Dear 15-year-old Jackie,

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Dear 15-year-old Jackie,

I look at this picture of you and I remember walking in your skin like it was yesterday, not 19 years ago. There are days I look in the mirror and I still see you, staring back at me. I say half-heartedly that my eyes are broken, but you are ingrained in my memories. I have so many things I want to tell you, but as I look at this picture of you at 15, I want you to know that you are beautiful. You will come to learn, many years down the road, that beauty has nothing to do with the physical appearance. Beauty is in the heart, the love, the concern and the caring that you show. You are all of these things.

You are a giver, a loyal friend, a joyful spirit. You are God’s precious daughter, created in His perfect image. You are not a mistake, Jackie. Hear me again as I scream it from the rooftops, YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE. You were never overlooked, you were never forgotten, you are living through each and every day and every struggle for a specific purpose. When the dark days come, and they will, see the hope that is there. Keep pressing on through the darkness, because you will make it through to the others side.

Sweet girl, do not listen to the words that come from the mouths of ill meaning people. The taunts, the laughs, they are ultimately not about you. I know it seems like it at the time, and it hurts so bad, but they are coming from people who probably harbor more insecurities than you do. Just wait a few years, you will learn that hurting people, hurt people. Some people are just mean, and some are ignorant, learn now not to let bullies define anything about you. I wish you could block out the voices that haunt you and truly see that everyone is walking their own hard path, each struggling in their own ways. We all need to give one another grace and we need to hold each other up. There is plenty in this world trying to tear us down, we get to choose not to join in.

Jackie, listen to me, do not be afraid to let it hurt, hurting isn’t bad for you. You will toil so many years trying to hide from the hurt, but hurting can grow you so much, it produces a newness in you that you will be thankful for down the road. You don’t have to stuff your emotions and turn to food to make it through. It’s okay to cry and to be hurt, it is not a sign of weakness. Learn now that weakness isn’t a bad thing, you will rise stronger in the end. Growing up is hard, the teenage years are hard, for the love, life is just plain hard and when someone looks like they have it “all together” they are putting on a mask, because we all struggle. Don’t be fooled to think you are alone.

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(You rock that jumpsuit, sister.)

Many years from now you will look back at this time that seemed excruciating and appreciate the struggle that you are walking through. You will see the woman you have become is better and stronger because of it. She’s more loving, more empathetic, and more determined than someone who may have had a different path. You will dig deep in the hard times and remember where you came from and what you are made of. You will learn to rely solely on God for your strength. Sweet girl, He carried you through when you couldn’t even walk some days and He has never, and will never abandon you.

Life doesn’t get easier just because you move out of the adolescent years, it just takes on different, more adult problems. No one will prepare you for those adult problems, but you’ll have a firm foundation to always fall back upon. You have a strength that you didn’t know you had. God had His hand on you from the very beginning and even when you didn’t see it, even in the darkest days that felt like they would never end, He brought you out.

Just wait, Jackie, many years down the road you will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, concerning your eating disorder. It won’t be flawless or perfect, but you will fumble through recovery and find victory more often than not. You will get to see redemption where you once thought there was no hope.

You will have defied the odds, been one of the lucky ones that made it through and by God’s grace you were able to get married and have children. Two precious, amazing, spunky little girls that want to be just like their mom. You see redemption each time you look at their faces. You see His grace that brought you through what you thought would be the end, and what probably should have been. You see His face, shining on you, pushing you to be better than you would be for yourself, for those two girls. He knew best…He picked the perfect ones for you.

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Jackie, you will learn you possess strength you never knew you had. You will set goals for yourself and surpass them. You will still struggle, we all do, but you have learned that the struggle is part of the journey, so when the hard times come you can lean in, not pull away. Without it, the victories are never as sweet. Be brave. Every. Single. Day. You keep showing up and proving to yourself you are worth it, not because of anything you do, but just because. You are worthy.

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Jackie, you have become someone you never thought you could be, you are doing things you never thought you’d be able to do. By His grace you keep going, just as you did when you were 10, 15, 25….you have never given up. Hang in there…it will be worth it.

Love,
Jackie (at 33 yrs old)

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Comments

  1. Allison Cambre says:

    Very powerful, very reflective. I remember the younger Jackie.

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