A Letter to Sixteen-Year-Old Me

To the sixteen-year-old me:

I know you read through your journals and you don’t see progress. You feel like you are wrestling with the same things. And mostly, that’s true. But that’s okay. You’ve only been writing seriously for a couple of months. Change, maturity, resolution – those things take time.

Right now, you believe in God. That’s important. Keep doing that. But don’t think God limits. God expands. Keep your open mind. Ask the questions you don’t hear other people asking. Make your faith yours. Make it personal. But don’t give up on God. He won’t give up on you.

You think you’re in love. I can’t tell you if you are or not. It will happen a few more times. Each time it does, really think about it. Really dive into it. And if you decide that you actually are, treat the girl as if it’s true.

But, in the mean time, be in love with everyone. Respect everyone. Be selfless to everyone. And rejoice in it. Don’t walk around with a nice-guy chip on your shoulder. Good men aren’t good because they don’t curse. They are good because they always put others first.

Don’t be mad at the people who party and drive fast and sleep with each other. Be mad at the people who say “faggot” and use female genitalia as insult. Be mad at the people who are convinced that the funniest humor is the kind that is necessarily insulting. Be mad at the people whose main source of socialization is exclusionary.

Stop thinking you are smarter than the people around you. Life is much more fun when you live it outside of GPAs and SAT scores.

In a related way, stop believing that you hold objective reality. Your instincts about people are good, but they are based on your own personality. Just because you don’t get along with someone doesn’t mean they are a bad person.

But don’t take any of this criticism too personally. You are already perfect. after all. Not because of anything you have done, but because God is pulling you into His Kingdom. And I know that feels weird. I know that feels like a free pass. But really, all it is is freeing. If you don’t turn that assignment in on time, you won’t be any less great. If a girl breaks your heart, your soul will still be whole. If things don’t go your way, you are still on the right path. And that’s freeing.

With love,

Your 21-year-old self who is still a lot like you.

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