a letter to my younger self

baby jess

dear 16-year old jess,

that’s what you like being called. jessica gets caught on the tongue. too many syllables. jess is familiar. people who know you call you Jess.

i’m not sure how much time passes to mark the transition. but people shift from saying “Jessica” to “Jess.” that marks your people.

you’re in the midst of discovering who you are. rushing through life. anticipating what’s next.

slow down, oh my sweet soul.

it happens fast. prom. graduation. getting your first and second… and third speeding ticket.

[by the way, you think those mark the end of the world. trust me, dad won’t actually kill you. the time you almost go to jail is worse.]

you’re so worried about what people think about you. what people see. how you perform. who you need to be or what you need to say for people to like you.

but i wish you would start loving yourself now.

you’re wildly kind. you have a heart for justice. you love the misfits. you’re creative and driven and smart.

you have friends around you who will shift your worldview in the most breathtakingly beautiful ways. you’re going to learn that god’s love is not confined by human definitions, stuffed in a box that sits nicely on the shelf.

rather, you discover god as wild.

and he works in ways that leave you slackjawed. he’s going to be hard to see—even harder to hear—for a while. but don’t give up. don’t stop pursuing.

even when he seems impossible to hear—impossible to see—trust his heartbeat.

you think you know now what love is. but just as your heart contracts and expands with this nebulous virtue, it’s a mere glimpse of the love he has for you. it’s wider and deeper and longer and higher than you’ll be able to fathom. and the facets you see now? they’re just the tip of the iceberg that plunges depths unimaginable.

god has this way of putting people in your life who speak life and truth over you. remind you who you are and whose you are. point out your mistakes with great love. draw you into him and call out your gifts.

your heart is going to break. more than once. by boys who don’t know what they’re doing. by yourself, pushing the close ones away. and by the one who vowed he wouldn’t leave.

you have a plan for your life. it’s a great one on paper. but jess. sweet jess. you don’t have a clue. a glimpse of what is coming. the heartbreaking. the brutal. but all beautiful.

because where god is, that wild one we follow…  that’s where the adventure is.

and isn’t that all you want?

with my whole heart,
jess

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