Dear Younger Me,

I really don't even know where to begin.

There is so much I want to tell you. So much I wish I could warn you about, but I can't. If I could, I would. Even though the road has been long and full of shame, guilt, unwanted memories and regret, there has also been grace, mercy, wonderful memories, laughter, forgiveness and joy. If I could tell you one thing, then it would be this: You are going to make it.

I know that you want so badly to be in control because as imperfect humans, we long to be in control. However, being in control in attempts to make you feel "happy" will only lead you to a vicious cycle of being sick and tired of being in control, yet unwilling to surrender to the one who can make you free again. Trust me, I've been there. I know how it feels. Every ounce of regret, shame and guilt you have felt, I have also felt. But, here's what is great about you: You are a fighter. You won't give up until the job is done.

When Satan tells you that you are not good enough and that you will never be good enough, tell him, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). Not one hair or piece of skin on your being has been overlooked. Christ created you in His image, not in the image you are trying to become. Truth is, you will never be skinny enough. You will never be pretty enough. You will never be "fit" enough because once you've given all you have, you will still feel the need to try even harder. Instead of trying so hard, pray harder. The more time you spend with God, the more you will fall in love with who He created you to be.

I so wish that I could be there to rewind your tears and your struggles, but I can't. But, I can tell you that you are more. You are so much more than the approval of this world. Start finding your worth in Christ--the one who made you. Learn to live freely. Stop being so structured. There is so much freedom in being flexible. You want to know why? You can laugh with your friends. You can go out to eat without wondering if you've worked out enough to deserve it. And while I'm on this subject, you can eat anything you want. Please don't feel that you have to watch every calorie. You deserve to enjoy food. Food was created to be enjoyed; it doesn't control you. You can stay up late and make memories. You can skip a workout. You won't gain 7245 pounds overnight, but I will tell you what you will gain: life, friendships, freedom, memories and victory over the enemy.

I just want you to know that you are enough. You don't need to pretend to be someone you are not just to fit in. Stop trying to win the world's approval. Be so focused on living your life for Christ that others notice Him living in you. (Galatians 1:10)

You are going to make mistakes. Take a breath. It is going to be OK, I promise. No one in this world is perfect, and you aren't the first person to make a mistake. If we were all perfect, we wouldn't need Jesus, now would we?

Don't let a boy define your mood. Please, I will repeat, please, never let a boy determine if you are happy or not. People are going to break your heart. You are going to be disappointed. You are going to cry. You are going to wonder if something is wrong with you, but just remember that God is saving you for someone special. Don't get all "bent out of shape" if it's not God's plan. Keep having faith, and remember this: My joy is found in Christ alone.

There is so much more that I want to tell you.

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

You are going to be let down.

People are going to lie to you.

You will have your feelings hurt.

You are going to change your major more than once (maybe even seven times).

Don't compromise your morals.

Always tell the truth.

Stop being so sensitive.

You are going to be the "different" one, and that's OK. Don't worry about what other people will say about you. You belong to someone much greater.

Go with the flow. Life is so much more fun when you learn to release that tight grip of control.

Never give up.

You see, I wish I could wave a yellow flag over all the things in life for you to avoid, but that would mean that you would never learn. When you make mistakes, you grow. You learn to "go with the flow." If I didn't go through everything that I went through, I wouldn't know how great of a God we serve. I wouldn't know how to be flexible. I wouldn't be standing here saying that I am happier than I have ever been.

So, younger me, you are going to make it. You are going to push through the hard times. You are going to worry, but try not to worry too much. Give that up to The Lord and surrender to His control. Laugh. Eat a lot. Love lots. Spread God's unconditional love. Most importantly, live. God has given you one life, and He has given you the free will to live it the way you desire.

You've got this.

Love,

Future Me