Happy sweet sixteen! I realize your birthday was last week, but as you know, we are never on time for anything, so belated birthday wishes are pretty typical. I say “we” because, yes, I am your 33-year-old self writing to you from the future.
I know 33 sounds ancient to you right now, but believe it or not, you actually won’t feel that old at this age (despite your aching back and 9 o’clock bedtime on Fridays). There is so much you probably hope I will tell you- so many unknowns that you are dying to know.
I hate to disappoint, but I just can’t tell you about those things right now. See, there are lessons you need to learn about trusting God with the unknown future. If you knew how everything panned out, your faith wouldn’t get refined, and that would be one of the greatest tragedies.
However, I will give you a few spoilers.
First, two of the girls at your sweet-sixteen party will be your life- long friends. You will stand beside them on their wedding days, throw them baby showers, visit them when they move to far away places, and grow old together even though you won’t see each other very often.
There are also girls in other parts of California, girls in Colorado, Texas, and even Alaska who will become your “grow old and grey together” kind of friends. One of your future friends is in pre-school right now. Another is 30 and a mother of two. You will find that age becomes less and less important as you get older.
There are other girls at your party with whom you will lose touch. In fact, most of the people you hang out with in the next few years will become “people you used to know.” But don’t worry, many of them will become Facebook friends, so you’ll be able to stalk them at will. I realize that makes zero sense to you right now, but just know that one day your sister’s pager will not seem so high-tech and you won’t always be able to listen in on her phone conversations from the upstairs phone.
Speaking of your sister, even though right now you and Heidi have separate rooms and separate lives, in the next few years she will become your very best friend in the world. Friends come and go, but sisters stay forever. So stop fighting with her about borrowing her clothes and her car. Oh and tell her the truth when you crash the Nissan. If you don’t, she’ll tease you about it for years.
And your annoying little brothers? Well, they’ll ALWAYS be your annoying little brothers. But one day you will realize they have become your friends as well. Those skinny little troublemakers will grow into giant men of God who will marry beautiful girls who become your dear friends. They will move away eventually, so spend as much time as you can with them- even if they drive you crazy with all the farting and the made-ya-looking.
Even crazier than befriending your brothers? One day you’ll be friends with your parents. After you grow out of your eye-rolling stage, you will discover that all their “no’s” were for a reason. You will realize how much they have sacrificed for you, how much they have lavished their love on you, and you’ll finally be truly grateful for these intelligent, hilarious people you call Mom and Dad.
The world will change dramatically in the next 17 years. People will be googling, tweeting, snap-chatting, blogging, and tumbling. The number sign will get used a lot more often, phones will get tiny and then huge again; your giant book of cds will become obsolete, you’ll use a selfie stick when traveling, and it will become a good thing to be “sick” or “swag.”
However, some things will never change. Farts will still be funny. Cartoons will still be awesome. Your cat will still be alive!!
Mom will still slip you money when Dad’s not looking. You still won’t be able to sing. You’ll never learn to dance. But you will become a pretty proficient French-braider thanks to something called Pinterest.
Now I’m afraid I have some bad news. That acne that plagues your face and makes you want to wear a paper bag over your head? It still hasn’t gone away. Ridiculous, right?!? But hey, it’s okay- you’ll figure out the whole makeup thing eventually, and all those zits force you to develop a sense of humor. And those giant, thunder thighs you can’t seem to hide? You’ll run marathons on them one day, so be grateful.
That’s right. In the not-too-far-future you will become a runner and people will have no idea you ever played basketball. You will discover that you are so much more than just the things you are good at. Your identity will no longer be wrapped up in your ability to dribble a ball or block a shot. No one will ever ask you about your GPA or SAT, so stop stressing. You are so much more than your grades.
I know that some days you feel ugly and invisible since boys don’t pay much attention to you. Be grateful you don’t have to deal with the drama that comes with them and instead enjoy the freedom to be gross and goofy with your girlfriends. There is a reason that your attic will be overflowing with a bright assortment of bridesmaid dresses.
I know your main question for me is whether or not you’ll ever get married. Do you ever find “the one?” Do you have kids and a dog and live happily ever after?
All you need to know right now is that during the years when your friends are going on dates, then buying white dresses, and then painting nursery rooms, you won’t.
It kinda sucks.
But then again, it’s kinda wonderful.
Because it is during these years that you will fall truly, madly, deeply in love with Jesus. You will hurt and sometimes feel alone. But He will comfort you and give you the gift of His presence. You will get to know Him in ways you never would if you had never experienced the pain of a longing heart.
In the midst of the longing, you will discover that He is all you need.
In the middle of the long wait, you will encounter a God more intimate and loving than you could ever imagine.
So to answer your question about getting married, sorry but I just can’t tell you. The only way to learn about trust is to be forced to face the great unknown. However, I can tell you that you do find your happily ever after. You find it in your relationship with your Savior.
Before I go, here are a few final suggestions.
Enjoy those bottomless bowls of ice-cream while you can. Your metabolism will not always be so kind.
Stop dreaming about marrying Prince William. He’ll find a Kate who is much more put together than you’ll ever be.
Learn to care more about God’s opinion of you than the opinions of others. The quicker you can learn this lesson, the better.
When you’re tempted to buy overalls and tube tops, please don’t.
Cling to God with everything you’ve got. Everyone you know will change, but He will always stay the same.
Do NOT get your belly button pierced.
Reading in bad lighting really does hurt your eyesight, so turn on a light already.
Stop comparing yourself to the popular girls.
Keep getting those warts burned off. Eventually they go away for good!
Ease up on the eye liner.
Call your grandparents.
All those years of laughing till your stomach hurts will give you some crazy laugh lines, but they are worth it. Keep howling.
Life turns out to be one wild and crazy adventure, but it is filled with seemingly mundane days. Learn to find the adventure in each of those days, and you’ll never be bored.
But if you do get bored, this thing called “Netflix” will be invented. It. Is. Amazing.
I write this letter to give you hope during your high school years. You have no idea the joy and adventure God has in store for you. You will befriend incredible people all over the planet and eat foods your tastebuds have never dreamed of. You will laugh hard but also hurt deeply. You will explore places on the globe you couldn’t find on a map and you will love people in ways that will physically hurt.
Oh, Katie, it is such a glorious journey. Keep reading the Bible as your guide and when you celebrate your 33rd birthday, you will have a full heart and a content soul.
your 33-year-old self
PS- For the love of all that is holy, put on some sun block!!!