Friday, September 14, 2012

Dear Me

An amazing writer and blogger Emily Freeman has just published her second book: Graceful: Letting go of Your Try-Hard Life, a book written for teenage girls. Although I haven't read this book yet, I have read her first book Grace for the GoodGirl: Letting go of the Try-Hard Life, a book that I highly recommend. On her blog Chattingat the Sky she has invited her readers to join in in writing a letter to our teenage selves. I found out that I had quite a bit to tell my 16-year-old self. I never would have thought it would be so hard, tearful, and… healing. This here is only a glimpse of what came forth from my aching heart. Although I still don’t want to let go of her, she has taught me much, and I am grateful to her for making me who I have become today.

graceful for young women

My heart aches for you right now because I know that you will never receive this letter. If you were to receive it and heed to my advice I would probably be a different person right now. I guess, however, that it will be okay that you don’t get it. I am okay. Fortunately we have a Savior that works all things together for good and also is great at restoring joy and healing wounds.

You are 16 now and you have lived such a delightful, life. The land where your parents were called to serve, that lovely place where you were born and raised, Chile, will be in your heart forever. Keep savoring every inch of it every second you are there. Although you’ve got this down pat, I will say it anyway: delight yourself in you friends, they adore you. But, what you don’t have down pat is this: delight yourself in your mom. After you leave home she gets very sick. Her illness will last for many years. It will be very painful not just for her, but watching her deteriorate the way she does is incredibly devastating to you, so much so that it will become too hard for you to get close to her. Please Susan, cherish her, love on her and don’t pull away from her. She will need you; she wants to be close to you. Talk to her; ask her questions; cry with her, laugh with her. By the time you are 26 she will have lost control over most of her motor skills, she won’t be able to talk to you although she will long to. And by the time you are 31 she will be gone…you need her desperately, don’t suppress that. Yes it will be excruciatingly painful to lose her, but losing her after withdrawing from her because you can’t handle the thought of losing her some day will be even worse. Go, go hug her NOW.

And speaking of your mom, although she was a wonderful mom and a very worthy woman to have as a role model, let me tell you something. Right now I am the same age she was when I was your age. I can assure you, she so does not have it all together. She is probably insecure, and scared. She most likely feels unprepared, unworthy and like she is a total mess. She needs to know that you think she is a wonderful mother and that she has done a super job raising her children. Don’t assume she knows that. Tell her. I know you think she is perfect and untouchable. She isn’t. You will live your life trying to be her, but because you think she is perfect you will never succeed. You will feel depressed and unworthy. You will never be her but don’t worry, you don’t need to be. You are who God made you to be, embrace it, and embrace Him. What she has is Jesus; any perfection you see in her is really Him. Don’t live your life seeking perfection; live your life seeking Him. Seek his grace.

That whisper you keep hearing that is telling you to breakup with your boyfriend is a wise whisper. Please listen to your instinct.  He is a good guy, but believe it or not, he is not for you. You will not be a bad person if you break up with him. Trust me, you will be sparing both of you a lot of pain.

Sorry I’m too late to tell you to choose a different orthodontist. You will unfortunately spend many more hours in his waiting room. He is so rude, I know. I’m so proud of you for taking that whole initiative, picking your orthodontist, making your appointments and keeping them. You did a super job owning that responsibility. I brag about you all the time. Your independence will pay off later. I’m sorry to tell you that you won’t have your braces off till after graduation. But you will look amazing. In the end it will have been worth those ugly 4 years. Your mom is going to take this great picture of you the day you get them off.  It’s one of your favorites; so, don’t give her an attitude about it.


When you go off to college your soul will be crushed. I guess you know that, you sense it and you are already starting to feel the dread starting to creep in. Once you get to the States I urge you to begin to embrace your new life there, it really wouldn’t be so bad if you let yourself enjoy it. By accepting this new life you won’t be betraying your old one; you won’t be betraying your old friends or betraying who you are. Your life in Chile will always be a part of you and you will forever have priceless memories of a happy childhood, but it is okay to begin making new memories of a happy adult life.
I wish you could see that not all Americans are shallow and materialistic. They have beautiful needy souls just like yours. Get off your judgmental high horse and love them in the same way you want them to love you.
Don’t withdraw, the hole you will dig has been a lonely place to live in, so please listen, it’s okay to let go and move on.  Don’t allow the enemy to steal your joy.

Your mom and dad, your classmates, and your best friends aren’t the only ones that are capable of loving you and accepting you just the way you are. Allow yourself to develop new deep friendships even at the risk of losing them. Allow yourself to love your children with total abandon even at the risk of being ignored and hurt. Open up to your sisters even at the risk of feeling like a child again. Remember that they grew up in the same home as you did. They will understand.

Your husband is amazing. You will have an unbelievably happy marriage. He will love you more and better than anyone ever has. I really won’t give you any advice because you will pick the right one and truly become natural at this marriage thing. Your future mother-in-law has been praying for you all of your life. She probably prayed for you today. Your mom has been praying for your husband all of your life as well. I am convinced that your marital success is due to their dedicated prayers. It would do your children well if you do the same for them.

The first time you meet your husband is in the school cafeteria where you work, you will make him a sandwich. That is all I’m sayin’. The rest needs to be a surprise.

As a mother you will experience joy and pain like none other. It really doesn’t matter what I say to you now about parenting because there is nothing that will ever prepare you for motherhood. Nothing.

Relax and enjoy your boys (oops, did I just let that slip?) Laugh more and frown less. Don’t focus on trying to make them good kids so that you will look good; focus instead on learning how to love them better every day. They will never be perfect; don’t take it personally.

Food is not a good comforter. Being thin isn't either. It also won’t make you a better person or make people like you more. If you would remember those two things you will spare me years of yo-yo dieting.

Susan, don’t leave joy behind. Please take it with you.

Explore Grace.

Ask God to search your heart and restore your soul.

Don’t worry about what to do. Focus on what you believe. Believe God. Believe truth. If you believe truth, you will do the right thing.

Age 43

For heavens sake child, stop laying out in the sun and getting those sunburns. You look awful when your eyes swell; it is not worth it. You will never, ever tan. Never, so stop trying! I wish you could see the wrinkles you have given me. Your mom is right. Make her happy and make me happy too; put on some sun block and wear a hat.

I thought it would be cool to share this awesome historical moment with you, readers. In April of 1986 I was 16 years old. About 15-20 miles from where we lived was a very rural area where on clear nights you could see every star in the sky. A breathtaking place to be, I must say.
Lucky us, this was a clear night, and what I am looking at in this photo is none other than Halley's Comet.



  1. Susan, I cried through most of this blog. I can't imagine what it was like to watch your mom's illness progress. I am sorry I wasn't a more supportive cousin through those times. Unfortunately I had some things I needed to work on myself. :( I loved your mom too. She was such a lovely aunt. I think of her when I cook and I use her recipe books that the family made.

    I have so often thought of what you went through when you left Chili. When we moved back to the U.S. my kids had such a hard time. They missed their friends and the home they knew. Watching you go through that helped me empathize with them. I too had a difficult time adjusting and I learned from you that it does get better. Thank you for bearing your heart.

    Love, Sheri

  2. Susanita linda, thank you for sharing this. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Love you!