Dear 15 year old Jackie,
I look at a picture of you and I remember being you like it was yesterday, not 17 years ago. There are days I look in the mirror and I still see you, I joke that my eyes are broken, but you are ingrained in my memories. Jackie, 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 the heart, the love, the concern and caring. 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, YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE. You were never overlooked, you were never forgotten, you are living through each and every day for a specific purpose.
Sweet girl, do not listen to the words that come from ill meaning peoples mouths. The taunts, the laughs, they are not about you ultimately, I know it seems like it at the time, but they are coming from people that probably harbor more insecurities than you do. Wait 15 years, you will learn that hurt people, hurt people. I wish you could block out those voices that haunt you and realize that everyone is walking their own struggling path, each hard in their own ways. We all need to give one another grace. But also, do not be afraid to let it hurt, hurting isn’t bad for you. You don’t have to stuff your emotions and turn to food to make it through. It’s okay to cry, to be hurt. Growing up is hard, teenage years are hard, shoot, life is hard and when someone looks like they have it “all together” they are putting on a mask, because we all struggle.
Many years from now you will look back at this time that was hard 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 an “easier” 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. 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. 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 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. You see His face, shining on you, pushing you to be better than you would be for yourself, for those 2 girls. He knew best…He picked the perfect ones for you.
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. Without it, the victories are never as sweet. Be brave. Every. Single. Day.
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, 12, 15, 23….you have never given up. Hang in there…it will be worth it.
and PS….You are going to CRUSH your FIRST Half Marathon in a little over a week (yes, you, the one they called un-athletic your whole life)….try and hold it together 🙂
Jackie (at 32 yrs old)