mean words that high school girls said about your body, and they will no longer make you bitter. There is a Light. You may have to go through hospitals and therapists and failure to get there, but the good Lord will carry you through. Your heart rate will rise, and so will your weight. And you’ll start to breathe again.
Oh younger me, I wish I could save you from the pain that’s coming your way. I wish with all my heart. And yet, I know that the pain and the heartache will stack, moment by moment, to form the foundation upon which you will stand. And with Christ as the Cornerstone, you will emerge and it will be the sweetest freedom you’ve ever tasted. You’ll run and eat and explore the world, and fear will have no dominion over you. In fact, the most bizarre thing will happen. There will be frequent occasions in which you’ll be doing something monotonous- silly, even- and you’ll suddenly be overwhelmed by tears. You’ll excuse yourself from the church service or classroom or wherever you started making a scene, and you’ll find somewhere private. And there, you’ll let you heart burst within you. You’ll cry for the little girl who once thought she could carry it all, and you’ll cry in disbelief at the goodness of the Lord. You’ll cry because you didn’t deserve it, but somehow: Life has found you.
As my man Clive (C.S Lewis) once said, “there are far greater things ahead than any we leave behind.” So let the tears dry and the dust settle, and then: Fight on. Younger me, you and I are not those who shrink back into perdition, but those who persevere to saving of our soul (Hebrews 10:39). And as you persevere, you’re going to realize: It’s all been worth it.