This one’s for you, beautiful teenage girl who shall remain nameless.
I need not tell you how much I love you or how proud I am of you. Or perhaps I should. I think you are amazing. I watched you tonight and you radiated charm and intelligence. You are smooth with words and you seem so at ease with yourself that it makes this grown woman jealous. I know it’s not cool to gush over you, in public, online, or even in the privacy of our own home, but you make my heart smile.
I have grown up with you. Your existence–from the time I knew you were coming, to now–has shaped everything about me. You’ve seen so much in your 15 years–too much. I hate the things that you’ve had to go through while I found my way. You have more patience and common sense than I ever dreamed of having at your age. In the few years that you have left here in my house, I hope I can finally teach you something worthwhile, starting with this:
Love God. With all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Never stop pursuing. Ask. Search. Knock. Don’t slack off or fall back or give up, because this is probably the single most important piece of advice anyone ever gave anybody. Plus, it’s in the Bible. And also: Read the Bible. When you’re unsure of where to turn or what to do, or when you’re scared, or when you’re happy and everything’s gravy–read the Bible. And pray.
The very best way to accentuate your stunning outer beauty is not with heavily applied black eyeliner or watermelon lip gloss. It’s not with short skirts, low-cut tops and push-up bras, or high heels or french manicures. Contrary to what society will tell you, your beauty is not measured in how much money you spend on your appearance or how sexually aggressive and “confident” you seem to others. Enhance your looks instead with kind words, helpful actions, a genuine smile and a caring heart. Some of the most hauntingly beautiful women I’ve ever known leave much to the imagination in terms of how they dress, and their sweet nature is what draws people to them again and again. Now, go and tattoo the last 2 paragraphs on your forearm, because they are just. so. true.
Don’t be just happy when something is great; be ecstatic. Be over the moon. Smile as hard as you can because your teeth aren’t yet coffee-stained and you don’t have crows’ feet–and so what if you did? Smile because you’re beautiful when you smile–gleamingly, shiningly, beautiful. Your smile is more powerful than you know.
Laugh, because it’s one of the best things I like to listen to. Memorize killer jokes because you never know when someone else needs to hear one. And then you can laugh together, and that’s pretty much the funnest thing you can do, hands down, with another human being. Chuckle. Giggle. Chortle. Snort. Spaz. Laugh. Hard. And often. Very often.
Let yourself feel sad when something is sad. Don’t hide your tears, because you’re supposed to feel better after a good cry. It does not indicate weakness; if real men can wear pink, then real women can cry and still go on being awesome.
Speak up. This doesn’t mean to spout off every little idea that pops into your head, because let’s face it–the potential for crazy is there everytime you open your mouth. (chickenfightingrandomscreamingrobotbrowniebarbie, anyone?) Choose your words wisely–but don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, especially over the important stuff.
Stay pure. Pure of heart and pure in body. For Jesus and for yourself. Don’t rush away or dream away or wish away this part of your life–once it’s over, it’s over, and there are no re-do’s. Life is short, yes, but there’s still plenty of time to act grown up–later. Take it from somebody who knows. Appreciate yourself, respect yourself, love yourself–and demand those things from anyone that you’re with.
You’re young and it’s awesome. Worry about getting good grades and planning sleepovers with your best friends. There is beauty in the simplicity of your life as it is right now. Enjoy it. Relish every moment, even the seemingly difficult ones.
Pray. Look for the bright side. Give to the poor. Love nature. Get a puppy. Pray. Paint a picture. Drink hot chocolate. Ride your bike. Work hard. Pray. Call your friends. Plant a garden. Pick flowers. Hike in the mountains. Walk along the beach. Count the stars. Pray. Make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes. Laugh at your mistakes. Pray.
And, as lame as we are, treasure your family. Straight treasure them. One day your sister will be busy with things like boyfriends, and college, and careers and then, kids of her own–but she’ll probably always look at you as “her cooler, older sister.” One day your brother will come to you for help, or advice. He might come to your aide. He’ll make you laugh with his hysterical antics or his interesting sense of fashion. (Let’s just pray he wears pants in the future.)
As for your parents: I would say that we will be old and gray and our days will be numbered; but in your case, we’ll all be in a nursing home together, wearing blinged-out pink sweatsuits, cracking inappropriate jokes and crashing into things with our wheelchairs, looking back on this life…