Well, you're 16 and it's the summer before your Junior year of High School.
You survived driver's ed, which terrified you, but not as badly as you thought it would. You even LIKED some of it, which terrified you more, but you keep that hush-hush. Don't worry - I won't tell anyone. :)
You are about to survive your first major break-up in a few months, and I'm happy to tell you it will be your last. You will try to date another guy for a little while, but I ask you not to - he's all charm and no character. When you're dad tells you that he'll tell the guy he can no longer see you so you don't have to break the kid's heart, he means it and he does exactly that. Remember to tell your dad a million times over "thank you" for this, because that one simple act spares you years of hurt since the guy was a lot more trouble than anyone could imagine at the time.
You will think at times that you're alone. You will struggle to make sense of life. You will go off to a college just because your twin sister goes there in just 2 short years, and that's just where God wants you - you meet your future husband there and your life changes forever, especially since it's your husband who is the one who helps lead you to the Lord when you're 29.
You know those cute guys from High School who you think see right through you? You know those classmates who seem to have it all and don't care at all about you? Years from now, at your 10 year class reunion, they will all want to talk to YOU and see how YOU are and tell you what an amazing person you were then and how glad they are to see you. You will be shocked...especially because they mean it. You weren't the "band nerd" you thought you were afterall.
When you go off to college, you will be convicted about your walk with God. You will start to feel deep in your soul that you are not a Christian. I beg you - LISTEN. Don't wait until your 29 to get saved, don't let your pride get in the way. Stop telling yourself you're crazy, that the conviction will go away - it doesn't. You will waste years of your life in misery on the inside, smile plastered in place on the outside, that can be avoided if you JUST yield now.
In 4 years time, you will be tempted to break up with the guy you're dating (your future husband, believe it or not) - don't. He's the right one for you. The other guy that you think likes you? He doesn't. He's a user and is just stringing you along. Don't fall for it! In fact, when your dad talks about asking him to help out with the camp, beg your father not to let him. Stay as far away as you can from guys like him.
You get married just 2 weeks shy of your 22nd birthday - just 6 years from now. I know right now you don't feel very lovable or wanted, but I promise you, you are and you will feel differently soon since you will meet him in just over 2 years. You won't date at all in those 2 years before you meet him, and you may be tempted to lament it, but don't - that is God's gift to you to spare your heart. Be grateful for it. You will see your sister and other girl friends struggle through multiple relationships that shatter them. God is sparing you from that fate...and that is a valuable gift. Be there for your sister, your friends, and be grateful to God for guarding your heart.
When you get married, you will expect it to be a fairytale life - it's not. You will eventually begin to become the wife and mother you want to be, but it takes a lot more work than you could ever imagine. You love your husband and your children with all your heart and would do anything for them, but you almost forget that for a little while.
The first day you hold your firstborn son in your arms in just 8 short years, thank him. His birth keeps you where you are meant to be when the times get hard before you are saved. Wanting him to grow up with a mommy and a daddy in his life keeps you faithful, as hard as that is to admit.
Each time you look at each one of your 3 precious children for the first time, make sure that you thank each of them for how they transform you, how God uses them to teach you more about Him and His love, and how they keep you from making so many more mistakes and keep you striving to be the best you can be.
I know right now you think you have to be perfect. You get straight A's, you try to do what's right, you have all the right answers...but that's not what life is about. Life is meant to be lived with integrity and honesty. When you can't do it, that's ok - you aren't meant to do it all. You are meant to rely on God. We NEED Him. We need Him as a Savior, an Advisor, a Friend - He is all we truly need and He sustains us...Though we forget that far too often.
You wear a pretty mask of perfection, but that's all it is - a mask. Take it off. Be real. Confess your hurts, your fears, your insecurities. We all have them. Go to your parents, your siblings, your grandparents, your pastor, the ladies like Karol Stanley and Ginny Kalmbach who love you so dearly and pray for you so much. They will listen, they will pray, they will help. Maybe if you go to them now, something this 34 year old version of you failed to do, you won't face the hard years without God that I did. Maybe you will be spared so much hurt that you heaped on yourself in the name of "I can do it alone" that I had to face. Oh, that that could be so!
I sit here typing, crying, looking at the daughter you will have in 16 years. She's beautiful...and so much like you. I am writing this letter in part to share it with her one day, to let her know about what I was like at 16, so that when she is 16 maybe she can live those years better than I did. That is my prayer for her...and I know you'd agree with it.
You've come a very long way from who you are at 16 in 18 years. The road isn't easy, and you mess up sometimes, but you have a family who is there for you. When they say they will love you no matter what, they mean it. Never let a day go by that you don't tell them you love them. Hold on tight to them for as long as you have them.
Take care of yourself, and stay away from the crazy trends. Classic is best, and you REALLY don't want pictures of yourself wearing some of those 90s outfits...Trust me.
The 34 Year Old Version of You