Ah Harmony, I look back at you and I love. It was such fun to be you. You of the imagination, you of the dreams. You of the long brown hair and skin that tanned just like your daddy’s. You, just brimming with promise. But I also look back at you and I ache.
It’s the ache I want to speak to. To do so, I have to begin when you are very, very young. And before I begin, I want to say that through all that is to come, your mama and daddy will be your biggest allies and truest friends. Trust them with all that you are.
Sweet little Harmony, you are four years old and you are about to experience the most violating events of your life. Satan will seek to enslave you forever because of them. I want to tell you ahead of time: Jesus is with you, and he has already set you free.
Child, a very young man (not a family member) will do things to your body–and to his body with your own–that no young man should ever do and no young girl should ever experience. It will bruise your heart, and you will be quite broken. You will wonder the rest of your life who you would be if those things had never been done, but listen: a day will come when you will be astoundingly grateful that it was the road you were given. Because I promise you: Jesus will wholly heal your heart.
Before the healing, though, there is shame you will feel that will lock you in a prison. You won’t know why you do or say or feel as you do, but it will define your inner life. And after the age of nine, the shame will begin to define your outer life, as well. No one will speak to you of what happened–the church will insist upon silence, assuring that you will forget– and you will learn that a heart is not something to be shared. Child, you will even learn to navigate life without exposing your heart to your parents. The belief that you have to do this is a lie. Please, do it differently, for my sake. Talk to your mama. Lean into your daddy. You need them, much more than you know.
When you become a teenager, Harmony, the shame you feel will start to stunt you. You’ll make foolish decisions, but I’m here to tell you: you will also have glimpses of a shame-free, glorious life. One of those glimpses will be your first falling in love. That young-adolescent-romance will hurt your heart, but it will be pure. And one day God will tell you that that hint of love you felt back then? That was a foretaste of the real husband-love that will someday be your own. You’ll cling to that promise, and I pledge to you, it will not disappoint.
But before that husband-love comes your way, you will be a teenager. And as a teen, the shame will move from stunting you to defining all that you are. You’ll put on a pretty good show, but I’m telling you, you’re starting now to make decisions based out of the brokenness in your heart. You just don’t realize. By the time you are 17 you will have entangled your heart in a million friendships just a bit unhealthily, the results of which will hurt a dozen hearts besides your own. But oh, love, soon you’ll begin acting out your wounds in the comfort of a boy, and this will nearly kill you. Please stop now. Can you hear me? You will regret the pain and the loss of friendship for the rest of your life.
Oh, you. It will be so foolish, that path you take, but I want to tell you what it really is: a last ditch effort by the Enemy of Your Heart to truly steal your soul. Because you know what? You are about to encounter the most astounding of miracles. God will heal your heart, saving your soul; you are about to be set free.
The healing will take time, of course. And freedom will be messy at first to walk in. All of it will be instantaneous while still being something you will be learning till the day you die. Marriage, children, and a thousand other things will trigger issues and produce growth, and darling, I want to assure you so deeply: it will be good. It will be better than you can ever ask or think. Just like He promised.
So hang on. I know you feel awkward, pimply, unfashionable and that you secretly still want to play dolls. I know you haven’t figured out how to wear your hair, and I still can’t help you there. But my sweet girl, here’s the thing. You love more fiercely than anyone I know. Your compassion is fathoms deep. Your convictions are truly hard-core. One day all that shame will dissipate, and you will be left with the good, still burning in you. It will take some time to figure out who you really are, I know, so I’ll let you in on a spectacular secret: who you are as a woman will be exactly who you were as child, only without the crippling, terrifying shame. And, of course, you will be grown.
I think, then, that this is what I want to tell you. There is hope. There is a whole heaven’s worth of hope at your disposal, and one day you will dance in it till your heart will burst. Start dancing now. I promise you: Jesus is a better partner than you can ever, ever dream.
Oh– P.S. Share that room upstairs with your brother while you have the chance, okay? And hang out with your little sister. And don’t lose the Tall Girl from your Junior class (she’s one of the best things in your life). Get off the phone, it’s a waste of time. Be honest with your parents. Have sleepovers with your grandmother. Draw. Read. Write. And wait, guarding your heart, for love. The man God’s bringing you is a rare and precious find.
You can write your own letter to your teen self, and link to it at Chatting At The Sky. Or, just tell me about it here. What are a few things you would like to say to yourself as a teenager?