Dear Jessica,

Do you remember that feeling you used to have? The one that made you drink NyQuil just so you could sleep and momentarily escape it? The one that felt like something was gnawing at your insides? That sinking, dreadful feeling? I found out what it was when we were about 24. It’s called despair. Some people know it as hopelessness. I want you to know that you found the cure, and life has never been the same.

We had a child really young, and then we had another one.

Two boys. It didn’t work with their father the way you planned, but we learned a ton. We learned that we deserve to be loved completely and unconditionally and we learned how to love ourselves. We learned that we have more to give than what is between our legs, and that we are worth waiting for. We learned that to everything there is a season, a time to hold close and a time to release.

We learned how to forgive and forget.

Remember all of those really dysfunctional ideas about men and relationships that you had as a result of the constant feelings of rejection and disappointment, and how you wondered if you ever wanted to be married? Well, guess what? You got married. Not only did you get married, but you were so excited to be his wife, you skipped out on having a wedding. Crazy right? There were only 17 people at your private ceremony that you and our husband hand-selected to witness the occasion. And, guess what else? Just when you think your love for him can’t get any deeper, or wider, or fuller, or larger, he looks at you in that special way and your heart melts and you fall in love all over again. Oh, and you had a daughter, finally! She adores the woman you have become. You have another son as well. Four children altogether.

Your heart and home are full. 

And you know how you said that you would never be a teacher because they were “overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated”? Guess what? Yup, you’re a teacher, and a darn good one! High School English. You love what you do because you have the opportunity to impact the lives of your students each and every day.

Not only that, but do you remember all that terrible stuff we went through with mom’s boyfriends and those other guys?

Well, you channeled all of that pain into a passionate pursuit of your purpose. Once you realized that you didn’t experience those things for nothing, but that your pain had purpose, you were able to embrace your own pain which helped you see the pain in other girls’ eyes and DO something about it. You became a mentor and even started your own mentorship program. You have mentored dozens of girls and many of them still seek you for counsel, wisdom, and truth. And you finally overcame your fear of being a writer. You started blogging and you’re about to release a book!

You should be proud of yourself.

Oh, I almost forgot. The cure that you found for those feelings of despair? It’s a life submitted to Christ. You gave your life to Him 10 years ago, and nothing has been the same since. I thank you for having the courage to surrender. Without that decision, I don’t know where we’d be, and for that, I am proud of you. No matter what mistakes you made, how many times you failed, all of the wrong you may have done, you made it right. So, don’t let the world tell you that you’re worthless or that your life has no value or you’d be better off dead. 

You are beautiful.

You are loved.

You are chosen.

You are the only person on the face of the earth who can be you.

So be you.

Be unapologetically you.

Let your light shine. Even on the darkest days, let it shine because there is a little girl out there waiting for your story.

What would you say to your younger self? What have you accomplished that may surprise the younger version of you?

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