Tuesday, July 05, 2011

#206 Dear Sweet Sixteen

A few days ago, someone that I went to high school with "friend requested" me on Facebook. Later that day, I saw that he tagged me in a picture. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what kind of a picture he could have. This is what I saw when I looked.

This is me, circa 1973, during our high school production of "Bye Bye Birdie". O. My. Gosh! I laughed so hard that my sides hurt. Besides the fact that I looked stoned, I couldn't get over how young I was. By the way, I was NOT under the influence of anything . I was always too afraid to do those kinds of things at that age. You know, visions of dying from an overdose, or the wrath of my parents. I don't know which one would have been worse.

After my initial laugh and re-posting it on Facebook, I forgot about it for awhile. Later that night, it began to haunt me. I stared at that picture and remembered that girl. It's so weird. It seems like a lifetime ago. Really, it was. When I look at her, it's like looking at a different person. Thirty-eight years have passed since I've seen her. I started to think about what I would say to her, if we could sit down and chat, in the spring of 1973. I'd like to think we would sit down and have a tender moment singing, "You Are Sixteen Going On Seventeen", like Maria and Leisl in the Sound of Music. The words to that song seem a little trite in comparison to what I would tell this particular sweet sixteen. There can be no songs and no chats. Maybe I could write her a letter and begin with the words, "Dear Sweet Sixteen."

Dear Sweet Sixteen,

Someone gave me your picture today. For some reason, it brings tears to my eyes. I get all choked up when I think about you. I have so much to tell you. A lifetime of things to tell you. You probably won't want to listen, because after all, you know it all, don't you? I am the only one that is really qualified to tell you these things. I'm the only one that can, because I know you so well. I know you through and through. 

I know that today, on the set of that high school play, you're just sixteen years old. You've got your first job at the hospital. You're driving around in that '65 Mustang like there's no tomorrow. Did you know that it will be a classic car someday? I want to tell you that when you see Kenny on the side of the road, DO NOT look! That way you won't hit the car in front of you and total it out. If you do, you'll have to wait 35 years to get another one of those Pony's. 

Sweet Sixteen, you're just months away from falling in love. I'm not talking about the crushes you've had so far. I'm not talking about those times you "thought" you were in love. You are about to fall head over heels, over the moon, for someone. It is going to be the best of times and the worst of times. There will be obstacles too great for that love to overcome, but I want you to know that it's for the best. It will be okay. I see it all today through 20/20 vision and you would never have wanted it to turn out any other way. Dry your tears. 

Today you are innocent. Oh, if I could get you to understand the precious gift that your innocence is. Maybe I could get you to hold onto it for awhile longer. I know what you think of yourself. I know what you long for. I know your hopes and dreams. I know why you will do the things that you do. I wish I could stop you! I want you to understand how precious you are. How valuable you are. Value yourself. Treat yourself with respect. 

If you could just get that, it would save you so many years of continued heartache. You are loved. You don't have to keep running here and there and everywhere, looking for love in all the wrong places. Your heart will just break over and over and over again. Your self-respect and self-esteem will erode, piece by piece until you find yourself in a deep, dark pit, surrounded by mud and mire. Oh, if I could just stop you now. Stop you from the sin.. Keep you out of the stink. Save you from the darkness. 

But I can't stop you, can I? There is no stopping you. 

Que Sera, Sera. Whatever Will Be, Will Be, right? 

Sweet Sixteen, I wish it wouldn't have to take 30+ years for you to see why you feel the need to do the things you do. One day, understanding will bring healing. You know that I know what you've been through. I know how you're hurting even though you don't even know that you do. One day you will know. One day you will see.

You will see that you didn't have to make crucial life decisions just because that's what your friends did. You will see that you didn't have to choose a career path because that's what someone else wanted. It all stemmed from your intense need to be accepted. To be perfect for everyone else. To have no one ever be displeased or disappointed in you. You never had to do that, Sweet Sixteen. Oh, how I wish you'd known.     

One day, when you are right in the middle of the deepest pit of sin that you will ever find yourself in, Someone will be standing at the top of that pit, in the light, holding out His hand to you. He will come to you in an old white Bible and start to woo you with His words, and court you with His truth, and call you to come to Him. You've never had to be perfect for Him, you see. You've never had to earn His love. He's been right there all along. He will prove it by coming closest to you while you are a sinner. A sinful woman. A sin-full woman. 

On that day you will have found what you've been searching for. He is the Prince that you've been looking for all along. He will sweep you off your feet and you will never be the same again. He is the only One Who will never hurt you, leave you, reject you or forsake you. No matter what. Oh, sweet sixteen, can you hold on until He comes?  

Alas, I know that you won't. I know that I can't stop you. I am you. I never listened.      

I want you to know that one day that Prince will save you from yourself. You will come out of that pit and breathe the fresh air that is freedom. He will bring you a man who will love you as close to the way your Heavenly Father loves you as is humanly possible. You will be a mom, Sweet Sixteen. It will be the greatest joy of your life. Nothing compares to it. Except of course the children that YOUR children will bring into the world. You will be able to stand in the gap between the generations and leave a legacy. A different legacy. Your Prince will rebuild and restore and renew things through you and your obedience to Him. He will use you in a mighty way to serve Him. 

Would I stop you, really, if I could? Come to think of it, I don't know. I would love to save you so much heartache. But in the end, I think it was all necessary. I believe it was all part of the plan. His plan. It was all a road map to your destiny. I'm not saying your choices were always smart or beneficial. But God was able to make all things work together for your good. I can't wait for you to get to that day where you meet Him, truly meet Him, for the first time. And perhaps the only way that would ever happen was for you to live the life you did all these years. It was all a path toward the arms of your perfect Prince Charming, the One you were always searching for. The One you will fall head over heels, over the moon, in love with. And that love will overcome every single obstacle you will ever face. 

Carry on, Sweet Sixteen. I won't get in your way. I know the end of the story.

And they lived happily ever after.



  1. What a truly unique way to share your story. So glad you linked it to soli deo gloria! Welcome to the sisterhood!

  2. I'm going to write one of those letters. I already wrote one to my "thin self" and then one back from her. It was super cathartic and revealing.

  3. BRILLANT!!! You are a creative and beautiful writer and thinker…this is powerful…

    Love you!!!


  4. This is a lovely and creative way to look back and see God's hand upon your life!
    I enjoyed reading your story very much.
    Reflecting on our past can be so revealing!
    Thank you for linking to LACE.
    God bless you..Trish

  5. What a great letter- it is amazing to look back and see how God loved that 16 year old and what she would become in his hands.

  6. Your letter touched my heart. I'm not sure what I would say to my 16 year old self. I was dating my sweetheart--and still is. Life was free from pain. Maybe I would have prepared myself for what was to come. Infirtility, losing my Sarah, church heartaches... Or maybe i would just say "God will get your through everything thing. Just remember that the Lord giveth and taketh away, Blessed be the name of the Lord."

    So many memories -- thanks for bringing them to mind.


  7. I love this! So beautiful and touching.

    Have a great day.

  8. That was beautiful, heartwrenching, and inspiring at the same time. It would be nice if we could go back and tell ourselves things... but would we be the same people NOW if we did? (found this through beholdingglory.com )

  9. Thanks for linking this inspirational and thought-provoking message up at

    Very creative and touching!

    Shah ;D - Have a great weekend!

  10. Thank you very much for sharing this timely post. In a way it's the eternal story of womankind, our rebellion, His gracious plan to bring us to Himself, and our choice whether to respond or not. I am SO glad you made the right choice, for like ripples in a pond your choice affects not only yourself but numerous others. Blessings, Elizabeth.

  11. Hi Donna,
    Your letter is beautiful,emotional and uplifting at the same time.I'm glad you found the Lord and lived happily ever after.
    God Bless
    Barb from Australia

  12. OH! I am so inspired to write one of these letters! Is there any way I could actually get it to her!? I did write a letter to my daughter's wedding gown a month or so ago. :) I like your style. Following now :)

  13. "I know the end of the story." And because of that there is no condemnation. Not even self condemnation. Amazing what He does to us, for us.

    Thank you for this beautiful post.

    Blessings, Debbie

  14. What a great idea to write your younger self a letter. It will require a lot of remembering! I'd like to do this too! Funny how important things that are so trivial now seemed then! Patsy from

  15. Thank you for sharing, I was in tears for this young lady, and the beautiful woman she will become.

  16. What a beautiful story. It brought back memories of when I was 16 - about a hundred years ago. It's funny how we can look back and see things so much more clearly than when we're going through them. Thank you for this insight.

  17. A lovely post. And a lovely picture.

    Thank you for sharing your heart. Your letter brought tears to my eyes.


  18. Beautiful. AMAZING. I have tears and chills. Often times I think of what I would write to myself. Something about talking to yourself as a young girl is so emotional and raw, isn't it?

  19. oh friend, this was so very beautiful... i love that you owned a mustang! isn't it incredible, what we don't know about the future, and how God takes care of us, moment to moment? bless you friend. (and btw, you were a STUNNING 16-year-old. even though you do look a little bit stoned :))