Don’t hook up with him. I know that he’s so cute and that you’ve been dating over a year, but don’t hook up with him. God has already selected an amazing husband for you, and he’s protecting his purity for his future wife…YOU. I know he tells you that he loves you and that you’re going to get married after college, but what does he know? He’s seventeen, too. Trust me, just don’t. It’s not that great. He’s planning to break up with you just before graduation, anyway. He’ll do it over the phone and it will feel like someone has kicked you square in the gut. You won’t be able to catch your breath, because you will immediately know that it’s too late. He’ll have every part of you. Every last piece of your innocence. Your mystery. Your purity. And it will be too late.
You will hate yourself, and you will wrestle with Jesus over this for years. He has already forgiven your sin as far as the East is from the West. Don’t wait until you’re 27 to forgive yourself.
Your Little Sister Doesn’t Need Another Mom. Seriously, leave your little sister alone. I know that you are just trying to protect her and that you only want to prevent her from making your same poor choices, but let her be. She needs to live her own life. Make her own mistakes. Give her the space she needs to create an identity for herself that’s outside of your shadow. Realize that she doesn’t want to grow up to be just like you. She doesn’t want your advice. She doesn’t even want your friendship right now.
Try not to let it hurt your feelings, because someday she will need you. She’ll be 28 and pregnant for the first time, and she’ll call you every few days to see “if you ever felt this way when you were pregnant.” And you will be best friends.
Don’t Regret Your College Decision. I know that you are regretting your decision to go to Community College. You feel like all your friends are going off to big universities and you are the ONLY one staying at home for the year. It will be tough for a few months. The loneliness will feel raw when the pieces of your high school life scatter into the wind. You’ll go to class the first day and your ex will be sitting two rows in front of you. Oh yeah, now you remember why you decided to go to community college. And you’ll have to stare at the back of his head for 50 minutes and relive your first real, crushing heartbreak all over again. It will be fine. You’ll get transferred to another class. In November, you’ll meet your husband in the café on campus. You’ll transfer in eighteen months to that university, and it will be some of the best, most carefree years of your life.
Enjoy Your Twenties. There isn’t another decade in life quite like your twenties. You’ve been blessed with parents that can afford you these years of freedom and exploration. Don’t rush this time in order to get to a career, to get to married life, to get to motherhood. There will be no other time quite like this. You will be a wife and a mom soon enough, but these years are fleeting. Savor them. Savor the friendships you are making, for they will be life-long. Savor the time to travel while you live on Ramen noodles and peanut butter. Savor your long, quiet times with Jesus, because all too quickly, that time will be interrupted with corporate work, and bills, and little children who need you. Life past your twenties is good, and full, and pleasing, but this time, this time in your twenties, holds a uniqueness all its very own.
Listen to Your Mother. I know, you think she has NO idea what you’re going through. Trust me, she does. She knows exactly what you’re going through, and she would give anything to save you from yourself. Listen to your mother. Give her the respect that she deserves. Live in such a way that would be pleasing and honoring to her. But, when you fail, when you have completely lost your way, don’t be afraid to run to her. Like the prodigal son, she will welcome you, her adult daughter, into her arms of forgiveness and grace. Your relationship will be tested these next few years. But you will both survive. And she will become your best friend.
Dear Seventeen-Year-Old Self, even if I could reach back in time and give you this advice, I know that you wouldn’t heed any of it. What seventeen-year-old would? The God of your heart is going to allow you to walk this path of mistakes, and regrets, and brokenness. He is going to allow you to feel the raw pain that comes along with every wrong choice you will make. But keep trusting in Him, for He is faithful to you, His daughter.
And when you’re 32, you will spend a sleepy Sunday afternoon sitting on a worn-out couch next to that boy you met in that college café. He’s your husband of eight years, and your two gorgeous daughters are napping in their rooms. You will be able to look back on your life, and see that, even through these harsh years, God was gently and quietly orchestrating your every step. Look at the beauty He has created because of the grace and love He has for you. This afternoon, you’ll call your mom for the third time this week. And your sister will text you to see “if you ever felt this way when you were pregnant.”
Your Thirty-Two-Year-Old Self