I wrote this back in November. Many of you have already read it. After several asks about “The Letter” I decided to re-post it. So, if you have already read it, read it again. Maybe you will find something that wasn’t there before. If you haven’t, maybe it will serve you in a way that you needed today.
Writing letters to myself or to those with whom I can no longer speak, is nothing new to me. I have not done it in quite some time, but it’s not a new concept. Therapists, institutions, sponsors and spiritual advisers have been using it for years.
For months I have been thinking about what I would say to my 13 year old daughter, Isabella. Not about very specific things, but about life in general. The overall picture. What it looks like when there are several chapters and one can flip back through the pages.
I have been completely stumped.
She and I talk about everything. I do not sugarcoat or hold very much back with her. I want her to know what the world is like without paralyzing her with fear. I want her to be armed with knowledge so that she has the necessary tools when things arise.
I want her to grasp that God is loving and forgiving. And at the same time know that there are decisions one can make that will carry a heavy price and be with you for the rest of your life.
It was not until about a week ago that it occurred to me to write the letter to myself.
The picture is one that I chose my first year in sobriety when my sponsor told me to think of how old I was when I abandoned my true self.
She told me to put it in a beautiful frame and place it beside my bed and every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to bed, I was to say to that little girl, “I’m sorry I abandoned you all those years ago. I’m here now and I am picking up your hand and will walk through this with you.”
I thought she was crazy, but I did it.
I did whatever she told me to do because I was desperate and fighting for my life.
She had been sober for more than 24 hours so I knew she had something that I didn’t.
Now, more than 9 years later, I can understand exactly why she had me do this exercise and why she made me make my bed and tell the truth about absolutely everything as I would have lied about things as simple as, “Did you brush your teeth this morning?”
The picture is no longer by my bed. It has been tucked away in a drawer where I can look at it whenever needed, but I don’t feel the need to apologize to the little girl staring back at me.
So here is my humble attempt at giving myself advice…if I could…which of course I can’t…but I can give it to Bella, when I have the courage. What she does with it is entirely up to her.
If you remember nothing else except this one paragraph, you will be okay.
It’s this, God is good, all the time, even when it doesn’t feel like it. He has a plan and purpose for your life. It will have very little to do with outward appearance and everything to do with your heart, mind and spirit, which I believe encompass your soul.
I know that you are only a child, but if you will take these things I am going to tell you and trust them as if your life depended on it, you will look back with fewer regrets, less sorrow and more fulfillment.
Learn all you can. Keep your mind open to the beautiful things that God puts in front of you everyday. Find a scripture that you love, it can be one sentence, memorize it and hide it away in your heart. When the world begins to tell you lies, and they will, quickly bring it to the forefront of your mind and bathe in it’s truth.
Know that, though your parents are far from perfect, they are doing the best they can with what they have including the knowledge they have been given. There will be times when you don’t understand their decisions or rulings, but just know that there is a reason that many years ago God was telling children to respect their father and mother.
Ultimately, you are accountable to God and no one else. However, until you are of age to understand this concept and use it in a wise way, you will sit under the authority of your parents.
Don’t get so caught up in appearance. Honestly, looks fade and eventually what you have on the inside begins to show more than what you look like on the outside. There is a transparency of sorts that happens over time that is beyond your control and if you have not been nurturing your spirit, you will not reflect the light of the Father as you are capable of doing.
Boys are going to notice you. You will not be ready emotionally for this kind of attention. This is when you take shelter under the authority of your parents. You may not agree with everything they say, but there is protection from things that you have yet seen.
If you remember whose you are, you will remember who you are.
There will come a time when you feel lost. That’s okay. Again, this will probably happen while you are still under the authority of your parents. They won’t understand. That’s okay too. This is when you can begin to build a solid relationship with your Heavenly Father. It is in this time, He will be the only one who understands.
You don’t have to abuse your body by restricting food or overusing substances. Your body truly is a temple. The Holy Spirit lives in you and though this is your earthly shell, you will have it for some time and how well it runs is up to you.
You do not have to give yourself away. I don’t just mean physically. I mean mentally and emotionally as well. If you could pour all of the energy that you use seeking approval from others, into learning and owning what the Father thinks of you, you will build an unshakeable foundation.
Life does not come without difficulties. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, run as far and as fast as you can away from them.
There will be pain. When the pain comes, the thing that will serve you most is your faith in Christ. Knowledge is great, but you will always be told that you need more of it, there is never enough. Faith is what will come to your rescue in times of darkness.
There will be times when you make decisions that you regret. That’s okay. Deal with them promptly and move on. God says that when we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and remember them no more. If the Creator of the Universe is capable of that, you certainly can be.
Don’t allow anyone to make you feel small. It is not without your permission that they will intrude on your heart. Keep your mind strong and filled with truth so that you are able to quickly combat anything negative that is thrown at you.
You are a child of the most high King. Beautiful, treasured, sacred in His eyes. Rest in the promise that His plan is perfect. He has the best life that you are capable of living all laid out for you. I know you can’t see it now, but you will.
One day, as you look back, you will see how it unfolded before your eyes like a well written story. That’s what it is really. You are His story. Better yet, His masterpiece and there is no one better to write your story than He.
You are the co-author. Don’t forget that. You most certainly have to do your part, but He is ultimately the Author and finisher.
You are beautiful. Not because of the clothes you wear or the attention from others or anything exterior. It is because you are a light in a dark world.
Others will see that light and want to know how to have it themselves. Be ready to share your faith. Everything that you are learning is leading you to a place where, when the time comes, you can share eternity with the lost.
And truly, nothing matters more than knowing the One who created you, who had you in mind before He formed you in your mother’s womb. It is a lifelong journey seeking Him. But along the way, you will have the opportunity to share what you are learning and grasping, which could in turn change a life.
I know, you will question whether you are someone who God can use to help others. Believe me, you are. He is grooming you for greatness. Making you more to His likeness. Whispering truths when your heart deceives you.
All the while, using your life, your gifts and flaws, to win others to Him.
There is no greater purpose.
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Beautiful…very touching…you brought tears to my eyes. Your letter is tender, sweet and healing.
I love it! You were a beautiful and precious child….and you are a beautiful and precious lady…inspiring many to be healed. A lovely post…thank you!
Victoria, thank you.
Your kind words of encouragement mean a great deal to me.
Blessings to you!
“bathe in it’s truth” wow what beautiful language! and these words “If you remember whose you are, you will remember who you are.” and “Faith is what will come to your rescue in times of darkness.”
Great words of wisdom for us all.
Thank you Mark.
My mom used to tell me to remember “whose” I am. Though I didn’t always apply that, I never forgot it 🙂
This is very honest and real, Joy. I believe that is the only way to be with ourselves and our children. One day, when Bella understands everything that your heart has endured, she will know how you came to depend on the Lord and how you draw your strength, peace and comfort from Him. Then, she too, will have to decide if she is going to choose that route or take a detour or two. I have learned that, while raising 6 children. Sometimes they learn from what we have learned and sometimes, they have to learn for themselves.
This is a beautiful letter and I know it will bless Bella and show her what the grace of God can do and what it DID do for her mama!
You are a blessing!
Thank you Erin.
I greatly appreciate your encouragement.
Thank you for commenting, Mo. I wish someone had told me these things before I lived them. We do the best we can with what we have at the time and once we know better, we do better. I am so thankful for second chances and that God didn't leave me in the gutter. Thank you for reading!
this … moved me so much. not sure what else to say. It's beautiful, and your letter has wisdom that every young person needs to hear.