Dear sweet girl,
Today you are 18 years old. Today you are a high school graduate. Today you’re packing boxes of the last years, filling them with the memories and mementos of this last summer of your childhood. Today you are moving into a college dorm room high at the top of a hill in a town seven hours far from home. You have no car, no job, no money, no friends, and your hope is running desperately low. You are scared. You’re young and every fiber of your being is pulled taut, telling you to run from this strange place. Resist it. What you believe, the things you keep repeating to yourself – they are all lies. “I’m not smart enough. “I can’t afford it.” “I hate it here.” “I’m too different to ever fit in.” All of them – they are all lies from the devil. Do not, under any circumstances, allow them to become truths in your life. Because the truth is believing them will force you to deal with consequences for the rest of your life.
Because the truth is: You are smart enough. You’re here. You’ll get a job. You’ll get loans. You’ll work as hard as you have to. You can’t hate it. You haven’t given it a chance. You’ll fit in. You’ll find your people You just need to give it time. Everyone here has left behind their home and their comfort and their friends. More importantly, Jesus is incomprehensibly larger than every single emotion you’re feeling right now.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that you can’t control much, but you can control the fact that you don’t want to be here anymore. You’ll figure out a way out instead of figuring out a way to make it work. You can’t control it, but let me tell you — you cannot manipulate it, either. You think that you don’t belong here and you won’t fit in, but girl, you don’t know the things God has planned for you if you remain obedient and stay the course that God has ordained for your life.
I know that the most logical thing seems to be to drive down that hill, down that freeway, through the sunshine and fields of wine country, right back into the home you’ve always knows, but I promise you, my sweet friend, that it isn’t. If you leave, life will go on. You will cry but you will laugh. You’ll keep in touch with old friends and you’ll make new ones, and eventually you’ll finish school, and the years will pass by so quickly: they will be a vapor in your life. But so much will happen between where you are when you leave that high hill and where you’ll be years later. There will be some self-inflicted injures that will scar you, literally scar you, and some mental and spiritual injuries that will scar you no less than the scars that your arms will bear witness to as you turn into an adult. You will lose your faith and find the world, walking far from what you know the truth is. God will redeem it and turn it all into something beautiful – He will restore the years the locusts ate, and something mighty and holy and sacred will come. You will find your words and you will come back to the place where you know you’re deeply loved by a mighty, holy, passionate, forgiving God. What the world wanted to hold against you, God will use for His glory, and He will direct your path into something powerful for His name. All of your suffering won’t be for naught.
But my sweet girl, this is all the result of your disobedience. This is all a result of the gut reaction you had in the face of change and newness of adult life. Years later, you will find yourself in the car with a woman twenty years older than you, and you’ll listen raptly as she tells you the story of a horse who backs up in fear right down an embankment, dropping its rider. You’ll listen, trembling in her cool truck, as you wait to hear if the rider died, and when you find out she escaped with only a severely battered body, spending weeks in a wheelchair before she miraculously got on her horse again, you will deflate as you let out the breath that bound you tensely to your seat. You will listen because you know in your heart that you are that horse and your life is that rider. You will see your own face as you imagine the terror of the horse, its wild legs flailing as it tries to gain its composure and grounding again, but the truth is that if you allow yourself to go to that extreme, the only way to right yourself is to do it after you’re done falling. And my darling girl, if you reach the subtle beginning of that embankment, I guarantee that you will not be able to right yourself before the slope becomes too drastic to fight against.
A scared horse, you reared up without understanding the damage that would come. You didn’t count the cost and look to the One who held your hand and your heart, the One who you would be surprised to find still holding on years later, when the fog was gone and you could see clearly again. God redeems us all if we submit, but first and foremost – doesn’t He deserve to use our obedience for His glory instead of the mess we create when we disobey? Isn’t it much better for Him, and for us, if we sacrificially give him our firstfruits of obedience and trust instead of the leftovers that come when we put fear and distrust and disobedience first? God already knows what you will choose. Choose well, my love. Because years from now, the advice you give to other young women will be shaped by how you honored Him. You will advise them and it will be good, from God, but it will be shaped by one path or the other. You’ll fall down the embankment or you will hold steady on in the field and over the mountains. Steady on, my love. Hold steady.
Now is the time you can choose.
The woman you will become in the years to come will be loved so thoroughly by God, regardless of what your life looks like today. Be comforted to know that once you believe and accept Him, nothing can separate you, but I beg you to drawn near now and not wait. The blessings God has for you deserve your attention now, not later. Trust that His plan is better than anything you could ever conceive of on your own. Don’t manipulate these days, this college, these people, this time. They are all a part of God’s plan for you. Let them lift you up and encourage you and your heart.
I love you, now and then,