Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Message to 9 Year Old Sarah

I sit looking at this school photograph taken of me.  It was school year 1981-1982.  I was in 4th grade.  9 years old.  I was the same age and grade as my daughter is right now.  I see the very timid and shy girl that I was and, to some degree, still am.  God isn't really in the business of do-overs.  Not really.  Since I cannot re-write the past, there are some things I wish I could tell this girl.

You are beautiful.  Don't let anyone tell you differently.  Get that into your head right now, because you are going to hear all kinds of vicious words over the next five years from your peers.  You know the old adage about sticks and stones??  So not true.  You may not want the words to hurt, but they will.  You will take every comment and look to heart and bear it as a cross for years to come.  You will find over the years ahead that everything that was ever said against you, every sneer, and every punch you ever took is going to be your default reason for why something good didn't happen to you.

Can I tell you something?

You are meant for more than this.  God has your back.  He is with you right now as you walk this journey.  You may think that the world is against you and that you have few friends.  The world is not against you.  And you know that one friend you have??  She's still going to be with you 31 years from now.  

If I could tell you anything, it would be that I wish at 9 years old you knew what it means for God to be with you.  John 16:33 {NIV} says:
"...In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."
I am not saying that the fears you face each day as you walk to school aren't real.  At 40 years old, if I knew that the likelihood of being bullied when I walked through the doors of my school was greater than the likelihood of not being bullied, I'd be scared to go there too!  God doesn't promise that we are going to have an easy ride.  In your life, you are going to have troubles, girlfriend.  Know that right now.  But know this - you have a loving family and you do have friends who love you.  You may not have many friends right now, but they will come.  You will find that you are better off having fewer friends who've got your back than having hordes of surface-level friendships.  You have a rough road ahead.  You will endure 5 years of "suffering" with classmates who, as an adult, I can appreciate may have been enduring their own difficult journeys.  As an adult, I can say in all sincerity that you never know what is going on with someone else.  That bully who colored on your sweatshirt in marker?  The same bully who beat you up nearly every day for four years?  Do you think it's possible that perhaps she had a rough home life?  Remember her?  The girl down the street who lived with her mother and brother.  The girl who was at least a head taller than the tallest boy in the class.  The girl who was a year older than everyone else because she'd been held back a grade a couple years back.  Is it just possible that maybe she was facing her own troubles?  Unfortunately, you'll be her punching bag for a time.  You will take it and endure these next years because you feel like there's no other choice.

You'll get through high school boyfriendless.  You'll get through college.  But you'll face a sexual assault that, just when you think your life is coming together, will throw you off course so far you won't know what to think.  Your adult life with be fraught with insecurities.  You'll be wishing for a do-over.  You won't get it, but one day when you're living far from home with a family of your own in your mid 30's, you'll break down and hyperventilate because you'll hit a bump in the road in your troubled adult life that will cause everything from the age you are right now {9 years old} to resurface.  And you'll cry with your husband and you will repent for everything that ever happened.  You'll cry out to God.  Your incredible husband will guide you through this process and you will forgive everything that ever happened to you.

I say it often these days - I wish that I knew God when I was a child the way I know Him today.  I wish you, my 9 year old self, could know God.  Not just be a church-goer, because that's what the family does.  No, I mean know God.  I wish you could know that all of your trials are going to make you a stronger person.  I wish you could know that your sufferings will mold your character.  I wish that you would know this verse from Psalms:

Your very name, Sarah, means "princess".  I know you know that.  But you need to know right now that you are a Princess.  You are the daughter of the King most high.  You are royalty.  God is your Father and He is with you always.  During all your struggles, please remember this.  He doesn't forsake you.  He won't.  I wish you could open your eyes to see the blessings that are probably happening all around you right now.  You are so blinded by your own hurt and lack of faith that you won't be able to see this for years to come.  I wish I could tell you to stop where you are at right now and find three things to be grateful for.

At age 11, in 6th grade, you will write a poem that you feel like most see as pitiful.  You'll write this, but when you're an adult you might stop in your tracks when you re-read it as you prepare a blog post:

I would tell you that I know you are hurting so deeply and you will for years.  I would tell you that everything is going to be ok.  I would challenge you to get to know God so that you would fully understand that He is with you.  I would also tell you that, while your trials may be great, there are so many children out there who are not nearly as fortunate as you are.  I would tell you that your troubles are for but a moment in time.  You will be stronger for all that you have gone through.  You will learn to lean on God, trust in Him, and to be able to forgive those who wronged you.  You have a tender heart, compassion for those who are hurting.  God will use you for a purpose.  Romans 8:28 {NIV} says:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
All things.  Good and bad.  You have a purpose and a plan, beautiful daughter of the King!  I cannot change your past, but I can use it to shape your future.  You can use your experiences to help your own child someday when she experiences issues at school, though gratefully she has not experienced what you have!  You will use them in a mighty way as you minister to your other child who will return to her heavenly home far sooner than you can imagine.  You will use your past to minister to others around you as they struggle with issues that seem strangely familiar.  And you will turn to God like never before and have a desire to share Him with others, including two little boys far across the world in Rwanda and India.  You will share God's message with them, hoping and praying that these two sons of the King will come to know Him and trust that God has a plan for them as well.  And you will be grateful that for all you "suffered" through, your suffering is not what others suffer through.  And you will be humbled by the things we take for granted that these boys will see as life-changing.

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