Will you believe me? What about Him?

The Christmas banquet you attended with a boy…and your best girl friend. When the 3 of you arrived, you quickly learned you were 1 of 3 girls wearing that dress.

Dear 15-year-old me,

Let me jump right in with a question. Will you believe me when I say, “It all works out”?

Really. All your worries & fears about the unknowns. All your plans for the future…they may not turn out the way you imagined, but in most cases they’ll turn out even better.

Let’s start with your shallow biggest concerns.

Acne. Those zits that keep you insecure. Hiding behind lots of permed hair. Experimenting with toothpaste as a nighttime-miracle-acne treatment.  I have awesome news! Your skin clears up when you take the medicine, Accutane, in college. (FYI, those zits did serve a purpose…they helped keep away “those” boys and save you for the perfect one.)

Speaking of boys, I know it feels nice to have someone appreciate you, listen to you and laugh with you, but what you feel is friendship, not “true love”. Your need for love & approval will continue to drive your thoughts and decisions. Because you care so much about what people think, you tend to get your feelings hurt easily (fortunately you ‘toughen up’ some over the next 20 years).

Sometimes you get hurt unintentionally. But if a boy continues to treat you as “less than” or purposefully makes you upset…walk away! Because there is an amazing man waiting for you. The love you feel for him…it’s the real deal…worth the wait. He will make you very happy and appreciate your sensitive side. (And that “people pleasing” thing…oh sister,  someday, with God’s help, we will conquer it.)

Not only will God bring a handsome, tall, loyal, genuine, charming, positive, enthusiastic Texan (yep a TEXAN!) into your life. He’s got LOTS of adoring boys in your future (all Texans!).

FOUR sons who think you hung the moon. Who ask for kisses, squeezes and hugs every night before bed. Who cry if they miss the chance to get a kiss on the neck. Who fight over who gets to sit on your lap. They pour this unconditional love on you every day (sometimes in the middle of the night you get special “dates” with a particularly adorable 6 month old one).

The biggest thing I want you to know, God gifted you (not just as the fastest typer of the Sophomore class). Maybe not athletically (nothing wrong with a Senior on the JV tennis team), but He is laying a foundation now to use you in the future for His glory.

Again, you are striving in your efforts for approval. You think the more you do, the better you do it, the more you will be loved and accepted. I totally get it. But if you keep meeting with Him. Praying. Following His leading you will get to be a part of His hand in the lives of the hurting. You will be fully loved and accepted by Him.

Oh how I wish I had gotten this letter when I was 15.

To tell you the truth, I would love for a 55-year-old me to send a letter right about now. Letting me know my boys all “turn out” okay. That it was worth the twenty years of pouring pieces of me into their lives. That they all love Jesus & serve Him. That they are dating or married each to women who loves God first and them second (and all those daughter-in-laws love each other). Maybe a grandchild is due any day…

I wish hearing a “good report” from a future me would keep me from worry. Yet the reality is, I probably wouldn’t believe me, just like you probably don’t believe me right now (am I confusing yet? time travel stuff is complicated).

Here’s the good news. Someone, who created the world, who is outside of time, wrote you a Letter. In it He tells you over and over, “It will all be okay…really.”

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

But you forget. I forget. And we try to handle things our way. We worry about the unknowns, even when we know the One who knows it all.

So you and I don’t need reports from future selves to keep our worry “in check”. Really we need to keep looking at His letter. Keep reading His words, “it will all be okay.” Not because of anything we do, but because He has done it all!**

Love ya (a little self-love),
*h

**That is the essence of grace. Unmerited favor. He loves us even though we don’t deserve it. Even “good girls” struggle to believe they deserve His love. Emily Freeman, author of “Grace for the Good Girl” just released a book for teenage girls to help them understand true grace, called “Graceful“. Wish I would have had her guidance 20 years ago!

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Grace for Your Reality, not Your Imagination

In searching through some old journals God continued to speak to my fear.

Eight years ago I attended a women’s retreat at our church. A godly women, Vickie Kraft** was our speaker.

On my notes I scribbled the words: “What does God expect from us in crisis”…

The first thing: DO NOT BE AFRAID!

To “actively resist fear”, just as I had learned from Amy fighting her voices.

“When I am afraid,

I put my trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise,

in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4

As I read this familiar Scripture I notice the repeated words: “trust” sandwiched between “fear”. When I am afraid, I will trust. And when I trust, I will not be afraid. I overcome fear with the decision to trust.

Fear doesn’t have to be big to be a problem…

photo credit

Fear can begin in its smallest form: worry. Vickie paints a picture in the quote above, of the path I create for other emotions and thoughts to travel when I worry. Even my smallest fears, invading my mundane as worry, require trust. 

 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Again this familiar verse involves repeated words: worry & tomorrow. Sandwiched between worry is tomorrow. Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will worry about itself. Just do today. Don’t allow even a trickle of fear for tomorrow to enter your mind.

I absolutely LOVE what Vickie shared with us next,

There is no grace for your imagination.

There is grace for your reality.

When I worry about tomorrow, I am imagining what could happen. But I have NO idea what will occur 24 hours from now. Any thought I have about tomorrow’s concerns is imagined. Any feeling of fear I have comes from ignoring my reality. Not being fully present.

Next time I start to worry about the boy’s future selves–> STOP. That’s imagined. No grace.

Start to worry about what other’s think–> STOP. That’s imagined. No grace.

Start to worry about how a child could get hurt–> STOP. That’s imagined. No grace.

Instead be fully present. This moment, right now, is a gift. A gift of grace. It’s not imagined. It’s reality.

Do you struggle with worry or fear? Today when your mind starts to project and imagine what “could” happen, stop yourself, and repeat, “no grace for my imagination”. 

**Our women’s conference speaker was Vickie Kraft, a mother of five grown children. She obtained a seminary degree from Dallas Theological Seminary after her children left home (I think one of the oldest graduates). Began Titus 2:4 ministries, wrote three books (including “Women mentoring Women”) and for 14 years was our church’s women’s minister.