Dear 16 Year Old Ashleigh,
You need to hear these things that no one was brave enough to say to you.
You need to have guidance and accountability at this stage where you’re about to wander far away.
Here is a random brain dump of things I wish someone would have said to me then:
- Emotions are not best kept under the rug.
- No, you don’t need that tattoo. Hear me when I say this, a time not too far from now you will wish you never covered your skin in ink. Take that image you like so much and frame it on the wall.
- Getting straight As will not fill the gap in your relationship with your parents.
- Dying your hair will not fix your insecurity.
- Jesus really is the only way. Universalism (what you were taught growing up) is false. All ways do not go to heaven. There are many sincere people around the world who have different beliefs, but they are sincerely wrong about them. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water…. all religions cannot be true but that doesn’t mean that none of them are. Do not turn to paganism. Do not turn to atheism.
- Sin is a real thing. Sin is serious. Even though the culture celebrates sin, it is abhorrent to God.
- That anxious, deep, chasm you feel will only ever be comforted by Jesus.
- Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
- First impressions are almost always wrong. (Never jump to conclusions)
- It’s possible to love someone and not agree with them on everything.
- Don’t eat gluten LOL (you have celiac disease and that’s why you don’t feel great)
- God can take bad situations and make something helpful and beautiful out of it
- You don’t need to work two jobs in High school. RELAX. I know more than anything that you want to be independent and leave your house, but enjoy being 16 years old and stop trying to “grow up” so quickly.
- Stay away from those boys. They are bad news. Charming, but bad news. Trust me.
- Giving yourself away physically to “relationships” you have at this age is not what true love is. Love is patient. I know you never had a proper understanding of what love is, but understand this: sharing your body is sacred and should only be done with your future husband.
- Talk more to the people at school who sit alone.
- Read your Bible every single day. It refreshes your soul.
- Remember that when other people ignore you, and don’t make time to have the quality conversation that you crave, that your Heavenly Father sees you and hears every word. You are not alone, even when you feel insignificant to everyone else.
- Be grateful for everything you have, God has blessed you with it.
- Remember there will always be someone who has it better than you (do not envy) and someone who has it worse than you (be grateful and humble always)
- People who make effort to reach out to you and don’t make you feel like a bother- talk to them more.
- Forgive all the people in your life. Allow yourself to feel the emotion you have, and process it, then let it go. All those people you know of who are older and very bitter have one thing in common- they cannot forgive others. Jesus forgave you for far worse, and the inability to forgive is when you exaggerate an offense someone else has committed against you and minimizing the sin you have committed against God* (*I read this thought somewhere recently, and can’t remember who said it)
- Respect and Honor your parents. Even when they let you down. They’re trying the best they can.
- Be the woman you want your future daughters to be.
- A beautiful woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout -Proverbs 11:22
Since I can’t actually write to my younger self, this is more of a reflection of the very hard lessons I learned in my life before Christ. I spent 5 very painful years wandering in the desert before Jesus saved me, and marinating in a culture of sin and deep depravity. 1 Cor 6:9 resonates with me deeply. Thank You God for reaching down into the mire to save my soul from myself. Thank you for hearing me when I cried out to you.
You deserve all Praise forever and ever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to or perform homosexual acts,10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.