In the past week, I spent time reading my journals from high school. I’ll admit it. I was a bit terrified to read what I wrote. Shockingly, as I read my words from ten years ago, I realized I actually liked my teenage self. First of all, I was good at documenting the events in my life and my feelings about them. Secondly, I had a strong grip on my convictions.
My entries consisted of heartache, goal setting, family frustrations, admiration for the leaders in my life, and prayers. It amazed me to find that as I would describe troublesome times, I would also mention encouraging conversations I had with different people in my life. Those people shaped me to be better, and I am grateful that my heart was in a receptive place to receive their input. (Ginormous thank yous to Karen Austin, Karen Henslee, Jan Ogden, Cheryl Patton, Rich and Lisa Downen, and Alex and Lacey Gorrod. I am forever grateful for your investment into my life.)
I also couldn’t help notice how God was with me throughout the process. Several times I would write of despair, and I would cry out to God for help. Then, I would offhandedly mention a meeting I was going to or a person I had recently met. The me in the future realizes that the meeting or person would become significant in my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but now, I realize that God was actually leading me to places of healing and blessing. Even when it was deeply confusing and dark, God was with me. Always. I love that.
Now, as a high school teacher, I spend most of my time surrounded by teenagers. It is my goal and delight to encourage them in their journey. I remember what it felt like to not be the popular, pretty girl in school. I also remember what it was like to not feel truly connected with my peers because I had a different moral standard. Undoubtedly, high school is a tough season. If I could send a letter to myself at 16, I would want to include the following:
- Notice those who are unseen. You have the opportunity to be a light to those who feel lonely and hurt in your school.
- Read more books, and develop the discipline of reading the Word daily.
- Advocate more for yourself when it comes to your education and future plans. Don’t be shy to ask questions, but always be kind when asking. Kindness is key.
- Realize that teachers are humans, and they work really hard. Try to see things from their perspective. It’ll make you a better human being.
- I know you decided not to date until college, and you’ll stick to your commitment. For that, I am so proud of you. However, don’t even crush on any boy in Goldendale. It’s a waste of time. You’ll meet the man of your dreams your sophomore year of college. Embrace the special years of single-hood.
- Embrace being you and know that you are indeed beautiful inside and out.
- When you go on all those mission trips, pray and encourage the locals more than you feel inclined.
- Join choir. You’ll love it.
- Spend more time with your grandma. Tell her all the things you love about her and how much she has changed your life.
- Go on adventures with your brothers, help them with their homework, and keep talking about Jesus. They look up to you more than you realize.
Live free. Live full.Alyssa